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Recipe Fri Feb 14 2014
I've loved brownies since I was a kid, even before I knew they were invented in Chicago.
In 1893, my beloved brownie was created in the kitchen of Chicago's Palmer House (now the Palmer House Hilton) as a new dessert to serve at the World's Columbian Exposition; it was cake-like, but smaller for portability. The original brownie recipe used crushed walnuts and an apricot glaze; the Palmer House Hilton still makes brownies according to this original recipe.
Nothing against crushed walnuts or apricot glaze, but I like the challenge of incorporating more unconventional ingredients in my brownie creations. For this challenge, I selected Garrett Popcorn's The Chicago Mix, which combines sweet Caramel Crisp with savory Cheese Corn. (A trick I learned from a former Garrett Popcorn employee on how to eat the irresistible Cheese Corn without turning your fingers orange: use chopsticks!)
Garrett Popcorn, launched in Chicago in 1949, became popular by handcrafting small batches of popcorn in old-fashioned copper kettles based on a secret family recipe. The now-famous Chicago Mix was created by Garrett's after watching people buy separate bags of cheese and caramel corn, then awkwardly trying to combine them.
After my own trial-and-error in combining Chicago Mix with brownies, I ended up with a brownie cookie which had the right amount of moisture content to not overwhelm the popcorn. This Chicago Mix Brownie Cookie is crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside.
Great straight from the oven, the rich chocolate of the brownie is bold and decadent. And I found that the cheese and caramel popcorn flavors actually got stronger as the chocolate brownie base cooled.
Chicago Mix Brownie Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups Garrett Popcorn The Chicago Mix flavor
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate chips on high for about two minutes. Stir with a spatula to facilitate the melting process. Continue heating in microwave in additional 30-second intervals, and stirring after each interval. Be careful not to burn the chocolate. Stirring after each interval will ensure the chocolate melts evenly and the chocolate will continue to melt while you are stirring. Stir until completely melted; set aside and let cool.
In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl (or mixing bowl of a stand mixer), beat together butter and brown sugar (about two minutes on medium speed). Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined.
With mixer on low speed, alternately beat in chocolate and flour mixtures. Mix just until combined. Fold in the Chicago Mix popcorn. The dough will be very thick and the popcorn will begin to breakdown in the batter.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, two inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for two minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.