I have searched high and low for the best chocolate brownie, and I believe I have found it at Copenhagen Bakery and Café in Northport. At three quarters of an inch thick, their brownie — made with or without walnuts using only Belgian chocolate and real butter — is rich, dense and moist.
The creator of this delectable delight is Flemming Hansen, a Danish immigrant who starting working as an apprentice in Denmark at sixteen years old. Flemming always liked to cook and had dreamed of being a chef at a young age. He found his niche in pastries, and after finishing a three-year apprenticeship moved to California as an exchange student, and worked in a bakery in Solvang a town founded by Danes in Santa Barbara County. There he met his wife, Stace; the two eventually moved to Long Island, Stace’s home. In 1998 they bought their bakery on Woodbine Avenue. It quickly became a success, selling all kinds of Scandinavian pastries, artisan breads, specialty cakes, pies, homemade soups and, of course, brownies.
“[The brownie] is the most requested item from people who have lived here and moved, and who come back to visit,” says Stace. “Our customers’ families and friends ask for them. People come from all over just to get our brownies, because you can’t find anything like them anywhere. Even people who are on diets eat our brownies.”
The brownies are $2 each, and I’m sure you won’t be able to walk out of there without a box of at least four.
Copenhagen Bakery and Café is open daily, Monday through Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays until 4:30 p.m.
Some brownie history: The treat is said to be invented in the late 1800s by a Chicago chef working at the Palmer House Hotel. As the story goes, a group of women attending a fair asked the chef to make them boxed lunches. For dessert, they requested a small cake that could be neatly eaten with their hands. The chef made them a chocolate delight with walnuts and apricot glaze. The hotel still has the original brownie recipe on their menu.
There are several other creation myths for the brownie: a baker accidentally left flour out of the batter; a chef in Boston mistakenly added melted chocolate to biscuit dough or a housewife in Maine, who did not have baking powder on hand, made her cake recipe without it and served the flat result anyway.
In Flanagan’s sixth book, The Medal, the main character, Bethany Fitzpatrick, is the owner of Giovanni’s Italian Bakery in Northport. Long Islanders who have read my book know right away the bakery is actually Copenhagen.