Last week an obituary caught my eye: "Mary Jane Klinkner, age 82, passed away on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007, at HospiceCare. She was born in Sparta on March 4, 1924, the youngest of ten children, to Henry and Mary (Burke) Klinkner. Mary Jane graduated from West High School. She loved her dogs and really enjoyed cooking and baking. Her special chocolate fudge was the best. She worked for Rennebohm's Drug Store as a manager of food service for 40 years. The infamous "Hot Fudge Mary Jane" was inspired by her..."
Ah, the Hot Fudge Mary Jane. Always a special treat at the classic Rennie's soda fountains (which themselves hold a special place in the hearts of longtime Madisonians), it was a brownie topped with vanilla ice cream and drenched in hot fudge. I'd never known that Rennebohm's was the only place that called it a Hot Fudge Mary Jane, and that if you went outside of Madison, no one would know what you were talking about if you tried to order something by that name. What am I talking about, outside Madison? I guess no one outside of a Rennebohm's Drug Store soda fountain would know what you were talking about. But that was what my mom always called them, and that's what I've always called them.
I can't say for sure if this comes from Mary Jane Klinkner, but this recipe for Rennebohm's brownies, the base for the Mary Jane, ran in Marge Snyder and Suzanne Breckenridge's old food column in Isthmus, July 5, 1984:
5 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate
9 oz. (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons.) margarine
3 c. sugar
2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. walnuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the chocolate and margarine in a small saucepan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and eggs together with an electric mixer, then add the chocolate mixture and incorporate well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients by spoonfuls to the chocolate mixture, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla, combine well and stir in the walnuts. Pour into a well-greased 9" by 12" pan and bake for 27 minutes. The brownies should be moist and chewy. Makes 2 dozen.