1950’s Toasted Coconut Brownies (HFF #2)

My second entry for the Historical Food Fortnightly — cutting it close but sliding in right under the wire again.

The second prompt is “Culinary Vices “Some foods are really, really naughty. Globs of butter, lashings of sugar and syrup, decadent chocolate and wine. Bring out your naughty, indecorous side with foods associated with all the bad things, in the best ways.

Enlisting the help of my brother and my sister, we spent an hour or so perusing my cookbooks last weekend and came up with several recipes that would fulfill the prompt. But I couldn’t cook them all so I decided to go with:


Toasted Coconut Brownies

3/4 cup sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup butter or other shortening

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, well beaten

1 1/3 cups (about) flaked coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons butter, melted

Measure sifted flour, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Melt shortening and chocolate over hot water. Add 1 cup sugar gradually to eggs, beating thoroughly. Add chocolate mixture and blend. Add flour and mix well; then add half of the coconut and the vanilla. Spread in greased 8x8x2-inch pan. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the melted butter. Add remaining coconut and mix well. Spread over batter in pan. Bake in moderate oven (350°F.) for 25 minutes, or until done. Cool in pan; then cut into squares of rectangles. Makes about 20 brownies.


The recipe comes from “The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook” which was published in 1959. I love this cookbook; it has some really great recipes in it as well as some wonderful illustrations.


I followed the recipe as closely as I could, making only one modification to the ingredients. Instead of 2 squares of unsweetened chocolate, I substituted it with 6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa + 2 Tbsp olive oil, per the instructions on the container.

Ready to bake!


Another time adjustment with this one. I checked the brownies after the recommended 25 minutes and they weren’t done. I ended up leaving them for 18 mire minutes and they turned out perfect.


The brownies were super yummy – definitely a hit! Rich, chocolaty, and indulgent. Worthy of the prompt.The toasted coconut on the top made for a truly wonderful twist on the traditional taste. I will certainly be making it again in the future!

The Challenge: Culinary Vices
The Recipe: Toasted Coconut Brownies from “The General Foods Kitchens Cookbook”
The Date/Year and Region: 1959, American
How Did You Make It: Mix dry ingredients. Beat sugar into eggs. Mix together with dry & chocolate. Add coconut. Put into pan. Melt butter, stir in sugar and coconut. Sprinkle over the top and bake!
Time to Complete: 1/2 hour for mixing; 43 minutes for baking
Total Cost: Pretty much $0. All basic ingredients that I already had in the cupboard.
How Successful Was It?: Super!
How Accurate Is It?: Probably 90%. One ingredient modification but cocoa powder has been around since 1828 so it’s plausibly period-correct. I did use the microwave to melt the butter (and would have used it to melt the chocolate squares). I did use a modern oven but it’s not too different from a 50’s one.


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