Brownie Recipe from 1948

You never know when or from where an old recipe will turn up once you start looking. Simply take an interest and beguile unopened cookbooks into use and consideration instead of mere kitchen decoration. That’s what happened when my brother-in-law mentioned this very blog to a neighbor in his building, who then insisted that he take a 1948 recipe book which she was using as a fanciful adornment on a spice rack. Perhaps we all know that it’s a bit of a sin to let the concoctions within such a tome to remain unfamiliar to the eyes and hands of a curious cook or baker.

A Brownie Recipe from 1948?

As it happened, this book, entitled, “The American Woman’s Cook Book,” found its way to me while I was working on posting my own brownie recipe, and couldn’t resist making the brownies from this old book and comparing the results, particularly given that the recipe piqued my interest by utilizing both honey and corn syrup, with syrup spelled as “sirup.” It’s uncommon to see the word spelled this way in the United States, and the etymology (for both spellings) reaches back to the 14th-century French word sirop, for, “sugared drink.” 

The American Woman’s Cook Book

The recipe was a bit disappointing to my taste, as they were thin and cake-like. You could certainly taste the honey, but there was a lack of a sweet, chocolate expression that my palate has come to expect, which was not unexpected given the ingredients. The recipe also stated you could get 32 brownies out of an 8 x 8 pan.  One-inch brownies? I cut them into 2” brownies which I feel is just right. 
Not saying I would make these again, but it was good to see the difference from yesteryear to today. 

Brownies, page 493; The American Woman’s Cook Book, 1948

1948 Brownie Mise en place
Chocolate mixed in
Mixing in the chocolate
Ready for the oven
Ready for the oven


1/2 cup sifted cake flour
Dash salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons strained honey
2 tablespoons corn sirup
1 egg, beaten
1 ounce (square) chocolate, melted
1 tablespoon hot water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pecans, chopped


Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Cream shortening with sugar until fluffy. Add honey and sirup and continue creaming. Add egg and mix well. Add melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients, hot water and vanilla and blend well. Mix in pecans and spread mixture in 1 (8-inch) pan. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F.) about 20 minutes. Makes 36.

Happy Baking!

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