Did we name fudgy brownies after a goblin that cleans your house while you sleep? For those who don’t know or need a refresher, we’ll start with the Scottish folklore, touch on the history of the brownie, and give a quick salute to the Girl Guide Brownies along the way. Of course we’ll show you where to find freshly baked chocolate brownies near you as well.
According to the UK and Irish legends, brownies come out during the night and clean your house. Descriptions of the house spirits vary regionally, but they are typically classed as ugly, brown, and hairy. Capable of invisibility and assuming the form of animals, humans should leave an offering by the hearth and try very hard not to offend them otherwise they’ll stop doing your chores and disappear without a trace.
Many believe that the helpful brownies bring prosperity, so people must be careful with what they offer to them. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave a bowl of cream or oatmeal, or better yet, a small cake. Might we suggest one of these brownies? Whatever you do though, don’t offer them clothes. They detest that and can act out with malicious behaviour.
Brownies grew in popularity in Canada during the late 19th century thanks to the Canadian illustrator and author Palmer Cox. He gave life to the Scottish stories told to him by his grandmother at the same time when the edible square and rectangular brownies were just starting to gain momentum in North America. So this dessert legend goes, in 1893 a pastry chef was asked to make a special, smaller than normal cake to fit in the boxed lunches of the Chicago World’s Fair. The result was a (non-chocolate) brownie with walnuts and apricot glaze.
Slowly, recipes for brownies began to appear in various cookbooks, though none of which included chocolate. In all honesty, cookbooks should have been referring to them as blondies at this stage. It wasn’t until 1907 that we first saw an example of the fudgy chocolate brownies we’re more familiar with today. It was an adaptation of a Boston Cooking School recipe, a Bangor brownie, which included chocolate and an extra egg.
But what about the little goblins? Does their name have anything to do with the popular lunchbox treat? Sadly, we couldn’t find any link between the two. We did however learn that the lowest age group in the Girl Guides, the Brownies, are actually named after the legendary house spirits! Instead of a Palmer Cox tale though, their name comes from Juliana Horatia Ewing, an early children’s writer.
So next time you hear a bump in the night, you might consider leaving an offering for the temperamental brownie folding your clothes… we know where to get the ooey-gooey, fudgy chocolate brownies.