Moosewood Brownies | foodloveswriting.com

About a week ago, Tim and I made a quick stop at McKay’s, which, for the record, is the largest, cleanest used bookstore I’ve ever been to in my life. Set high up off Old Hickory Boulevard on Nashville’s west side, McKay’s exterior looks more like a bulk warehouse shopping center than a place that makes it easy for anyone to walk in and buy or sell old books any day of the week. You park your car in an eco-friendly brick parking lot and walk inside to a bright, high-ceilinged space filled with aisles and aisles of books, books on tape, CDs and DVDs. The inventory’s always changing, so even if you’ve just been in a week before, you still never know what you’ll find when you come. In December, I bought a Mexican cookbook that later had me Googling for information about its illustrator, a woman who loved beautiful buildings and architecture as much as I do. Last Monday, we came looking for a children’s book; we left instead with a hardcover Tim had been wanting and a $2 original copy of The Moosewood Cookbook, published in 1977, for me.

I’ll guess most of you are already familiar with Moosewood, the Ithaca, New York restaurant for which the cookbook is named, as well as Mollie Katzen, the author of the cookbook, who in the food world is something of a celebrity? Mollie is listed by the New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time, is in the James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, today serves as a consultant to Harvard University Dining Services, and, in 1977, was already eating the way most people I know now consider revolutionary. The cookbook is filled with vegetable-focused meals (“hippie-style” or “mimi’s elegant” stuffed eggplant, spinach ricotta pie, cauliflower curry, zucchini-crusted pizza) and desserts that are many times sweetened with honey or maple syrup instead of sugar (apple krisp, fruited yogurt desserts, no-fault pumpkin pie, apricot almond bread, baked maple custards).

What I love most about The Moosewood Cookbook is the style, totally handmade from beginning to end. Instead of photographs, the book’s 227 pages showcase Mollie’s own hand-drawn illustrations and writing. The entire book, she compiled, edited, illustrated and hand-lettered herself; so flipping through sections feels like flipping through a cook’s private sketchpad.

The day after I bought the book, I propped it open to page 192, for Moosewood Fudge Brownies, and set to work. You may remember my mentioning that we’ve had some bad run-ins with brownie recipes recently (too cakey, too dry, not sweet enough, ho-hum), and I figured if anyone could steer me to a better option, it would be the woman who was making it cool to eat a produce-focused diet before the existence of Food, Inc. or Whole Foods.

And while there’s a lot more I could say about the below six-ingredient, super-simple brownie recipe and the dessert it produces–how start-to-finish the process took less than an hour, how finally (!) now I have a brownie recipe that works, how Moosewood might now be in my top five favorite cookbooks of all time—I’ll do you a favor and cut to the chase and say this: When I thought I could trust Mollie? I was right.

(QUICK ANNOUNCEMENT PS: On the subject of illustrations, we’ve just launched an Etsy shop, where we’re selling a limited selection of watercolor notecards featuring a Laura Ingalls Wilder quote. Please check it out—Etsy.com/shop/FoodLovesWritingShop.)

Moosewood Brownies
Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook, which is now out of print and therefore a little pricey unless you happen upon a treasure in a used bookstore; there is also The New Moosewood Cookbook, however, which is similar but updated.

Ingredients:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter (FULLY SOFTENED, but not melted)
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate (not semisweet)
1 3/4 cups coconut sugar
5 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup einkorn flour (or whatever all-purpose flour you prefer)
Optional additions (per Mollie): chopped nuts, 1 tablespoon instant coffee, 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange/lemon rind, 1/2 teaspoon allspice or cinnamon or a mashed overripe banana

Directions:
Once the butter is fully softened to room temperature, preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9X13″ baking pan. Melt the five ounces of chocolate on a double boiler on the stove. Set aside to let cool.

Cream the butter and sugar together and add the five eggs. Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Add the melted chocolate and the one cup of einkorn flour to this mixture and beat together. Add any extras you’d like (see ideas in ingredients list). Spread mixture into a greased 9X13″ pan.

Bake 20-30 minutes at 350F.

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 58 Comments

  1. Sophia

    I love the simplicity of this recipe – although I have a go-to brownie recipe (I use wholemeal spelt and a light olive oil and count on Valrhona cocoa powder for maximum chocolatey goodness) I might give this one a try – not least because I just brought back a 500g bag of Einkorn flour from a trip home to Germany this weekend.

  2. Kathryn

    I am always on the lookout for new brownie recipes – most have you melting the butter and chocolate together so I’m intrigued to try this one with the creaming of the butter and sugar and seeing what difference that makes.

    PS the notecards are simply beautiful.

  3. Jacqui

    I love your love for old cookbooks! I’ve never heard of Moosewood or Mollie Katzen, but now you’ve got me interested. And those notecards … Shanna! So beautiful! I’m buying a multipack for my desk. :)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      I find her completely fascinating… maybe I’m making up for a lack of hippie influence in my childhood or maybe I’m intrigued by people making current trendy choices 35 years ago, I don’t know. All I know is I admire her — and if you find a Moosewood cookbook, grab it!

  4. Elizabeth

    I love the Moosewood Cookbook. I had a 70s copy from when my Dad attended Cornell. Then USPS lost all of my cookbooks when I tried to ship them to Chicago. It was heartbreaking to lose something my Dad had had for 40 years. I’ll be on a mission to find a copy in a used bookstore like you…

  5. Liz

    I traveled on a Greyhound for 12 hours from DC just to visit Moosewood (after flying from the West Coast!) it was totally worth it. I love those books and the restaurant food was just as delicious and comforting as you’d expect!

  6. Megan

    This cookbook sounds wonderful, I am going to search for a copy myself! Congrats on the Etsy shop, your illustrations are just lovely. I am torn between the blueberries and the artichoke :)

  7. Joanna

    Can you believe I’ve never heard of Moosewood though I have heard of Mollie Katzen? RIDICULOUS. Obviously, I need to make these brownies to acquaint myself with her.

    I love the notecards! You are so talented in so many ways. A true creator of beauty.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      You’re a step ahead of me! I picked up the cookbook purely because of its recipes and pictures.. I found out what a well-known establishment Moosewood was later. Clearly neither of us have enough hippie in us (even though we have so much hippie in us if you look at our lifestyles, ha)!

  8. sarah kate branine

    The Moosewood cookbook sounds absolutely wonderful! I couldn’t help but wonder if you made it to Powell’s Books when you were here? This post reminded me of it– it is one of Steve’s and my very favorite places to go for a date. It is an entire city block of new and used books : ) You guys would love it.

    ps. I love your shop!

  9. Sarah

    My mom has the Moosewood cookbook. I went home this weekend and we baked two things from it. We made the apple cheese pancakes for breakfast. They have ricotta cheese and whipped egg whites in them. Super yummy. We also made the spinach rice casserole. It is so delicious!

  10. Christine

    I LOVE McKay’s; I found a Chez Panisse cookbook there for around $4 a few years ago… When we moved to TN, that big shiny used bookstore was a kind of saving grace for me. And it has definitely been so helpful keeping our homeschooling running smoothly. Anyway, these brownies look amazing; can’t wait to try them!

  11. Julie

    The brownie illustration is fitting for a moose wood cookbook recipe. It reminds me a little of the blank and white line drawing illustrations Molly did for her cookbook. I have the original and it is held together by rubberbands! My favorite recipe is her Ukranian poppyseed cake.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Julie! Thank you! That was sort of what I was thinking with this post — no pictures, as an homage to the illustrated Moosewood. I love that you said that and I love that you have an original tied up with rubberbands.

  12. Jolynn

    So I’ve heard of Moosewood (my mom picked up a 1977 copy for me at a yard sale … what would I do without her supplying me with all her great finds?!) but not coconut sugar. Eyes opened. I’ll have to look for it and give it a try … does it have a coconut flavor?

  13. judith

    My father-in-law sent me the original Moosewood Cookbook over 30 years ago. The first recipe I made was Brownies. An instant favorite of family and friends, made exactly as in the cookbook. I often embellish them with chocolate ganash and/or raspberry coulis. The cookbook is full of hand written dates, memories, guest names, and drawings. A real journal of life in my kitchen. Glad a new generation of cooks is enjoying this treasure.

  14. Jenni

    It’s out of print??? What kind of world do we live in? I have a copy that I’ll treasure now even more. Thanks for this lovely story. And going to check out your Etsy shop right now.

  15. Bethany

    Alright…I need this cookbook. Wishing I could have a vintage one, but Amazon will have to do. And I just told my husband the other night that I would be eating brownies on Sunday evening – so perfect that I have a new recipe. Also, I have made that chicken pot pie recipe three times in the last two weeks. I fall in love with the crust more with each taste – thanks for such a easy and good pie!
    Looking forward to tomorrow morning ;)

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Did you just buy the new one!? If you did, you have to tell me what you think when you get it. And while you won’t have the old one to compare it to, I’d love to know if it says anything about how it’s been updated or different from the original.

      Also, Bethany! We had the chicken pot pie tonight! I was eating my second helping on the sofa when I read your comment! And I totally agree about that crust. A stick of butter in a dough is a beautiful thing, haha. : )

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  17. Anna

    Thank you for the Moosewood reminder! Moosewood is one of my mum’s most used cookbooks and thinking about it takes me right back to her kitchen! It’s such a treasure. Even as a child I loved flicking through the thick pages and looking at Katzen’s delightful illustrations. I second the vote for the Ukrainian poppy seed cake. It is exceptional – the only poppy seed cake recipe I’ll ever use. Xo

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Dana! Would you believe that when I went back to McKay’s a week later, I found The Enchanted Broccoli Forest? The only thing was, it was the revised version… and now I’m spoiled on the originals. Still on the lookout though!

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