Today is launch day for All Stirred Up: Suffrage Cookbooks, Food, and the Battle for Women’s Right to Vote. Come celebrate with this scrumptious dessert from the book – Old Fashioned Chocolate Walnut Brownies.
I’ll bet you didn’t know about suffrage cookbooks. I didn’t either, until I found one and became fascinated by the story of how suffragists used cookbooks and food to win the vote. These were not the suffragists you may have read about in history books or in more recent celebrations of the women’s suffrage constitutional amendment. They were not the women who picketed and went on hunger strikes to advocate for their rights. No. These women were not interested in gaining notoriety for their cause. Instead, they went door-to-door peddling suffrage with cookbooks under their arms. I call them the “forgotten suffragists.”
History doesn’t give them enough credit. In All Stirred Up, you’ll find out all about them and how they won the right to vote.
These suffragists figured out that food wasn’t just the key to a man’s heart, it was the key to winning the right to vote. They sold suffrage to people who hesitated to open the door, but who couldn’t resist treats like these delicious old fashioned chocolate walnut brownies. In All Stirred Up, you’ll find out how they fought and won, using food as a tactic to persuade the nation. Then let’s celebrate the hundredth anniversary of victory with food made from suffrage cookbook recipes. Enjoy reading the original recipes and cooking from adapted versions I’ve created for modern tastes and your convenience.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the forgotten suffragists, watch this short video.You can find All Stirred Up though my new author site, LauraKumin.com. In the meantime, let’s celebrate their victory with this brownie recipe from the book. Like all the recipes in the book, it appears in the original, straight from the suffrage cookbooks, and in an adapted version.
Here’s the brownie recipe as the Washington Equal Suffrage Association published it in that organization’s 1909 suffrage cookbook:
One-half cup butter, one cup sugar, one-half cup flour, one-half cup nuts chopped, two squares chocolate, two eggs, one teaspoon vanilla. Spread thin in pans; bake in slow oven. Cut in strips when cool.
Mrs. Anna Hyde, Seattle
The adapted version is simple too, yielding a rich and slightly fudgy chocolate treat that reminds me of the brownies I had as a kid. The brown sugar (substituted for half of the granulated), vanilla, and salt are not in the original recipe, but are common in modern brownies.
Tips for Making Old Fashioned Chocolate Walnut Brownies
- Use parchment – Buttering the pan is good, but laying parchment over the greased pan makes it even easier to remove the brownies after they cool. If you leave about 2-inches of parchment on each side, those “handles” will make it easier to lift out the brownies after they are cool. remove them from the pan by flipping it over.
- Chop the chocolate. It’s tempting to try to melt unsweetened chocolate in the squares. But chopping the chocolate takes just a few minutes and the smaller pieces melt more quickly.
- Be gentle as you add the various components. Beating too vigorously will result in air bubbles. I’d give myself a passing grade on this test, but you can do even better if you take your time. Especially when adding the flour and afterwards the nuts, use a folding technique rather than a vigorous stir.
- Spread the brownie mixture evenly in the pan. The batter is rather stiff and will not move unless you even it out.
- Let the brownies cool before cutting them. Don’t give in to the temptation to cut the brownies while they are still warm. Take it from me, cool them down to room temperature before removing them from the pan. Then you can easily slice squares. Use a cleaver or other long, sharp knife for clean edges.
Old Fashioned Chocolate Walnut Brownies
A simple recipe for fudgy and nutty chocolate brownies.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 4 oz/115 g
- 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped 56.7 g
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar 3.75 oz/108 g
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed 3.5 oz/100g
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 2 oz/60 g
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup walnuts (or pecans), chopped 2 oz/60g
Butter an 8-inch square pan or spray it with cooking spray. Put a square of parchment or foil on the bottom. Preheat the oven to 350°/180° C.
Melt the butter and chopped chocolate together and stir until combined. Take the mixture off the heat and add the sugars, then the eggs one at a time, with the vanilla.
Whisk the flour and salt together, then add them and stir again until no flour is visible. Add the chopped nuts and scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake for about 25 minutes, just until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack, in the pan. Unmold, then cut the brownies into small squares.
And don’t forget – the best way to celebrate the suffrage victory is to vote.