Retro Classic Brownies

Retro Classic Brownies

Vintage Inspiration: “The Best” Brownies from “Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook"

The vintage inspiration for these Classic Brownies came from a 1979 “Hershey’s Cocoa Cookbook“. Everyone loves brownies, but how do you like yours…thick, thin, fudgy, cakey, plain or frosted with chocolate? These brownies have a dense, chewy center loaded with chocolate flavor using both cocoa powder and melted chocolate.

Retro recipe baked modern:

  • Used a combination of both butter and oil
  • Added melted chocolate in addition to just using cocoa

Baker’s Tips


Chocolate is available ranging from dark to light, due to the amount of chocolate liquor (cocoa solids and cocoa butter from the cocoa bean) it contains. The darkest chocolate is unsweetened at 100% cocoa; bittersweet at 70% cocoa; semi-sweet at 60% cocoa; and milk chocolate with a variable 10-40% cocoa.

Cocoa powder is 100% cacao without any added sugar. There are two types of cocoa powder: natural and dutch-process. Natural cocoa is lighter in color and acidic, whereas dutch-process is darker in color because it has been processed to neutralize the acid, and has a milder flavor.

Butter for flavor, oil for texture:

Use mostly butter to provide flavor along with some oil to ensure a tender, chewy crumb. Remember when baking, to always use a mild oil such as canola or ‘extra light’ extra virgin olive oil so that it doesn’t overpower the taste.

Use proper baking pans:

Use light-colored aluminum baking pans to distribute and reflect even heat during the baking. Dark pans conduct more heat off the surface, which may burn edges before the center is fully cooked. I use vintage aluminum cake pans or Nordic Ware or  Fat Daddio’s baking pans. Depending on the thickness of how you like your brownies, there are several options: a 9×9 or 8×8 square pan will yield a thicker cake-like brownie, while a 9×13 or quarter-sheet pan will yield a thinner, fudgy brownie. Be sure to always prep baking pans first with with cooking spray. Place down parchment that hangs over the sides to easily remove the brownies from the pan.

Keep decorating simple:

To keep these retro brownies classic, dust with powdered sugar. You can make them extra rich by adding an easy chocolate ganache frosting. Simply place 1 c. heavy cream, 1 T. butter and 4 oz. bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (or combination of both) into a double broiler. Once it has melted, remove from stove and add the remaining 4 oz. of chocolate until incorporated. Frost brownies after they have cooled. 


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