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The History of Brownies

We’ve put together a brief History of Brownies

Brownies come in a variety of shapes and forms, everyone who bakes brownies has their own special twist on creating the perfect one in their eyes. You can get fudgy chocolate brownies or cakey brownies, what you enjoy is down to you and the baker making them. Personally, we at Sponge think Fudge Brownies are the best, the fudgier and gooier the brownie the better the experience (as long as they are cooked of course). And it’s all dependant on their density and the way they are baked. An interesting fact about brownies is that they continue cooking even when they come out of the oven! You’ll still need to work out the perfect time to take them out of the oven to make sure they aren’t under or over baked, especially if you want a really fudgy brownie experience.

Origins of the Brownie (What are brownies?)

Brownies are not classified as cakes – this is a very interesting point about the brownie. The reason for this is that although the texture is similar to cakes, it is classed as finger food (whereas usually cake is eaten with a fork), therefore they are categorised as a cookie bar (in America). As you pick them up with your fingers much like a cookie, they don’t sit in the cake category.

The first brownie recipe (brownies as we know them at least) to appear in print was in the 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, written by Fannie Farmer. So, one of our favourite treats, in the grand scheme of baking, is actually a fairly new concept. Although, there was a recipe in the 1897 Sears, Roebuck Catalogue which was for a treacle sweet which was called brownies.

Nowadays there are thousands of brownie recipes you can find online, various recipes will give you a different result. Again, it depends on the baker’s preference to the outcome of the brownies, usually, they will give you an idea of whether they will be cakey or fudgy in the introduction description before the recipes.

Theories and Myths of the Brownie Origins

There are a few theories surrounding the actual origins of the famous brownie, it’s been said that they originated from Boston, a woman was baking a chocolate cake and forgot to add a vital ingredient; the baking powder. So, her chocolate cake didn’t rise. Instead of just throwing the cake in the bin, she cut it and served the flat pieces of cake. It has been cited a couple of times by famous American brands, although there is no evidence to support this myth.

The Most Popular Brownie Flavours

Chocolate Brownies – the traditional version of one of our favourite treats. Plain chocolate brownies are the original version, so it’s a classic flavour. Of course, they are fairly self-explanatory in their nature. They are fully of chocolatey goodness, and sometimes even studded with chocolate chips or pieces for extra texture. You could say that these lean more towards a cake texture.

Chocolate fudge brownies – Here is the alternative to the above. Chocolate Fudge brownies obviously have a chocolate flavour with a fudge texture, they tend to be gooier and chewier than the cake textured version. The chewy outside and the gooey inside is what a lot of people love about these delicious treats.

Salted Caramel Brownies – Salted caramel treats have become really popular of the last few years and needless to say that salted caramel brownies are near the top of the list for flavours. Imagine smooth, salty caramel running through a delicious chewy chocolate brownie. It adds flavour and sometimes texture, without overpowering the chocolate flavour and creating a delicious balance on the pallet.

Peanut Butter Brownies – Another great flavour choice, the sweetness of chocolate mixed with the slightly salty flavour of peanut butter. Mixed together they are a great combination. Some choose to use crunchy peanut butter, for added texture and others choose to add smooth peanut butter just for added flavour. Sometimes, actual peanuts might be added for extra texture.

Chocolate orange brownies – A beautiful flavour combination – chocolate oranges are another sweet treat many enjoy. The citrus cuts through the chocolate to bring a more refreshing taste. You will get a lovely mixture of flavours with every bite.

Raspberry brownies – Raspberries and chocolate is an excellent pairing. The sharpness of the raspberries is perfectly balanced with the rich chocolate. A lot choose to use freeze dried raspberries as opposed to fresh raspberries to create the flavour. This is could be for two reasons, the first is that fruit often holds a lot of liquid, so by adding fresh fruit you can change the consistency of the brownies and could need to bake them for longer and risk changing the texture. The other reason is that fresh fruit reduces the shelf-life of a baked product, meaning they won’t stay fresh for long. Either way, they are still delicious.

White Chocolate brownies/Blondies – Not everyone enjoys milk or dark chocolate. These brownies could be one of two things. The first is still a chocolate brownie, studded with white chocolate chips or chunks to make them sweeter. The other version is also known as a blondie. They still have a brownie texture but you don’t add the chocolate cocoa powder, these are usually sweeter than original chocolate brownies and can also come in a variety of different flavours.

Find out more about our brownie development here.