Whether Hanukkah or Christmas-- when celebrating with family it's fun to try new recipes!

Editor's Note: At STLSportsPage.com we prefer Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to "Happy Holidays."  Dec. 16 was the start of  Hanukkah and we want to wish happy greetings to all our Jewish friends. This recipe presented by our Travel/Food Editor Suzanne Corbett would be great for anyone planning a seasonal gathering-- and it's easy to make!

Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days when the Maccabees rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem after their victory over the Syrian-Greeks. Traditionally those celebrating Hanukkah eat fried foods like potato pancakes- called latkes and/or doughnuts that are fried because they are cooked in oil and celebrate the miracle of the holiday.

 For those celebrating Hanukkah-- they've been making Latkes all week at Protzel's Deli, so be sure to stop by and tell them Rob Rains sent you.  (Protzel's Deli, 7601 Wydowne in Clayton (one block east of Hanley Road.)

We offer these delicious brownie recipes-- even though they don't have oil in them-- in the spirit of celebrating family, friends and food during the month of December-- as well as each of our faiths.

And for our Christian friends, the red peppermint gives them the holiday look. Enjoy.

Chicago’s Palmer House Brownie: A Holiday Treat with or without the Peppermint

By Suzanne Corbett, STLSportsPage.com Travel/Food Editor

December 8 was National Brownie Day. If you’re like me Brownie Day was overlooked thanks to the holiday rush of other sweet Christmas treats demanding more attention. No matter the historic Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago who claims this iconic American sweet as its own. Of course, like St. Louis and the ice cream cone, the invention of the brownie’s recipe is not without controversy.

Early brownie recipes from the Boston School of Cooking can be traced to 1896. Yet, that recipe was made with molasses and baked in molds. Another dating from 1906 uses Bakers Chocolate, which bakes the batter in a square pan. Another source marks an unknown Bangor Maine housewife whose omission of baking powder in her chocolate cake created the first brownie. All valid amounts, however, I prefer to embrace the Palmer House’s claim because it dates to 1893 along with its unique history connected with the recipe.

The Palmer House’s story hinges on its flamboyant owner Bertha Palmer who requested a dessert for her lady friends to enjoy while attending the Chicago 1893 World's Fair. She instructed her chef that the treat should be smaller than cake and easily held in the hand. The result was the moist, chewy chocolate dense cake that became the brownie. While the first Palmer House brownies featured an apricot glaze and walnuts, brownies today can have a variety of variations, even at the Palmer House.

Each holiday season Palmer House pastry chefs bake peppermint topped Candyland Brownies, a recipe they generously share with STLSportsPage.com fans.

Palmer House Candyland Brownie

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
4 ounces butter
2 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
2 ounces fudge (recipe below)
1 ounce crushed peppermint candy

1: Melt chocolate with the butter in a double boiler.
2: Combine sugar, flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl.
3: Slowly add flour mixture into melted chocolate and blend until smooth, then add in egg and mix well.
4: Pour into 4x6-inch baking pan that has been coated lightly with buttered and dusted with flour.
5: Bake at 300 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes. Note that the brownie will test gooey when a toothpick is inserted in the middle of the brownie. Remove and cool.
6: frost with the fudge and sprinkle top with crushed peppermint candy.

Fudge for Frosting
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons coca powder
2/3 cups whole milk
4 ounces salted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1: Mix sugar, cocoa powder and milk together in a saucepan. Cook over a medium heat and bring to a boil.
2: Remove saucepan from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.
3: Return to heat and whisk until fudge brings to boil and thickens.
4: Remove from heat and continue to beat until fudge thickens.

The Original 1893 Palmer House Brownie

14 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1 lb Butter
12 oz. Granulated Sugar
4 oz Flour
8 ea. Whole Eggs
12 oz Crushed Walnuts Vanilla extract

1: Melt Chocolate with butter in a double boiler Mix dry ingredients into mixing bowl, except walnuts
2: Mix chocolate with dry ingredients, beat 4 to 5 minutes Add Egg and pour into 9”x 12” baking sheet, sprinkle walnuts on top, press walnuts down slightly into mixture with your hand.
3:Bake in a preheated oven at 300° for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool about 30 minutes before spreading a thin layer of the glaze on top with a pastry brush.
1 Cup water 1 Cup Apricot Preserves
1 Teaspoon Unflavored Gelatin
1: Mix together water, preserves and unflavored gelatin in a saucepan, mix thoroughly and bring to a boil for two minutes. USE HOT.

Special Tip: Brownies are easier to cut if you place in the freezer for about 3-4 hours after glazing.