You asked for it.
I was all excited to try out one of great grandma’s brownie recipes, despite the fact that the ingredients included “strained prunes” and “syrup”. What syrup? Need a little help here, grams. And the name “jumble brownies”? Where does “jumble” come in? The whole thing just seemed really odd from the start. Anyway, I made the brownies exactly like the perfect penmanship on the faded index card told me and while they didn’t turn out BAD, they were just different.
Very different. And kinda weird.
Okay, I don’t want to completely deter you from trying this depression era brownie recipe. But look at the color. To me, it looks more spice cake-ish. And to be fair, there’s really not much cocoa in the recipe. I’m thinking this was a very special old recipe made during times when ingredients like cocoa and sugar were limited.
But I love how she improvised! She knew she could add prunes and syrup for moisture and sweetness, and the flaked coconut and chopped walnuts made it special and worthy of company.
It’s funny because as I start to throw myself head first into this challenge, I feel like I actually am getting to know my great grandma. She passed away when I was three, but as I work through her recipe box I feel like I can get a very clear image of who this woman was and what she was about. I feel like I can almost see her pantry, most likely lined with floral wallpaper and canned goods, and see her sitting by the stove copying down recipes onto three by five cards after putting the kids to sleep at night. Ironically, I just received news that her son, my great uncle, passed away just last week and I can’t really describe the feeling I had when my mom called and told me. I feel almost like a lost a friend…or just finished the last page of a really great novel. I wonder how many times my great grandma baked these brownies when he was a little boy. Were these his favorite treat?
As for the taste, they don’t really taste like what we would expect “brownies” to taste like.
Instead, they have a cake-like texture and a taste I can’t really pinpoint—from the prunes? Like I said, they don’t taste bad, but don’t be expecting these. Personally, I think they could use a whopping blanket of chocolate buttercream or ganache on top. I think my spoiled 21st century taste buds are used to something a little more sweet and rich. Also, if you do decide to take a stab at these, buy the prunes that look like this at the store–not the dry ones in the package.
Go ahead and try ’em! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. They certainly are fiber-licious.
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup shortening
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz strained prunes, pureed in the blender until smooth
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Add the shortening, eggs, syrup, vanilla and prunes and beat until smooth and combined. Fold in coconut and nuts.
Smooth batter into a greased 112 x 9 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until edges pull away from sides.
Let cool completely before slicing into bars.