Find some comfort in food and famous brownies, but safety first

  • The famous Palmer House Brownies are served with a shiny glaze of apricot preserves.

    The famous Palmer House Brownies are served with a shiny glaze of apricot preserves. Courtesy of the Palmer House

Updated 3/25/2020 2:08 PM

Last week I mentioned looking to food for a little comfort in these uncertain and stressful times. I know I've been cooking more, and I have been trying to match my pantry ingredients with favorite recipes for soup and other options. I've even pulled out a recipe for all-day homemade spaghetti sauce. The cooking has provided a little stress relief, and it might in your house as well.

What's not so comforting are worries about produce and other grocery store items. More than a few of us have wondered if fresh veggies are safe during the coronavirus outbreak.


According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19. Unlike foodborne gastrointestinal viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is a virus that causes respiratory illness. Foodborne exposure to this virus is not known to be a route of transmission.

That said, it's key to carefully wash fresh produce when you get it home, and use a scrub brush made for that propose. Then wash your hands.

A treat for the ages:

In light of the trying times, the folks at the Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel have shared a couple of recipes you might enjoy, including their famous brownies.

Palmer House, credited with the invention of the brownie, shares its recipe for those at home.

The first reference to the "brownie" in America appears in the Sears Roebuck Catalog published in Chicago in 1898, according to a Palmer House news release. The brownie is said to have been created in the Palmer House kitchen, specifically at the direction of Bertha Palmer to be served at the Columbian Exposition World's Fair in 1893. The recipe below is well over a century old, and is the exact same one used for the brownie served in the Palmer House Hilton today. It remains one of the hotel's most popular confections. Try it out for yourself while you're at home.

Taste of America Challenge:

While most Americans spend more time at home, chefs and home cooks around the country have the opportunity to compete at the 9th Annual World Food Championships in Dallas, Texas. WFC's most popular online recipe contest, the Taste of America Challenge, is back for the fifth year to qualify up to 250 contestants to compete at the main event this November.

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"We are happy to once again be hosting our nationwide recipe contest," said Mike McCloud, CEO and president of WFC. "We know that Food Champs from all over the country are looking for ways to win their way into our competition. In light of recent news, we know that not all cooks will be able to compete at one of our qualifiers. Taste of America offers the perfect solution by allowing WFC hopefuls a chance to win their 2020 Golden Ticket from the comfort of their home."

Cooks are tasked with creating recipes using some popular brands and products for a chance to win a coveted Golden Ticket into WFC 2020. More than $350,000 of cash and prizes are up for grabs. Check the website for qualifying ingredients.

In addition, TOA will offer a unique People's Choice component for an extra opportunity to win. This bonus contest allows the entries another shot at winning a 2020 Golden Ticket via Instagram. Contestants who choose to participate in the People's Choice have the chance to win extra Food Sport prizes, including two VIP Day passes to WFC 2020 or an exclusive foodie prize pack. This online qualifier is accepting recipe submissions through March 31. Visit the website to enter and learn more about the rules and regulations.

Follow the World Food Championships on Twitter @WorldFoodChamp, Facebook and Instagram @WorldFoodChampionships.

Contestants can submit their recipe on the WFC website and must include a photo, ingredient list and directions.


• Contact Food Editor Susan Stark at or (847) 427-4586. Be her friend on Stark DailyHerald or follow her on Twitter.

Palmer House Brownies

14 ounces semisweet chocolate

1 pound butter

12 ounces granulated sugar

4 ounces flour

8 eggs

12 ounces crushed walnuts

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Mix the sugar and flour together in a bowl. Combine chocolate and flour mixtures. Stir 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue mixing.

Pour mixture into a 9-by-13-inch baking sheet. Sprinkle walnuts on top, pressing down slightly into the mixture with your hand. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.

Brownies are done when the edges begin to crisp and have risen about inch.

Note: When the brownie is properly baked, it will remain "gooey" with a toothpick in the middle due to the richness of the mixture.

For the glaze

1 cup water

1 cup apricot preserves

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin in sauce pan.

Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil for two minutes. Brush hot glaze on brownies while still warm.

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