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Looking for the brownies of my youth in the 50s

I think the recipe probably came from the back of a tin of Hersey's cocoa. I've been to the Hershey's site but they must have 4 dozen recipes and that makes it really difficult to isolate the one I'm looking for.

I remember that it used cocoa powder not chocolate and I believe that it used a shockingly scant amount of flour. It *may* have been mixed in the same 8"x8" pan they were baked with.

I can't remember if they were best described as cakey or fudgy. What I remember best about them is that they formed a crackly crust on the top. It's the crunchy crust I'm after.

Anyone know what I'm talking about or got a recipe handed down from the 50s? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I have been enjoying the recipe on the inside of the Baker's Chocolate, Unsweetened squares. I add an extra square of choc. new recipe calls for lining the pan w foil. worked great and eliminated the stiff edges. I creamed the sugar and eggs w hand blender, used extra fine sugar. Top had that cracked, ultra slim layer that I remember from mom in the 50s.

    2 Replies
    1. re: stymie

      I used to be obsessed with comparing recipes all for the same baked good.. I tried all of the latest greatest recipes.. rum raisins, white chocolate, flash freezing, multiple boxes, Julia Child, Smitten Kitchen, Alton Brown, Catherine Hep--etc.

      MORAL: Baker's One Bowl, on the inside of the unsweetened squares box is the absolute best and easiest. They sound like what you describe.

      1. re: GraceW

        I always come back to the Baker's One Bowl recipe. I prefer a cocoa brownie, and substitute a mixture of cocoa and vegetable oil (or butter, or shortening) for the chocolate, but they are wonderful with baking chocolate as well. And, like maplesugar below, I use a 9x13 for a thinner brownie--and also to accommodate the cream cheese mixture I like to swirl on top. :)

    2. I've been making this recipe for years and it bakes up with a nice crust on top and fudgey centre (be careful not to over bake) Makes a 9x13 not 8x8 pan but it might be a good sub. I'm not sure if the recipe dates back to the 50s but the cocoa container this comes from hasn't changed since at least the 70s. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

      1. That paper thin crust that almost seems to hover over the fudgy brownie? Well actually, you can make them fudgy or cakey, but I go for a bit less flour and underbaking and a stint in the fridge overnight to turn them super fudgy. I don't go back as far as the 50s, but my go to 'recipe' is the only one I've ever made that has that amazing crust.

        Ghirardelli cocoa mix (the sweetened one), recipe on the can.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mlou72

          Here is the Ghirardelli cocoa mix recipe.

          Ghirardelli Award Winning Brownies
          Here’s a great brownie recipe from Ghirardelli. This is on the back of their Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa Powder can. Use it for brownies, or use it for hot cocoa. It has a nice and kind of delicate chocolate flavor.
          2 eggs
          3/4 cup of sugar
          1 tsp. vanilla extract
          1/2 cup butter, melted
          3/4 cup Ghirardelli sweet ground chocolate and cocoa powder
          2/3 cup all-purpose flour
          1/4 tsp. baking powder
          1/4 tsp. salt
          1/2 cups walnuts, chopped (I didn’t use)
          1 cup Ghirardelli double chocolate chips
          Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
          Using a spoon, stir the eggs with the sugar; add the vanilla.
          Stir in the butter. Sift the chocolate powder with the flour, baking powder and salt and stir flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add the nuts (if using) and chocoalte chips.
          Spread in a greased 8 inch square pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until just set. Let cool completely.

          1. re: Wtg2Retire

            I like to make the Bakers recipe but now use Ghirardelli chocolate. Bakers is the one from my childhood, 1950s/ 60s. I'd use Bakers chocolate if that's all I had though.

        2. My recipe comes from one of the Amish Country Cookbooks put out by Das Dutchman Essenhaus. I love them because they do call for cocoa (which I always have) instead of baking chocolate. You can get them mixed and baked before you have a chance to talk yourself out of a craving.

          3/4 cup flour
          1 cup sugar
          5 tbsp cocoa
          1/2 cup salted butter
          2 eggs
          1 tsp vanilla

          Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, add dry ingredients, stir in vanilla. Square pan, 350 for 30 minutes. If you're really feeling indulgent, throw in a bag of chocolate chunks. Nothing succeeds like excess.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Jeri L

            That sounds awfully familiar tho I don't remember creaming butter. I suspect I used melted butter.

            I need to get some more eggs and then I think I'll try these and see if they're what I'm thinking of.

            Would you believe a baker who hasn't made a brownie in 15 years or so?

            1. re: rainey

              Last time I made them I accidentally melted the butter when trying to soften it and they were just fine.

              1. re: rainey

                My family liked these but, turns out, that they did not produce the flakiness I'm looking for. The Supernatural Brownies made with chocolate were much closer to what I'm trying to accomplish. They really scored on flavor too.

                It's interesting how similar the ingredients for a whole wad of brownies are but how different the texture and flavor can be.

                1. re: rainey

                  Supernaturals, the winner and still champeen. ;-)

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Drew 8 out of 9 favorites at my house and my daughter who thinks she like ATK's Lunchbox brownies better was remembering them from a day before rather than making a direct comparison.

                    Could be the brown sugar. I sub brown sugar for some or all of the granulated as often as I can. Or it could be the 72% chocolate that I used. But, in fairness, I used Valhrona cocoa for the cocoa brownies they got compared to.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      Adding, several of the tasters said they preferred the texture of the Amish brownies. They were less gooey.

                      I'm wondering if adding a couple tablespoons of flour to the Supernatural Brownies would help. Sacrllege, I know, but the texture was the one vulnerability that couid be addressed. I'm also contemplating baking the batter in two 8" x 8" pans instead of a single 9" x 13".

                      Any thoughts?

                      1. re: rainey

                        Definitely. You could add 1/4 cup I think. I've never baked them as long as it called for (my ovens ran hot until this one), that might help too. I also add as much as a tsp of baking powder.

                        1. re: rainey

                          A *bit* off topic, but weren't you trying to perfect a brownie-for-one a few months ago? Baked in a teacup -- any success? I think you tried several.

                          I was thinking at the time that you just couldn't beat a mix for that project -- Ghirardelli double chocolate is a good one, recommended here at Chowhound for brownie emergencies.

                          1. re: blue room

                            I don't know about "perfect". ;> I tried one recipe or maybe even a couple. It was a novelty tho and my son did the tasting. I think they were really more cake than brownie. And, let's face it, a single serving is simply NOT enough. ;> My family has been going through pans full in the last 2 days. ...and I still haven't tried Ina Garten's brownies.

                2. Two good retro brownie recipes:

                  Katharine Hepburn's family recipe:

                  Sequoia Brownies, favorite of several Presidents:

                  The Hepburn brownies use only ¼ cup of flour. I agree, however, that the Baker's Chocolate recipe sounds as if it may be what you're looking for..

                  1 Reply
                  1. Cook's Magazine had the Best Brownie recipe ever, scant amounts of flour, nice crisp top. Here's a link to the recipe online:
                    If you want a giggle, scroll down to the comments section...the recipe is the right one though...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: freia

                      Thanks. Those are the ATK Lunchbox Brownies I started with. They're good. But they weren't what I was looking for.

                      I'm going to try the Katherine Hepburn brownies when I take off the 5 pounds I've put on so far baking brownies. ;>

                      1. re: rainey

                        LOL! Enjoy the hunt! I think I gained 5 lbs just reading this thread! :)

                    2. From your description this recipe might fit the bill:

                      They are one of my go-to brownie recipes!

                      1 Reply
                      1. From The Good Housekeeping Cookbook, pub.1963, p. 137 ("The Best of Susan", heheh) - this is one of the older books I have, presumably the recipe dates from the 50's. Interesting there's so little chocolate in them.
                        "Fudgies" variation of "Brownies" recipe
                        1/2 c sifted a-p flour
                        1/8 tsp each baking powder and salt (I'd use more salt)
                        1 c granulated sugar
                        1/2 c soft butter
                        2 eggs, unbeaten
                        1 tsp vanilla
                        2 to 2 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
                        1 c "chopped walnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, or peanuts" (surprised at that pistachio nuts, they were expensive as heck then)
                        Sift dry ingredients together.
                        Cream butter and sugar "until very light and fluffy".
                        Stir in eggs and vanilla until smooth.
                        Mix in chocolate, flour, nuts
                        8x8 pan, 325 deg F, 30-35 mins.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: buttertart

                          Rainey, did you see this? It has the amount of chocolate my mom would have used then. Recipes were lower in choc then than they are now.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Thanks for focusing my attention on it. I may have missed it first time through.

                            2 oz. of chocolate sounds familiar to me but I really don't think creaming was involved. Not that there aren't a *world* of delicious brownies and methods out there. There ARE! I just wish I could re-create the ones I remember.

                            It's so odd that I bake all the time but don't seem to have made brownies in 30 years or even more. So, unfortunately, I have hardly any memories of doing to to draw on. I do remember though that they were stunningly simple in their method and hardly any ingredients. In fact, I *think* I remember that they had no leavening at all. Even as a young and inexperienced baker I was enough surprised by that that I think it's stayed with me. (As much as I can trust my memory of anything at 60+)

                            Anyway, thanks, buttertart and everyone. I have to take a break from brownies as I've overwhelmed my family and we can't handle these excessive calories. But I am making a spreadsheet of all the various tried-and-true recipes. It's kind of refreshing that they don't have embedded Reese's or cappuccino icing or swirled cheesecake or any of the excess upon excess that seem to be the contemporary approach.

                            There are some awesome recipes in this thread! Thanks again and I hope you've all had an opportunity to enjoy a little decadence with a tall glass of milk toof! ;>

                          1. rainey, I would urge you to give these a try. These may be THE ONES you're seeking. I do the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt step in the microwave @ 60% power. Don't be alarmed that the batter is stiff. The bake out beautifully.


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: letsindulge

                              Thanks. I'll give these a whirl too. But first I have to find some volunteers to eat them. I'm not kidding -- everyone in my family has gained weight in the last week. =o

                              1. re: rainey

                                pick me PICK ME! I'll try them LOL...

                                1. re: freia

                                  Stop on over!

                                  I took a plate of them to the neighbors who were just arriving home from school with a backseat full of 3rd grade boys. The screeching was a wonderful hearth-warming thing to hear! And I think they'll be able to run the extra calories off much faster than we are. ;>