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Elizabeth Barrett's Brownies with Pistachio

It is essential for all home cooks to have a go-to brownie recipe, and this one might just be my favorite! As the legend goes, Elizabeth Barrett was a literary success in the nineteenth century, with popular and well-received collections of poems, who caught the eye of none other than Robert Browning. They began corresponding, and, two years after they sent their first letters, secretly married (so as to avoid the overbearing nature of Elizabeth’s father). Her father inevitably found out about their marriage, and after the initial rejection, learned to accept their love, allowing the couple to move to Italy and create literary works together. This vintage recipe was supposedly a favorite of Robert Browning, made by none other than Elizabeth Barrett for him.

Alongside a beautiful back story, this recipe is also very practical. The brownie batter is super simple to make, and the bake time means that you have a gooey, fudge-y, perfect brownie. Pistachios are my chosen nut; I believe they go particularly well with chocolate, but you can substitute it or forego it altogether if you prefer.

Elizabeth Barrett's Brownies with Pistachio


  • 5 tablespoons butter

  • 3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup pistachios, chopped

Yields: 9 large brownies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 35 minutes


  1. Preheat oven 325°F.

  2. In a bowl, sift the flour with salt and baking powder. Set aside.

  3. In a double-boiler, melt the butter.

  4. If you do not have a double-boiler, you can place a bowl over a small saucepan with barely-simmering water.

  5. Add the chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate has melted.

  6. Remove from heat, add sugar and the flour mixture. Mix until well incorporated, then whisk in the eggs and the vanilla extract.

  7. Fold in the nuts.

  8. Place in a greased 8-inch pan and bake for 35 minutes.

  9. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

  10. Remove from the pan, and cut into squares.

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