The decadent, chewy, fresh-from-the-oven brownie is a classic American dessert. US History Scene states that the first brownies ever made were a result of socialite Bertha Potter Palmer's request of her chef at Chicago's Palmer House Hotel in 1893 "to create a dessert that could be tucked into a box lunch for ladies to eat while attending the Columbian Exposition."
From this request, "a super-rich, fudge-chocolate confection" known as the Palmer House brownie was born.
Though brownies in their simplest form are a fav, we often find ourselves looking for creative options to keep this ageless treat fresh and intriguing—and these are just a few of our favorite ways.
Here are the 8 ingredients we used as a base for our brownies:
- 1½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 c. cane (white) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 c. unsalted butter
- ½ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 4 oz. dark chocolate
- ½ tsp. sea salt
- 1/3 c. cocoa powder
With three kinds of chocolate in these brownies, even the most hardcore chocoholic in your household is likely to be impressed.
And this is the basic recipe for making brownies perfect every time:
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 9 x 9 baking dish (metal or glass works best).
- Melt together the butter and the dark chocolate, then let the mixture cool slightly.
- Stir in the sugar and the eggs (make sure the mixture is cooled enough not to scramble the eggs).
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt, making sure everything is well incorporated.
- Add these dry ingredients to the melted chocolate mixture, then fold in the chocolate chips until they are melted in as well.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking dish.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle of the brownies comes out mostly clean.
Of all the miraculous brownie additions we experiment with, a total favorite in our dessert-loving kitchen is a layer of caramel sauce. We used the recipe from Ashton at Something Swanky for our caramel brownie inspiration. We also used most of a large jar of store-bought caramel sauce. That's inspiring in and of itself!
Once the brownies are baked, it's time to add the caramel. If it oozes over the sides and forms luscious little pools of golden brown goodness, well, you might have to cut an edge off the brownie to soak that up. Besides, you really should sample your confection before you serve it to guests. Just to make sure it's good, and all.
The salty, creamy caramel is the perfect addition to the richness of a chocolate brownie. And for an extra salty boost, a minimal sprinkling of sea salt adds just the right balance.
But, caramel isn't the only topping we gravitate towards. Check out these six items to jazz up the top of your chewy chocolate bar cookie.
With brownies, we opt for ½ cup of mint cream candies or peppermint patties, slightly crushed. Just use the main recipe featured above and throw the crushed candies on top.
You can also sneak the little minty gems right into your batter to give your guests a good surprise with their late night cappuccinos. That little burst of mint, on top of the caffeine, can keep the conversation going well into the wee hours.
Should you need to conduct further brownie baking research, see the Huffington Post's article on The Ultimate Scientifically-Tested Guide to Baking the Perfect Brownies. Have any family recipes or favorite ways to bake your brownies? Let us know in the comments below!