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Wartime brownies an ode to a simpler time

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Wartime
Brownies

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening (or a mixture)

1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar

2 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted

2 large eggs

2/3 cup unsifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

Beat together syrup, lard or shortening (or combination), brown sugar and chocolate until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time.

Add flour, baking powder and salt. Beat just until smooth. Fold in vanilla and nuts.

Spread batter into greased pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cut into 16 squares while still warm. Cool to room temperature and serve.

Recipe adapted from “Sugarless Brownies” from Grandma’s Wartime Kitchen by Joanne Lamb Hayes, St. Martin’s Press, 2000.

Updated: June 30, 2013 6:10AM



It seemed a simpler time to many, even though their hearts were overseas.

On the homefront during the war, rationing made life modest, without the troubles of vanity and commercialism.

After all, there were certainly more serious worries available.

But for those that look back at life during wartime, rationing in the kitchen is a somewhat fond bit of retro nostalgia. For all of those lard-based pies and cakes coming from mom’s kitchen, corn syrup confections, and pickled and canned preserves, there comes a yearning for those days of scrimping. They weren’t so tough.

In fact, those ingenuous recipes satisfied and gave patriotic Americans a new reason to take pride in their support of the soldiers fighting overseas.

Forget the food fads, the trendy ingredients and exotic hybrids for just one meal. Instead, go back to that simpler time when reassessing recipes was more than just some healthy food fad; it was a necessity, an exciting novelty.

This recipe for brownies combines two of the most potent rationing ingredients: lard and corn syrup. Although they are butter and granulated sugar-free, this dessert doesn’t taste like it is lacking in flavor. It is simply different. For many that remember these wartime recipes, items made with lard or corn syrup often tasted better. Perhaps it’s the truth, or perhaps it’s the nostalgia. The greatest difference from a lard-based pastry and a butter-based pastry sits with the texture. Lard gets flakier, less fluffy, and makes an interesting substitution in pastries, cookies and cakes.

Unsweetened melted chocolate flavors these brownies, giving them that definitive old-fashioned taste. These snacks aren’t overly sweet and get nice and flaky as they sit on a cake stand on the kitchen counter. An after-school snack? Maybe. A tip of the hat to the memory of a simpler time? Even more likely. While this treat might fill both of those concepts, wartime brownies are also a salute to the heroic rationing of the Greatest Generation.



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