The Department of Defense Has its Own 26 Page Brownie Recipe, Here’s Why

Photo by Angiola Harry on Unsplash

The US military is famous for its ability to have a plan for every single scenario imaginable. Whether that be nuclear deterrents, war on its own soil, plans to defeat its own allies if necessary or nuclear submarines silently patrolling an adversary’s oceans, the US has it covered. This meticulous level of planning even extends to the food it prepares, in particular, the chocolate brownie, which has 26 pages dedicated to perfecting this delicious dessert.

This recipe goes into great length to cover all the bases of producing this yummy treat. Being a military document it is formally written, which feels natural when explaining how to field strip and assemble a rifle, but becomes slightly terrifying when aggressively detailing the amount of sugar to be used in brownies.

The recipe is more akin to assembling a nuclear bomb than mixing up a batch of brownies.

Think a simple wack on the side of a bowl is the way to crack an egg? Think again. According to the US military, “The whole eggs shall be egg whites and egg yolks in their natural proportions as broken directly from the shell eggs as evidenced by a USDA Egg Products Inspection Certificate.”

But that is not all, you may use liquid, frozen or whole eggs; “Whole eggs may be liquid or frozen and shall have been processed and labeled in accordance with the Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs and Egg Products (7 CFR Part 59).”

That seems manageable, I’m sure glad I can keep these liquid eggs for over 73 hours after pasteurization. Wrong!

“Liquid whole eggs shall be held at a temperature of 400F or lower and shall be held for not more than 72 hours from the time of pasteurization until the start of formulation of the product in which they are used.”

Frozen eggs come with equally threatening instructions.

“Frozen whole eggs shall be held at 100F or lower and used within 120 days from the date of production. The whole eggs shall be free from off-odors and off-flavors, such as sulfide-like, fruity, sour, musty, or metallic, and shall be free from foreign materials.”

Okay so eggs are very particular, but surely adding fat will be much simpler, right? Nope.

“Shortening shall be a refined, hydrogenated vegetable oil or combination of refined vegetable oils which are in common use by the baking industry. Coconut and palm kernel oils may be used only in the coating. The shortening shall have a stability of not less than 100 hours as determined by the Active Oxygen Method (AOM) in Method Cd 12-57 of the Commercial Fats and Oils chapter in the Official and Tentative Methods of the American Oil Chemists Society.”

“The shortening may contain alpha monoglycerides and an antioxidant or combination of antioxidants, as permitted by the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS), and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and regulations promulgated thereunder.”


So you have your eggs (either frozen, liquid or whole, and broken as evidenced by a USDA Egg Products Inspection Certificate), your shortening (vegetable oils which may contain alpha monoglycerides), and the rest of the ingredients. Can we put them in the oven and eat them yet? Not quite.

After pouring the batter into the pan “at a rate that will yield uncoated brownies,” we must bake for 30 to 45 minutes until done. Once they are baked, we must check that their moisture content is no more than 8.0 percent, otherwise, we must complete 150 press-ups (just kidding).

The brownies are nicely baked, have a moisture content of less than 8.0 percent, and look delicious, but before we can eat them, they must be “completely enrobed with a continuous uniform
chocolate coating,” in an amount “no less than 29 percent by weight of the finished product.”

Bon Appétit!

The brownies are subject to such an intense recipe in part because it’s the military and that’s what they do, but mainly because the brownies have to be able to survive the rigors associated with the military. These brownies are able to last up to three years, so they require very specific ingredients to make this happen.

A US military official once said about the brownies: “What would happen if you cooked a meal, stored it in a stifling hot warehouse, dropped it out of an airplane, dragged it through the mud, left it out with bugs and vermin, and ate it three years later?”

In the case of the brownies, they should be perfectly edible.

Jesse Beckett

Jesse Beckett is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE