A Brownie Tribute

My grandfather was friends with a lady who defined Maine cooking. She was a BDN columnist from 1951-1994, a highly respected Food Judge, cookbook author, Home Food Economist, Nutritionist and just all around good Samaritan. Her name is synonymous with todays recipe but not actually tied to its origination. We are talking about Mildred Schrumpf, but we will call her Brownie. Anyone remember the TV series titled “A Time to Live”? She was the recognized food expert on that program.
It would take forever to list her accomplishments and awards so needless to say I will tell you that I grew up reading her column and my father and grandfather always spoke very highly of her way of cooking. At the beginning, she didn’t want anything to do with premade food or food mixes. She taught everyone how to do it yourself just as cost effective as you would buy that same food premade. But as the years went on, she understood the time constraints parents were beginning to feel at home and decided using many packaged items in her recipe column and tutorials. I will, however say that Brownie had the same mindset as I do, she used what was available locally first, either grown or made, and always taught simple methods of preparation. For that, she was a great inspiration.
Many people also refer to Brownie as that Bangor, Maine woman who invented the Brownie, but sadly this is untrue. Certainly there must be a connection between her moniker and the ever-loved cake or fudgy confection, right? Although she was around the area when brownies were thought to have been accidentally invented in Bangor, Maine, she was but a little girl most likely still in diapers. But she did leave one everlasting remembrance with my grandfather, her own brownie recipe. Here is the list of ingredients but not the preparation. My grandfather(the first Yankee Chef) never wrote down any preparation methods, simple the ingredients list of all recipes. Guess he figured my father and I should be smart enough to know how to prepare it. So needless to say, Brownie’s list of ingredients for her delicious fudgy brownies are listed below but the preparation method is mine.

Brownie’s Brownies
Want a great tip? Do you know that great sheen often seen on brownies after baking. You can achieve that yourself by simply leaving your brownie batter in the pan and in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking. The air dries out the top of the brownie and gives it that slight crunch and sheen after baking.
I would also like to add that, generally, the more eggs you put into a brownie recipe, the more cake-like it will become. Even with 4 eggs here, this brownie is more classified as a fudge brownie as opposed to a cake brownie.

4 ounces bittersweet baking chocolate*
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup flour plus more for dusting
Nonstick cooking spray(not in Brownie’s list though)

Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add a spoonful of flour, tilt to coat, and tap out any excess; set aside. Either in a metal bowl placed over a pot of simmering water or in the microwave, melt the chocolate and butter together, stir to combine. Microwave for 1 minute, stir and keep warming at 15 second intervals until fully melted and mixed together. Remove from heat:set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla together. Beat in the sugar until well incorporated. Slowly beat in the melted chocolate on low, then add the flour in 2 batches, beating until smooth with your beater on low. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, mix well and pour into you prepared pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the sides pull away and the center bounces back after being gently touched. You really can’t use the toothpick method here because with fudgy brownies, you want some of the brownie to adhere to the toothpick.
Remove from oven and, well enjoy!

*Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate chocolate can be used interchangeably with only minor differences between the two. If you want to use chocolate chips, lessen the amount of sugar in this recipe by 1/2 cup.

Brownie wrote two great local books, The Flavor of Maine and Memories from Brownie’s Kitchen. After retiring, she was still a workaholic. She judged many food exhibits, regularly provided food to the elderly and infirm(many times taking them herself to the supermarket or simply out to shop) and talked about home cooking at dozens of schools.