Next time you visit Chicago, stroll through the lobby of The Palmer House Hilton. It’s one of my favorite places in the city, with so much history. A while back I wrote about my great grandmother having spent some time there, so whenever I’m in the hotel I always think of her. And brownies. The Palmer House Brownies are legend.
Since I first posted this, several copycat Palmer House Brownies recipes have surfaced and you can find them with a quick Google search. I originally found the recipe in Bon Appetit and made my own changes to it. Update: There’s now one on the hotel’s website which I’ve yet to try. It calls for 8 eggs and is baked in a 9×12 inch pan, so should be interesting. This version is for an 8 oz pan, uses “only” 9 oz of chocolate and just 2 eggs.
Type of Chocolate in Palmer House Brownies
As you can guess from the 9 oz of chocolate and half pound of butter, the brownies are intensely fudgy. My first batch was a little too sweet because I used 9 oz semisweet chocolate instead of bittersweet. I went back and made the brownies with 7 1/2 oz of 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate and 1 1/2 oz of unsweetened and they were much better. If you don’t have that combo, you could also try 9 oz of a 72 %.
Definitely Use Nuts
This recipe is meant to be topped with a whole lot of nuts. Just sprinkling the nuts on lightly won’t do the trick. You need a thick layer of nuts to counteract the sweetness from the jam and the brownies themselves.
Crust on Top and Bottom of Brownies
Along with the being dense and fudgy, the brownies have kind of a crust on top and bottom. That might be due to beating the eggs with a mixer rather than gingerly whisking them into the batter, but in any case I like the crust!
Palmer House Brownies
(AKA Palmer House Brownies)
1 cup (114 grams) cake flour
1 teaspoon (5 ml) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
7 1/2 ounces (210 grams) 60% bittersweet chocolate, chopped**
1 1/2 oz (42 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
8 oz (230 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 6 tablespoons (270 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) vanilla extract
1-2 cups (90-180 grams) whole toasted pecans or walnuts (see note)
2-3 tablespoons apricot preserves (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8 inch square metal pan with non-stick foil or line with foil and spray foil with cooking spray.
Stir together cake flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
Melt butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Add chocolate. Reduce heat to low and stir until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Beat eggs and sugar together for about 40 seconds in a mixing bowl using high speed of an electric mixer. Stir or whisk in the melted chocolate and vanilla. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate batter and gently fold it in. Pour batter into prepared pan. Drop the pan from about 5 inches off the counter to release air bubbles.
Chop the nuts and sprinkle them over the brownies.
Bake brownies for 40-45 minutes or until edges are raised and have begun to pull away from pan.
Microwave apricot preserves for 20 seconds and strain out any chunks (I didn’t strain). Brush as much as you like over nuts. Cool at room temperature for an hour then transfer to refrigerator to chill. Lift from pan and cut into 16 squares.
**Original recipe used 9 oz of bittersweet chocolate and no unsweetened. If you use bittersweet, use 70% or above or the brownies might be too sweet
Note about nuts: I used 1 cup of nuts. Louise made these with 2 cups of nuts and said the extra nuts, which were in the original recipe, really helped cut the sweetness of the brownie. So this brownie is probably better with the 2 cups of nuts.
I made these over the weekend. Wow, were they good!
So I made these brownies today – yum! They really are delicious. I halved the recipe and used toasted walnuts. I did have one faux pas. I used a white glass casserole 8×8 baking dish, no parchment paper or foil at 40 minutes, and the bottomes burned a little. They have a nice crunch to them, but it seems to me these are supposed to be fudgey. Excellent recipe nonetheless!
I’m glad you tried the Palmer House rather than just go with Ina’s recipe. I needed a second opinion. I made the Palmer House twice and both times found them to be good, but VERY fudgy. I’m glad you added the extra nuts too — they seem to be critical to the recipe so we can note that they cut the sweetness. It’s just a lot of nuts.
I found I made modified Ina’s Outrageous Brownies just a couple weeks ago in the form of Oreo Brownies, so Palmer House Brownies were chosen after all. Plus, the ingredients were already on the kitchen counter. I used 2 4-oz. bars of Nestle’s 62% bittersweet and 1 oz. Scharffen Berger 99%. I used 2 cups of untoasted walnuts as per the original recipe. Definitely very fudgy brownies. I think the extra cup of walnuts is a good thing as it cuts the overall sweetness. I just had another one, after breakfast :-), and I can see why they’ve been popular for over a hundred years. The apricot glaze reminds me of Sacher Torte.
You people are killing me. A short time ago I was already to bake these. I have everything out and for whatever reason I decided to look at the comments again. Now I see Anna thinks she prefers Ina’s Outrageous Brownies. I’ve never made those either, but BakingBlonde gave them a 9 so the collective vote goes to Ina. 😉
I find the apricot preserves interesting. I bet the flavor is subtle but yet enhances the chocolate and nut flavor. YUM
those look soo good!!
These are fudgier than Ina’s. Honestly, I think I prefer Ina’s.
Those look amazing, Anna! My all-time favorite brownie recipe is Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies with walnuts, but I might have to give these a try! Are they as fudgy-wudgy as they look? Thanks for the post!
Baking and Mistaking
I’m always looking for a more interesting brownie, because (don’t tell anyone!) brownies kind of bore me. 🙂
These look like fudge brownies with a nut topping. 🙂
The look YUM-MEEE! Love the nuts.
Yum, Anna! These brownies look totally fudgy and fabulous. I’m sorry I have yet to respond to yours and Katrina’s emails. I’m so excited to be on the receiving end–I loved the cookies you all came up with using the hard boiled egg, so it feels super special to be getting emails from you guys. I’ve been in class ALL day, and am actually in class now (but it’s super boring). I can’t wait to write back when I get home!
You could have used an old photo and we probably wouldn’t have known. 😉
LOL, still laughing over the slap your grandma rich comment….I wish it were that easy! Thanks, these sound really good.
“slap-your-grandma”? I haven’t heard that one.
Way to use alternates and create a yummy brownies, well, you are the pro at that!
rich chocolate brownies . what could I wish more 🙂
Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer
WOW decedent and rich!! Incredible !!
“… these are slap-your-grandma rich.”
Too. freaking. funny.