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Touring Wisconsin Food

Will This Chocolate Brownie Recipe Win The 4-H Club Competition At The County Fair?

‘Brownies’ is one of the food categories in which 10-year-olds can compete in the 4-H Club competitions at the county fair. Tuesday, when my own 10-year-old saw this, she tapped the 4-H Club booklet and said, “I’ll make BROWNIES!..I’ll use the chocolate brownie recipe you used for those brownies you brought to our class party. Those brownies disappeared first from the treats table and people asked me for the recipe. So I know those chocolate brownies are sure to win at the fair!”

What confidence, I thought. My daughter likes to win. And I’m glad she liked the brownies, but to be honest, those chocolate brownies were the very first I’d ever made that did not come from a box mix. So I wasn’t surprised that Lauren liked them better than our usual ones. But are these chocolate brownies actually good enough to win a 4-H Club prize at the county fair?

My uncertainty stems from the fact that I never got to eat one of the brownies. I made them right before I took them to the party. In a flash, they were gone. I never got the opportunity to form my own opinion about them. And it’s not like kids have discriminating tastes when it comes to desserts. So I’ll just have to make them again and see for myself what sort of competitive edge this chocolate brownie recipe may have over others. Keep reading for the recipe so you can form your own opinion.

I found this chocolate brownie recipe in the cookbook Apple Betty & Sloppy Joe: Stirring up the past with family recipes and stories. It’s a fun cookbook, packed with home-cooking recipes and spiced with humorous stories about a rural-Wisconsin family growing up in the 1950’s. The cookbook was written by the four Sanvidge sisters of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. And this particular chocolate brownie recipe was clipped from the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern decades ago by the sisters’ mom.

Susan Sanvidge introduces the recipe with:

“These are excellent brownies, much better than the package mixes and not at all difficult to make. This is a very fudgy brownie. For a chewier version see instructions below. You will be asked for the recipe…(and) You will be in trouble if you make only one pan of these and you intend to give it away to a church bazaar like Mom did. These brownies freeze very well.”

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 4 squares unsweetened chocolate (or 9 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder for Chewy Brownies below)
  • 1 cup flour
  • nuts for topping (whole, or almost whole, walnuts or pecans; chopped pecans for Mom’s chewy brownies)

“Preheat oven to 325 degrees and butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch pan. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs lightly and then beat in sugar and vanilla. In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When almost melted, add unsweetened chocolate. Stir. Pull off heat as soon as chocolate is melted Pour into egg/sugar/vanilla mixture, beating as you pour (so you don’t “cook” the eggs). Add flour and mix well. Pour into baking pan. Sprinkle with whole or almost whole walnuts or pecans. Bake for exactly 43 minutes. If you know your oven is accurate, just pull them out. It’s always okay at 43 minutes. If refrigerated, they will be even fudgier.

“For chewy brownies – the way Mom usually makes them:

“Follow the recipe above but substitute 9 level tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder for the 4 squares of unsweetened baking chocolate. Melt the butter as noted above and mix it into the egg/sugar/vanilla mixture, followed by the cocoa powder, and then the flour. The batter will be thick –you will have to spread it in the pan. Baking time will be the same. Mom sprinkles 1/2 cup chopped pecans on her chewy brownies before baking.”

I made the chewy brownies. I figured that if the Sanvidge’s mom liked that version best that I would too. Susan Sanvidge was right; this chocolate brownie recipe was fast and easy to make. I think what made these brownies so exceptionally tasty was the quality of the ingredients. I used real, Wisconsin butter, fresh eggs, and good-quality dark-chocolate cocoa powder. I have trouble trusting my oven, but I obeyed the recipe and removed the brownies exactly after 43 minutes of baking. Perfect timing.

I’ll likely mess around trying out other brownie recipes before the 4-H Club county fair competition. If you think you’ve got a winning recipe, leave a link. I’d love to try your recipe too.



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  2. Don’t worry, Cristie. I’ll test them for you 🙂
    BTW – the ONLY way to eat brownies is when they’re frozen!

  3. Hi Melodee, Yes, these brownies definitely appeal to the chocoholics among us – of which I believe you are one. I’ve only eaten Snickers bars frozen, never brownies. Never had so many brownies that I thought to freeze some; they always disappear so fast. Will have to try sneaking some into the freezer and check it out. Thanks for pausing to comment. I hope all is well with you. Cheers.

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