Made in a Pinch Favorite Cookbooks: The Essential New York Times Cookbook with brownie recipe

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The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda HesserMade In a Pinch Favorite Cookbooks: The Essential New York Times Cookbook with Brownie article and recipe



Every year, when someone asks me what I want as a gift, I say ‘a cookbook!’.  This response often earns an eye roll as I have a bookcase full of cookbooks.  I love curling up with a cookbook and reading about food and the stories surrounding it.  At our house, the majority of our time is spent in the kitchen. Meal planning, cooking, eating, cleaning, packing up snacks and lunches happens there.  There’s a reason they call it the ‘heart of the home’!  Several years ago, I received The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser and it is one of my favorite cookbooks.

Hesser says The Essential New York Times Cookbook includes “the most noteworthy recipes all the way from the 1850s, when the paper began covering food, to today” (Hesser p. xiii).    Pause for a moment and thing about that: all of the best recipes, printed in the New York Times, in one cookbook.  It gets better!  The recipes in the book involve the stories behind the recipe, both in the cookbook and in the New York Times.  The narratives are always interesting and fun, and the recipes are fantastic.  This is my favorite cookbook to simply sit down and read for fun, and it’s one of the first that I grab when I’m searching for a new favorite recipe.

The Essential New York Times Cookbook Brownies recipe, page 684:

My copy of The Essential New York Times Cookbook falls open to the Brownies recipe, on page 684.

Hesser (2010) writes:

I made many brownie recipes in an effort to find the best one to include in this book.  There was a delicious, elemental one for 1913 that didn’t call for vanilla or salt, a ten-step monster from 1985 that produced a fine chocolaty square; and a few more recent examples, including Katherine Hepburn’s recipe and one by a French pastry chef that was like a souffléd brownie.  In the end, though, I settled on this unadorned version, with classic proportions of butter, sugar, etts, flour, and chocolate, which I believe is the best kind of brownie: a little buttery, a little bitter, a little salty, but mostly about the chocolate.  These brownies also exhibit my favorite brownie detail, a shiny, chewy crackled surface.

This recipe ran close to the holidays in the middle of World War II and was highlighted as a sweet that traveled well as a care package for soldiers.


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Brownies (The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Hesser p.684)
Print Recipe
Brownies (The Essential New York Times Cookbook, Hesser p.684)
Print Recipe
  1. 1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch-square baking pan and line the base with parchment.
  2. 2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat.
    Melted chocolate and butter with sugar and eggs
  3. 3. Beat the eggs with the sugar until the sugar is mostly dissolved, and add to the chocolate mixture. Add the other ingredients and mix well. (Note, I stir the nuts around in the flour mixture to coat them so they disperse through the batter more readily.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  4. 4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost, but not quite, clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then invert the brownie onto a race, remove the parchment, and turn it right side up. When cool, cut into 16 squares.
Recipe Notes

Hesser's cooking note:

You might laugh at the size of these brownies, which are 2-inch squares - brownie "bites" by today's standard.  Cut them larger at your (waistline's) peril.

November 14, 1943: "Gifts for the Absent Ones," By Jane Holt.

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  1. Thanks for this delicious looking brownie recipe Heather.

    I am going to have a crack at making it this weekend and add pieces of it to vanilla ice cream 🙂 Brownie is the perfect add-in for ice cream because it freezes really well and doesn’t turn into rock.

  2. Oh dear ! Everything with pecans is this seasons’ favourite. Brownies and pecans: winner ! Thank you so much ! Pinning !

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