Symphonic dessert

It’s amazing where really good recipes can come from. I’ve actually gotten one at a church service (don’t ask!), off a pumpkin pie can label, and from a 3x5 card I found on a library floor in Waco, Texas, in 1957.

How about on a playbill? Dolores Gatch, our daughter Mary Clare’s mother-in-law, found one just that way.

“I don’t remember the production,” she told me, “but it must have had something to do with cooking!”

The recipe is both good and easy – two of my favorite ingredients. This sweet treat has become one of her family’s most requested desserts. And having enjoyed it once more when this Lexington crowd came to Folly Beach earlier this month, I got directions.

Dolores included her preferred brands and personal tweaking in her own words.

Symphony Bars


1 box Duncan Hines Brownie Mix

4 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Symphony Bars (The medium size variety with a beige background wrapper, featuring red lettering). If you prefer, you could use the Creamy Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds & Toffee Chips.

A 13” x 9” cake pan, prepped with cooking spray.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and follow the specific ingredients on the back of the box for cake-like brownies. Once the brownie mix is ready, pour about a third (but not quite half ) of the batter, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Place three of the Symphony Bars on top of the batter across the middle of the pan. Cut the fourth bar in strips and fit these along the edges of the pan to get the most coverage. Add the rest of the batter and put in the oven. Cook according to directions, about half an hour, but test with a toothpick for doneness. Let cool and cut into bars.

Prepare yourself for hugs, compliments, and requests for more.

According to a Hershey website, the name “Symphony” is given to the bars because it’s supposed to be a treat to the mouth in the same way music is to the ears. Thus this dessert is entirely appropriate for the Gatches.

The parents, three grown children, extended family and what is known familiarly as “a passel of grands,” are all musicians, including being vocalists and playing a variety of instruments.

Remarkably, this candy, introduced in 1989, marked the first ingredients change from the original milk chocolate recipe in 1894, designed by Milton Hershey. After 120 years, this chocolate has accumulated a lot of statistics. One of the sweetest lists is from the Delish website.

Americans consume the most chocolate on Valentine’s Day right? Wrong! According to research from the Nielsen Company, Easter historically beats Valentine’s Day, while Halloween trumps both.

How long has chocolate been synonymous with romance? Probably since the early 1500s, at the time of the Aztecs, when chocolate was considered a commodity. Emperor Montezuma “purportedly consumed endless amounts of the sinful stuff as a pre-cursor to his romantic rendezvous.” And Casanova? It’s also said that he liked “the dark stuff” as a prelude to his conquests.

Switzerland eats more chocolate than any other country, according to The National Confectioners Association, with 22 pounds per person annually. Americans barely made the top 10. But we might be able to up that a bit with these Symphony Bars!