Posts Tagged With: brownie

342/365: National Chocolate Brownie Day

If you can’t decide between a cookie or a slice of cake today, why not settle for a cross between the two? December 8 is National Chocolate Brownie Day!

Now, we’ve already celebrated blonde brownies and cream cheese brownies and butterscotch brownies. I was surprised we hadn’t yet paid homage to the most popular of all brownies, chocolate. But it turns out we did, kind of. Tara made chocolate brownies for National Bittersweet Chocolate Day back in January. So, we have definitely been down this path before, and talked about the history of the brownie. It was created at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago and originally featured an apricot glaze and walnuts; this version is still sold there to this day. But there are some enduring myths about how brownies came about, legends that refuse to die. According to various sources, brownies:

  • Were the result of a chef accidentally adding melted chocolate to biscuit dough;
  • Were invented when a cook forgot to add flour to the batter;
  • Were the creation of a housewife who did not have baking powder but decided to serve the flattened cakes to her guests anyway.

Like the Loch Ness Monster, these are nothing but tall tales. Although…

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

For our challenge, we baked a batch of chocolate brownies!  had every intention of baking a batch of chocolate brownies, but were so busy with cleaning and cooking and football watching it was easier just to run to the store and grab a gourmet chocolate brownie from the bakery. Plus that way, we were limited to 1/2 a brownie each, instead of who-knows-how-many we would have been tempted to eat. So, good choice! (It was amazing, too).

National Chocolate Brownie Day

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

129/365: National Butterscotch Brownie Day

Today’s food holiday doesn’t really honor a brownie so much as a blondie, despite the name. May 9 is National Butterscotch Brownie Day!

I’d never heard of a butterscotch brownie before. I figured it was a chocolate brownie made with butterscotch chips, but that’s not the case at all. A butterscotch brownie is really just another name for a blondie, or a blonde brownie, which we already celebrated once this year. The butterscotch doesn’t even refer to actual butterscotch chips, but rather, the ingredients that go into making butterscotch: brown sugar and butter. Which are part of what makes up butterscotch brownies. Are you confused yet? I am!

Chocolate brownies may be more popular, but butterscotch brownies have been around about a hundred years longer. They date back to the 19th century, and are based on gingerbread cakes that were popular during the Renaissance period. Those cakes evolved into flatter ones baked in shallow pans that often included nuts and brown sugar. As delicious as they are, they just don’t have the same appeal as their darker cousin, the brownie. I get it. Chocolate is sexy. Butterscotch brownies literally pale in comparison, and are never topped with frosting. But, as I’ve said, they’re still quite good.

Tara made us a batch of butterscotch brownies from scratch. They were fantastic! Very butterscotchy


Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

41/365: National Cream Cheese Brownie Day

Whew! Thank goodness today’s food holiday celebrates a dessert. It’s been two whole days! (Even though we ate our molasses bars for breakfast). Today is National Cream Cheese Brownie Day.

Brownies are delicious. Cream cheese is great. Combining the two verges on genius, if you ask me!

I already discussed the history of brownies back on January 22nd, when we celebrated National Blonde Brownie Day. Chicago World’s Fair, Bertha Palmer, yadda yadda. No need to rehash the past. I guess that means I’ll have to focus on cream cheese instead! Early versions of cream cheese date back to the 16th century, but the American version was another of those happy accidents. In 1872, New York dairy farmer William Lawrence was attempting to make a batch of Neufchatel, a type of soft white cheese popular in France, but screwed up the recipe. His cheese was richer and contained cream, so he capitalized on his mistake and called it “cream cheese.” As if that were his intention all along. Typical entrepreneur! He ended up purchasing a Neufchâtel cheese factory and mass-producing cream cheese with his business partner, Samuel Durland. In 1880 a cheese distributor named Alvah Reynolds began selling Lawrence & Durland cheese, and he created a new brand name for it: Philadelphia Cream Cheese, based on that city’s reputation for making really good movies about down-on-their-luck boxers named Rocky cream cheese. Eventually Philadelphia merged with Kraft, and to this day those silver rectangular boxes are considered to be the gold standard of cream cheeses. Neufchâtel, by the way, is still manufactured, usually as a reduced-fat version of cream cheese, since it contains 33% less fat and a higher moisture content. Tara, in fact, is quite fond of Neufchâtel. The first time she bought it, I asked her where the “real” cream cheese was. I’ve since learned not to question her in matters of cheese. Cream cheese brownies consist of regular chocolate brownies with cream cheese swirled in to the mix.

Before I get to our brownies, I wanted to mention that once again we had a surprise visitor to the blog. Or a pair of visitors, actually: Alfredo and Ilse Di Lileo, the grandchildren of Alfredo Di Lileo, the inventor of Fettuccine Alfredo. I told his story here, and his grandkids happened upon the article and dropped by to say hi. They gave me a little information on what happened to their grandfather after his pasta dish achieved acclaim, and offered a slight correction, letting me know the current name of the restaurant in Rome is Il Vero Alfredo. We were honored and humbled that they would stop by and take the time to write us. This blog continues to surprise us in unintended ways!

So, the cream cheese brownies. What can I say? What else is there to say?? They were, of course, fantastic!

Cream Cheese Brownie

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

22/365: National Blonde Brownie Day

Today we celebrate all things Deborah Harry! From “Heart of Glass” to “Rapture,” Blondie had a string of hits beginning in the 1970s and continuing through the…oh, wait…wrong Blondie. January 22nd is actually National Blonde Brownie Day. My bad.

Blonde Brownies are often called Blondies, though. They may look like brownies, but they are made with brown sugar instead of chocolate. If you think a brownie without chocolate is sacrilege, you can add chocolate chips to ensure you get your daily dose of cacao. They may also be made with nuts, coconut, toffee, and other candies for added texture. Blonde brownies have a taste reminiscent of butterscotch.

Oops...wrong Blondie.

Oops…wrong Blondie.

Incidentally, I once got into an argument with a woman over the correct spelling of the word blonde. I insisted it had an “e” on the end, she said it did not. I later learned that both spellings were technically correct, but blonde typically refers to females and blond describes males. Which means, I guess, that the blonde brownies we celebrate today are girls. Good to know. I won’t have to lift mine up now and look at the bottom to figure out the sex.

Brownies were invented in the late 19th century in Chicago. Socialite Bertha Palmer, during the 1893 World’s Fair, wanted a dessert for ladies to enjoy. A chef at the Palmer House Hotel (this is not a coincidence; the hotel was a wedding gift from her husband. Bertha was the Paris Hilton of her day) created a treat that was a cross between a cookie and a cake. Traditionally baked in a pan and sliced into squares, brownies are tasty and portable. I’m not sure what makes them a dessert fit for ladies, but this gentleman sure does dig ’em.

Incidentally, brownies weren’t the only food that debuted at the World’s Fair that year. Cracker Jack, cream of wheat, Juicy Fruit gum, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer were all served for the first time in 1893. Nowadays, you go to the fair, and the only innovative foods you see are deep fried Twinkies. I’m not sure if that is considered progress or not (though really, was PBR?).

By the way, there is an excellent book about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair called Devil In The White City by Erik Larson. It intersperses tales of the world’s fair (one of the most spectacular ever staged) with a serial killer who used the setting to lure his victims to their deaths…and it’s a true story. I highly recommend it.

The nice thing about blonde brownies is, they are just as tasty at breakfast. Especially with a tall glass of milk or a hot cup of coffee. It’s always nice when we can cross the challenge off our list early in the day.

Blonde Brownie

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

Blog at