Palmer House Brownies

I think we’ve all heard the story of how chocolate chip cookies were the result of a baking mistake by the woman who owned the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts back in the early 1900s, but did you ever hear how brownies came to be?

Brownies were created when Mrs. Bertha Palmer asked the chef of the Palmer House Hotel (owned by her husband) to make a “ladies’ dessert” that would be cake-like but smaller than a piece of cake or pie.  She wanted them to be put into box lunches at the Women’s Pavilion at the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, in 1893.  Well, little did that chef know how popular his newly created dessert would become!

The original recipe called for apricot preserves to be brushed over the brownies, but I’ve eliminated that step and just stuck to the glorious chocolate.  After the brownies are baked and are at room temperature, they are chilled before serving.  I, of course, snuck a piece while they were still warm and basically had to eat it with a spoon because it was so warm, moist and gooey.  The brownies undergo quite a transformation once they are chilled, and they become decadently fudge-like.  Now I know I tend to use the world “decadent” quite often when it comes to describing chocolate desserts; but, believe me, it is the most descriptive adjective for a dessert this moist and this darkly chocolate.  Oh my, oh my, oh my–are they ever good!  Simply frantastic, I’d say.

Palmer House Brownies

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  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 1/2 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
  • 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup plus 6 tbl. granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line an 8-inch square metal pan with non-stick foil or line with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.

Stir together cake flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan set over medium heat.  Add chocolate.  Reduce heat to low and stir until chocolate is melted.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Beat eggs and sugar together for about 40 seconds in a mixing bowl using high speed of an electric mixer.  Stir or whisk in the melted chocolate and vanilla.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate batter and gently fold it in.  Spread batter into prepared pan.

Sprinkle the nuts over the brownies.

Bake brownies for 40-45 minutes (mine were done right around 35 minutes) or until edges are raised and have begun to pull away from pan.  Note that you will probably need to loosely cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil for the last 10 minutes or so of baking in order to prevent the nuts from over browning.

Cool at room temperature for an hour.  As the brownies cool, the center will sink which creates the dense fudginess of the brownie.  After the brownies have cooled, transfer them to the refrigerator to chill.  Lift from pan and cut into squares.

Yum--it doesn't get any fudgier than this!

Source:   Adapted from a Cookie Madness recipe

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