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The Palmer House Story

Celebrating over 150 years of history in Chicago

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Our Beginnings


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The Palmer House Brownie

The first reference to the “brownie” in America appears in the Sears Roebuck Catalog, published in Chicago in 1898. In 1893, Bertha Palmer asked a pastry chef in the Palmer House kitchen for a dessert suitable for ladies attending the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. Requesting a cake-like confection to be included in boxed lunches, the Palmer House Brownie was created. The recipe below is well over a century old and is the same one used for the brownie served in the Palmer House, a Hilton Hotel today.

Close-up of brownie on plate

Official Palmer House Brownie Recipe


14 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 lb. butter
12 oz. granulated sugar
4 oz. flour
8 eggs
12 oz. crushed walnuts
Vanilla extract



1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. 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 continue mixing.

3. Pour mixture into a 9-by-12 baking sheet. Sprinkle walnuts on top, pressing down slightly into the mixture with your hand. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.

4. Brownies are done when the edges begin to crisp and have risen about 1/4 of an inch. 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: Mix together 1 c. water, 1 c. apricot preserves, and 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin in sauce pan. Mix thoroughly and bring to a boil for two minutes. Brush hot glaze on brownies while still warm.

The Never Ending Legend

In recent years, Palmer House has undergone a $170 million renovation to ensure that it includes all the modern comforts and conveniences our 21st-century guests have come to expect. While preserving our significant history, “the Chicago hotel the world knows best” has expertly positioned itself for the next era in downtown Chicago accommodations.

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