Memory Lane Brownies

Keith browniesweb

I just realized that I haven’t posted on this blog in February. Luckily, I just made something that was definitely blogworthy so I will squeak in a February post.

Wednesday evening I spoke to a group in Alexandria, Virginia, about my book Pulling Taffy. The fun, interested and interesting crowd included one of my college dorm mates, Jo-Ann McNally (as gorgeous and peppy as ever); a man who had known and loved my darling  honorary godmother Dagny Johnson; the wonderful Joan Sutton, my mother’s geriatric adviser; and a number of people who had lived through dementia care themselves. I had a wonderful time and came home with a gift from my hosts as well as money from book sales. (I love money!)

Family members also came—and I wanted to have something easy yet tasty on hand to serve them after the program. It was snowing the morning, and I really didn’t feel like taking the Tinkymobile to the grocery store to purchase any exotic ingredients. Fortunately, I thought of Keith Brownies.

This brownie recipe may be found in a book called Treasury of Tennessee Treats, published by the Keith Memorial Church in Athens, Tennessee, home of my college roommate Kelly Boyd. I wish I had a photo of Kelly and me at Mount Holyoke to show you, but all of those photos are in another state. Picture two long-haired, short, slightly plump, astronomy-and-film-loving young girls with big smiles, and you won’t be far off.

Kelly and I made these brownies back in the day—and a couple of years ago when I asked her for the recipe she sent me her late Aunt Lucile’s copy of the cookbook. Lucile Mitchell made the first and the best cream candy I ever tasted, and I am honored to have her cookbook in my collection.

In addition to the brownies and many other dishes, the Keith Cookbook features one of those charming, sentimental “recipes” for a good life favored by community-cookbook committees in generations past. (The copy I have, the book’s second edition, was published in 1962.) I’m sure the ladies wouldn’t mind my reprinting it. Its message is sappy but inspiring.


To tell you the truth, the brownies didn’t QUITE live up to my memory of them. (It’s very hard for anything to live up to a memory.) They were still extremely tasty, however—somewhere between fudgy and cakey in consistency—and no one seemed to have any trouble eating them!

Best of all, they took no time at all to make and used ingredients I ALWAYS have in the house. I will definitely keep them in my repertoire. I hope you enjoy them, too.

fudgy batterweb

Keith Brownies
Adapted from Treasury of Tennessee Treats (Aunt Lucile’s copy)


1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8-by-8-inch pan. Cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon. Beat in the eggs; then stir in the remaining ingredients.

Bake for 25 minutes. Cut into bars. The original recipe suggested cutting 16 squares, but I cut about 30! I love serving tiny treats and then allowing for seconds.


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5 Responses to “Memory Lane Brownies”

  1. tut-tut says:

    A good brownie can’t be beat. I know some can’t/won’t eat them with nuts, but I find that walnut flavor the perfect foil for the dense chocolate of the brownie.

  2. tinkyweisblat says:

    I go back and forth, tut-tut. As you can probably tell from the pix, I made this batch without nuts. I agree that sometimes they MAKE the brownie, but unfortunately, I have yet to persuade my nephew Michael that nuts are food.

  3. Cara says:

    Yum…and advice for life, too! thank you Tinky! How are you and when are you coming HOME?

  4. Betsy says:

    This is great! Talk about Memory Lane: I remember Betty Baisch (did you ever know her?) teaching me how to make brownies when I was about 11 or 12 years old in the Farm House before it was renovated, of course, and Alice’s kids were little and I was a sort of au pair for Alice.

    The recipe is almost identical except that it uses 4 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (I like Ghirardelli’s best and it’s less expensive than Baker’s!) and a little less than one cup of flour. Otherwise identical.

    I’ve been making brownies exactly like that the same way ever since! And I make them ALL the time! keep them in the freezer so that they’ll always be there when needed – for grandchildren and husbands mostly. Sometimes guests with schlagg on top! I make them without nuts often for the kids.

  5. tinkyweisblat says:

    Betsy, I love YOUR brownie memories. And Cara, I’ll be home with the daffodils.

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