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Scrumptious Brownies: An American Original

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IMG_3708We are categorizing brownies as “American originals,” but everyone in the world loves brownies, even people who are not “chocolate people” like myself.    So imagine receiving a snowy white post office box with only the holiday logos on it in the mail and opening it to feast your eyes on the image above.  It is a SCRUMPTIOUS FLAVORS box of brownies, all beautifully in hard plastic “canning” containers.  They are fun, and they are light and unbreakable.  The rich brownies inside are the perfect combination of dense fudginess with layers of chocolate flavor in a sweet little bite size.   In fact, the original treats are labeled, Bite Sized Brownies.

Scrumptious Flavors comes from an all American town in the west: Whittier, California.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a back story to this endeavor, but the brownies are so good it doesn’t seem to matter.

Each Wam Bam Chocolate is the “Signature Double Chocolate” with Chocolate chips and coffee blended evenly and unobtrusively into the small brownies for elegance.  The Scrumptious bakers recommend these as the perfect treat with a glass wine.  

Butterscotch Bliss is the Signature Double chocolate with Butterscotch chips.

Heavenly Caramel, a Chewy Caramel with Signature double chocolate, was designed especially for caramel lovers.

We tried each of the different kinds with vanilla ice cream, coffee gelato, with espresso and as the centerpiece of mixed fresh fruit on a dessert plate (blackberries, blueberries and pomegranates- with a dollop of freshly whipped cream or creme fraische.  And guess what.  All of them worked!

Gooey Gluten Free is relatively new.  The name says it all. People say it is the best gluten-free brownie that they have ever had.  However, Scrumptious Brownie staff adds, “we do our best to make this a gluten-free product, it is baked on shared equipment, and we cannot guarantee it’s purity.”

 

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Yes, brownies are everyone’s favorites, and why not with their chocolate base and combination textures of cookie and cake?

According to http://ushistoryscene.com/resources, Emerging digital research technology can help us to better understand the trajectory of brownie popularity over time. The Google Books Ngram Viewer tool suggests that the word “brownies” has been published significantly more since the 1970s.

The history site claims that, “no further research is necessary to uncover the roots of the increase to the ever-growing demand for the classic dessert, as evidenced by the fact that entire cookbooks are now devoted solely to chocolate brownies.”

Classic American brownies were heavily affected by these endeavors in the line of manufacturing, primarily through changes in the chocolate available and the culinary innovation of prepared mixes. Three large food companies – General Foods, General Mills, and Pillsbury – played an important role in the development of cake and brownie mixes in the middle of the twentieth century, relying heavily on national distribution and advertising. Companies sponsored national “Bake-Offs” or recipe contest events with cash prizes to encourage home cooking innovation. They also regularly produced television advertisements and sponsored cooking shows to promote their products.Through co-branding, Betty Crocker/General Mills and Hershey’s were able to share in the promotion of this brownie mix.

Food industry product design has kept up with changing technology and lifestyles. Following health fads and dietary restrictions, whether high protein, low sugar, low fat, low carb, high fiber, raw, vegan, or gluten-free, brownies have more recently taken on a role as a diet food!

Some brownie recipes even call for beets, black beans or pureed carrots and spinach, as a means to sneak healthier ingredients into what was originally designed as a dessert.  One divisive product recently launched on the market, Lazy Cakes, is a brownie that includes a large dose of melatonin to make consumers sleepy, a counterpart to the host of contentious energy drinks currently available.


IMG_3708Classic American brownies were heavily affected by these developments, primarily through changes in the chocolate available and the culinary innovation of prepared mixes. Three large food companies – General Foods, General Mills, and Pillsbury – played an important role in the development of cake and brownie mixes in the middle of the twentieth century, relying heavily on national distribution and advertising. Companies sponsored national “Bake-Offs” or recipe contest events with cash prizes to encourage home cooking innovation. They also regularly produced television advertisements and sponsored cooking shows to promote their products. 

Modern-day brownies

Chocolate brownies retain a powerful hold on the American palate and imagination. Today, brownies can be found with a number of flavor variations and add-ons, such as peanut butter, mint, coffee, raspberry, white chocolate, almonds, raisins, candies, or caramel. In the United States, one is never far from an artisan or mass-produced brownie. Controversially, brownies have also been host to marijuana mix-ins in recent decades, and with the increasing legality of medical marijuana usage, they have become one means of therapeutic oral delivery of the drug.

Food industry product design has kept up with changing technology and lifestyles. Following health fads and dietary restrictions, whether high protein, low sugar, low fat, low carb, high fiber, raw, vegan, or gluten-free, brownies have more recently taken on a role as a diet food.

Some brownie recipes even call for beets, black beans, pureed carrots (for sweetness) and spinach  healthier ingredients into a dessert of chocolate, which also has health properties. . One divisive product recently launched on the market, Lazy Cakes, is a brownie that includes a large dose of melatonin to make consumers sleepy, a counterpart to the host of contentious energy drinks currently available.

Catering Chef Roberta Deen adds this tip for brownies which are a combination of fudge and cake:  “I doubled the old Betty Crocker recipe and baked it in a 12” square pan. I changed out regular bittersweet chocolate for Mexican chocolate and used almonds and Kalua for the Mexican version. This was after many changes through the years.  Actually the first thing I cooked on my own was brownies from Good Housekeeping paperback book.

“When I was the chef at Along Came Mary, Inc,  I found the Parrish (products) removable bottom square pans and Maida Heatter started the thing of lining pan with foil. Worked like a dream. I liked the fudgy thickness and they give 72 1×2″ cuts per pan. And I started to add chocolate chips too.It helps with not sticking, makes easy to cut without having to peel off bits of waxed or parchment paper and you can use the pan again right away because it is clean.

My mom was Czech and a passionate cook who attended French cooking school in Europe.  She made extraordinary pastries and 10” tall coffee cakes; my grandmother made tissue-paper think strudel. But we did not eat brownies at home (though loved pizza made from a boxed mix (!) when my dad was out of town on business.)  However, long after my mom passed away, my dad married a smart, witty and doting “American” pianist.  She was not so passionate about cooking, easy to believe, and my dad took over behind the stove.  However, she made the absolutely best brownies! It turned out her secret was Betty Crocker mix, to which she added sour cream!

The most reliable way I’ve found to present perfect brownies and satisfy the chocolate craving to date, however, is Scrumptious Brownies. For more information, please see: www.scrumptiousbrownies.com, 14408 Whittier blvd, B-7 CA, 90605.


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