As with many things in the annals of food history, and history in general, the origins of the brownie are somewhat obscured. Certainly this much loved cross between a biscuit and a cake originated in the US; one of the most common attributions is to a chef at a hotel in Chicago who was asked to create an easy-to-eat desert for ladies attending the 1893 World Fair…another version tells us that a chef omitted the baking powder from a chocolate cake recipe...
Whatever the origins, there is no doubt that this delicious concoction of chocolate, butter and eggs has gone on the take its place in the Baking Hall of Fame, altered and amended in a hundred different ways over the last hundred years. Some add nuts; walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts - still others add dried fruit from cranberries to goji berries and apricots, some employ white chocolate in place of dark…and so it goes on.
And then we come to today's version - this historic treat is slimmed down to incorporate all things we love - the chewy fudgy chocolatey texture that is more a cake than a biscuit, contrasted with the crisp snap of flaked almonds and the sweet/salt winning combination of chocolate and vanilla-infused salt (more about this intriguing ingredient in a forthcoming post).
This recipe comes from my latest cookbook crush - Sweet Tooth by Lily Vanilli (aka Lily Jones) an amazingly talented artisan baker from London - her work is fresh and visually beautiful; she takes classic procedures and techniques and brings her own quirky creative edge to baking.