When I was growing up, my mother rarely let us help in the kitchen unless she was in a really good mood. My sister is 3 years older than I and she was allowed to make brownies when she was about 11. I loved Carole’s brownies and I couldn’t wait to be 11 so I could make them too.
On the day I turned 11 I asked if I could make the brownies only to be told that Carole did brownies and I’d have to learn something else. I wanted brownies! Finally I gave in and went for peanut butter cookies but I always
resented wished I could be the brownie baker.
When I left home I took Carole’s brownie recipe with me. It’s been in the family for 75 years and I’ve never seen a reason to change. Oh I’ve flirted with extra fudgy brownies but I always come back to these. The recipe I have is only ingredients. My mother never felt the need for instructions, she assumed everyone knew what to do.
My sister visited a couple of years ago and when we arrived home from the airport, I had a big plate of these brownies ready and told her they were HER brownies. She looked at me as if I were from another planet.
“What MY brownies are you talking about?” she asked.
“The ones you made as a kid. I copied the recipe before I left home,” I said.
I got the big eye roll and she said she’d found a much better recipe than that and had been using it for 40 years. I felt flattened. I’d been making THE BROWNIES all my adult life and now she says they weren’t the best?
Well, she took one bite and said, “I forgot how good these are. These are better than mine.”
“They ARE yours, you loon,” said in the only way siblings talk to one another without getting smacked around.
I’m quite sure these brownies originally came from the back of a chocolate box or a woman’s magazine but that doesn’t make them any less good. Normally I use butter rather than shortening but this batch was made exactly like my mother’s recipe was written with 4 tablespoons of shortening melted with the chocolate.
- 4 ounces (116 grams) of unsweetened chocolate (that's bitter chocolate with no sugar)
- 4 tbs shortening (butter will work just fine)
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1½ cups plain (all-purpose) flour
- pinch salt
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Melt shortening and chocolate together.
- When melted, add sugar and beat well with a wooden spoon.
- Add eggs and beat again.
- Add vanilla
- Stir baking powder and salt into flour and add to mixture and mix in nuts.
- Pour into a 9x13 baking pan and bake for exactly 25 minutes. These are not good if overcooked. (I don't think so anyway)
If you need a low dairy free, gluten free and a low FODMAP recipe for these brownies, Nataliya from Not From a Packet has changed this recipe. Now if you’ve got health issues, you can still eat an old fashioned brownie.
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Old treasures, delicious brownies and a lovely tale, Maureen. Love it.
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
I wonder if our mums were the same person? We weren’t allowed to cook much at all and I really wanted to. However the difference between your family and mine was that my sister wasn’t interested. 🙂
Veronica (Roni) says
Mmmmm, they look real….divine.
You always tell such lovely stories Maureen, & the photos put us right there….so tempting!
It’s a bit like a big tease….I must go cook something yummy now :))
Olivia @mademoiselleinsydney says
My mother would not let me help her out either! Was not allowed to bake/cook or do anything in the kitchen as she was scared her spotless kitchen would become a mess! I love the look of your brownies, i recall the best brownies I had were in America, when I was studying there… Cannot wait to try your recipe, just have to get some unsweetened chocolate ????
My Kitchen Stories says
Such a lovely story Maureen. Our memories as family members are the same but so different. Its always funny to share the stories with siblings. My Mother avoided cooking at all costs, so when we stepped into the kitchen she disappeared
Rachel (Rachel's Kitchen NZ) says
They do look VERY good Maureen. For so long (it seemed to me) – I was only allowed to make fudge cake (crushed biscuits, cocoa, melted butter, eggs etc) I graduated at about age 8. My mother cooked and encouraged me – she really had no option!
NOOOOO! I just used my last three eggs for our breakfast. These look exactly like the brownies that a friend of the family used to make. Can’t wait to try them!
Marilyn Lesniak says
I think brownies are the favorite in my home. Hubby loves them plain, and anytime I suggest icing, an addition or topping he just says. Plain. Old. Brownies. Please! So I am trying yours to make him happy. They look great!
Carol Preibis says
These look and sound wonderful.
I’ll share on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
Wishing you well,
Carol Preibis says
These look and sound wonderful.
I’ll share on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.
John@Kitchen Riffs says
Good stories. Sometimes the old recipes really are the best . Butter for me, though. That’s always my answer, no matter what the question. 🙂
What a great story, Maureen. I was never interested in cooking as a kid and now that I’ve got my own kitchen, I don’t like having anyone else in there when I’m cooking. My nephew always stands RIGHT in my way as I move around between the counter, fridge and stove. I wish he’d just sit at the kitchen table if he wants to be in there when I’m working. 🙂
The brownies DO look dark and moist.
Nagi@RecipeTin Eats says
Ha ha!! I love this story!! You and your sis – I can only imagine the hilariousness of the conversations!! I like that it looks like the perfect balance between fudge and cakey. I can’t handle brownies that are too fudgy.
But what i like best about this is the fire engine red nails. Oh my Maureen!! RAUNCHY!! 🙂
Oh Nagi, I am SUCH a slut. 🙂
Brownies are a sore subject with me, due to my inability to hit the jackpot with a batch that finally will bring Phil to say “these are THE ones”
but I know that he likes extra fudgy, because that’s the type he just enjoyed while we were in Hawaii, and he was very eager to point them to me as a good example. I am thinking of writing the hotel and ask for their recipe, but until I do that, I will investigate your recipe in the link, the one for the fudgy kind
(loved the photo with the red fingernails, but I suspect you knew I would! 😉
Glamorous Glutton says
Great story, I bet the brownies really do stand the test of time. Thank you. GG
Amanda (@lambsearshoney) says
I am sooo making these this afternoon as part of my lifelong quest for the best brownie recipe in the world.
(To clarify – this is a quest that I expect & hope will have no end.)
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Oh a brownie is just what I need! With a nice glass of cold milk :).
Sisters. Family. What would we do without them.? Now you have made me hungry for brownies. 🙂
Hotly Spiced says
Well thank you for including the instructions. I do love how crispy they are on the top and how gooey underneath. My mother never liked us to be in the kitchen either. Always said we would make too much rest. But she used to go overseas a lot and as soon as the taxi had taken her down the drive and off to the airport, I was in the kitchen baking. But she didn’t have a brownie recipe! xx
Nancy | Plus Ate Six says
Breakfast fail again. I must eat before I open a food blog email……..is the top a little bit sugary crunchy and the middle just beautifully dense? Looks that way. My brothers and I have the same the conversations – only much more personal 🙂
Claire @ Claire K Creations says
I love a family recipe. That’s a bit rough that you weren’t allowed to make them although it sounds like you made up for lost time. I now want to run to the kitchen and make a batch myself. I am hosting mother’s group tomorrow. That sounds like a reasonable excuse to me?
I’ve had these type of classic, old-fashioned brownies before… but not for a long, long time! Must be time to whip some up! Thanks for sharing your tried and true recipe. 😉
Lovely story but it can’t top the one about your mum spraying your dad wet with the garden hose …classic and many households need that kind of humour.
Oh this made me laugh. 🙂 I never fail to be amazed at how siblings remember the same life so very differently. 🙂 Your brownies look fantastic. 🙂
Stephanie - The Dessert Spoon says
These brownies look perfect – dense and moist with a cracked top!
April @ Girl Gone Gourmet says
I’m wondering what difference the shortening makes? I’ve always used butter, so I’m curious now!
movita beaucoup says
This sounds like every baking conversation I’ve had with my mother ever.
A recipe that is in your family from 45 years old, it must be a good one ! I will love taste these brownies. When a recipe has an story is much bettter !
Eva Taylor says
I had a similar experience a few years back when I made pineapple upside down cake, it was my brother’s favourite and when I mentioned it, same look. Disappointing for sure. I love the crackle top you’ve achieved, I bet they are perfectly textured.
Judy @Savoring Today says
I cannot remember ever eating brownies growing up. For us it was homemade doughnuts, though I cannot imagine letting my 12 yr old babysit a pan of hot oil, but we did. I still haven’t eaten a restaurant doughnut that good. Of course, I haven’t made them in over 30 years now, it could be the memory is better than they actually were. As I was researching brownies over the weekend for a recipe I’m working on, there was quite the debate over cake-like brownies and gooey brownies. I have yet to see anyone turn down either when a pan is presented, but like most food, we have so much of it, opinions abound. I would guess your brownies are on the cake-like side, which I love, and I love even more that the recipe has been in your family for 75 years. 🙂
Jill Colonna says
What a funny story, Maureen. Must be great to have a brownie-making sister and then reconnect over the recipe later! I only made melting moments – the closest to brownies I got was that this recipe came from the Brownie Cook Book! (as in Girl Guides, ahem.) And my brother used to just scoff them.
Oh, and love the nails! Great fun. Making me think I should be better at being a mum: nagging my girls for the nail varnish and trying to chase them out of the kitchen. Lesson learned, my friend!
Kate @ Babaganosh.org says
Mmm, the crackly top of those brownies looks perfect!
I’m glad you got a chance to make these brownies too, and it sounds like they turned out as amazing as they’ve always been!
My grandma was an excellent cook and she never gave out her recipes or wrote them down. Your brownies look delicious!
Great narration, love your stories. I always have a smile when I read posts like this.
Haven’t made a brownie is ages, I might just make these tonight. Old fashioned, simple brownies with a huge scoop of icecream, anytime;).
I love a classic brownie like that, together with my black coffee. Now can you send me a slice or two while I get my coffee 🙂
Mary Frances says
This is such a cute story, Maureen, you and your sister sound like such a pair! I have my own personal default brownie recipe but yours DO look wonderful, I’ll have to give them a try 😉
Vicki Bensinger says
I love this story. You told it so well I imagined every detail as it happened and made me feel so sad. Of course you wanted to make those brownies and I’m sorry your mom should have let you. I’m glad you made them for your sister sparking her memory as to how delicious they were. My guess is your version is its best rendition. ????
Helen | Grab Your Fork says
Ooh you can’t a good brownie recipe. Love the crackle top to these and lol at your poor childhood self banned from brownies. Are you sure your sister didn’t secretly want to be a peanut cookie maker as well?
Anna @ shenANNAgans says
Have a sh#tty day… a really freakin rotten day. Your story made me smile tho, thank you. 🙂 So did your brownie recipe. Sent it to my brother and asked him to make it for desserts tonight. Yarm!
I love “old fashioned” brownies Maureen. I have a recipe that I made for a long time that called for the same baker’s chocolate and haven’t made them in years. You’ve inspired me to get that recipe out and make up a batch. Thank you!
Norma Chang says
Guess you will have a plate of “Carole’s” brownies waiting for Carole when she visit this summer. Counting the days?
Yes!!! I’m not down to counting sleeps but close. 🙂
Love that you reintroduced these to your sister! And, those crackly tops look fantastic.
Great post Maureen, you had me grinning the whole time…I have two sisters!
Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic says
I love that these are your sister’s and your brownies, too 🙂
Ciao Florentina says
Okay, so I totally need to eat some brownies right now, I have so much to do today but oh man these look so good I must have some, or like an entire tray.
Tara Noland says
Nothing better than a great brownie. Walnuts are a must, so I am so glad you have them in!! I am sad when I make them for the church or school and have to leave them nut free. Yours look fantastic!!
Emma @ Bake Then Eat says
Oh I love old family recipes like this, the funny thing being most of them do come from the back of food packets but like you said it doesn’t make any difference they still taste great 😀
Emma @ Bake Then Eat says
I love old family recipes they are always the best, even if they do come from the back of a packet of something which they nearly always do 😀
Melissa B says
Such a cute story! =)
I love brownies, I’m going to have to try yours ( …your sisters ) recipe soon!
Tricia @ Saving room for dessert says
Oh Maureen – I’ve never met a brownie I didn’t like! How special those memories are to us – I also have an older sister but thankfully she didn’t like to bake. Truth be told she and my mother didn’t get along and I was much better at taking orders. My mom and her mom taught me to bake and make candy. But my mom made horrible meatloaf and dirt dry pot roasts. Glad you turned your sister back to the tried and true – and thanks for sharing it with us!
You and your sister are so funny, I can only imagine all the conversation…My husband will love these brownies…I will try to make them since I have all the ingredients…
Have a great week Maureen 🙂
Your story reminds me of me and my sister. 🙂 Great story Maureen and Yummy, yummy brownies! Simple and classic!
Kitchen Belleicious says
my mom loved to have me in the kitchen. It is how I learned the art of substitution! LOL! I love this brownies. they look amazing and fudgy
The Ninja Baker says
I appreciate the nuances of sisterhood and love the story…BTW Baking PB cookies is pretty darn fabulous, too =) Anyway, your brownies / your sister’s / your mom’s – your brownies, Maureen look deeee- vine! Pinning =)
InTolerant Chef says
What a great story, how funny that you kept true to THE RECIPE all this time while your sister was making inferior brownies all along 🙂 Littlej had the baking bug lately, so I know she’ll live to give these a try thanks x
I wish I had found this recipe last week when my niece was here from Germany. She likes chocolate and brownies are the new rage in Germany. This looks so good that I have to make it anyway.
haha what a funny story 🙂 Gotta love mum recipes huh! Love the photos!
Simply Sweet Justice says
“If you’re feeling chocolate deprived…” Ah, you know me well! 😉
Anna @ shenANNAgans says
Mmmm. I could go a slab of this wicked chocolatey goodness. My boss is being an absolute bully to me this past few weeks, feeling rather low, but we all know chocolate (and bacon) make everything feel better. 🙂
My grannies brownie recipe called for shortening too, makes it more moist.
I always thought she used shortening because it was cheaper than butter. 🙂
Hi Maureen, I just made a gluten free and low FODMAP version of these brownies – would you be okay if I shared the altered recipe on my blog, linking back here for credit, of course. 🙂
Andy Bland says
I so want these brownies. Look so yummy!
These brownies look delicious. Sometimes old fashioned is best. 🙂
These are wonderful brownies however the secret iof all brownies lies in letting them set. It’s hard to find the willpower to let them set but set they must to achieve the proper goeey cakey texture.