Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Feet are Made of Clay: Katharine Hepburn Brownies

Pin It Now! Bonus points if you can pinpoint the quote from the title--also, it be clear that you have unexpected depth* ;o) I have a special fondness for Katharine Hepburn that is doubled (exponentially) by the fact that she is a fellow graduate of Bryn Mawr, which builds nicely into my continued point.

Shortly after Ms. Hepburn's death, the New York Times published a letter to the editor where the writer detailed Katharine--in true Mawrter kicking-butt fashion--quelled the author's doubts about school and happened to make her some awesome brownies in the process. It's awesome, so go read Straight Talk From Miss Hepburn; Plus the Actress's Own Brownie Recipe.

Seriously, read it. Don't worry, I'll wait.

Read it? Good. Isn't she awesome? It's a Bryn Mawr graduate trait ;o)

I'm a huge fan of brownies (and cookies. cake. pie, too...) and always meant to make the lovely Ms. Hepburn's brownies. But then I lost the recipe. Bummer, forget that idea. Yet Fate intervened!

In Dorie Greenspan's absolutely breathtaking cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours, she has a recipe that builds on the Hepburn brownie requirements: gooey, chocolatey, not too dense, yet adds some awesome refinements.

I love these brownies. I've made them at least five or six times... in the past month or two. My roommate refers to them as "those ridiculously delicious brownies". When I take the first bite, I always wonder why I spent so long making the box of mix, because these taste better and take an equal amount of time. And don't have bizarre chemicals in there, either.

These are also my continued favorite because I got make them today for the San Francisco Food Bloggers Bake Sale. Anita (aka Pastrygirl, awesome creator of the Dessert First blog) organized it, and I got meet such awesome cooks and bakers in the Bay Area! I felt like such a newbie (me, with my 3 whole blog entries) but everyone was so nice and welcoming and hilarious and I had a great time!

Bakesale madness at Omnivore Books!! Come and git some. on Twitpic
Here we are at the sale. I'm wearing black :o)

Shauna, blogger of Piece of Cake, has a great post about Scenes from a Bake Sale. Such pretty food, guys. Yum.

And, finally, to the brownies!

Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies
(pictures are borrowed from Confessions of a Bakeaholic, because my camera is terrible)

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground instant coffee
  • 2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup broken or chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan (Note: I use a 9x9 pan, which has the downside of making them super skinny, but it totally works because it's so rich in flavor, the smallest amount still feels decadent) and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, if you’re using it, and salt together.

Put the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and place the pan over low heat. When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee. Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it. Remove from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes.
Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time. Next, stir in the sugar and vanilla (don’t beat anything too vigorously — you don’t want to add air to the batter), followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and chopped chocolate. (I don't use nuts, but I usually sprinkle mini chocolate chips in there, which is all kinds of awesome.) Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.) Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper and invert onto a cutting board. Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side.
SERVING: These are happy being served in all the typical ways — with whipped cream, ice cream or Hot Fudge Sauce or paired with a glass of milk to allow for dunking. I think they are best at room temperature, when they are at their moistest, but they are also very good chilled.
STORING: Wrapped well, the brownies will keep for 3 days at room temperature or frozen for up to 2 months.

*If you haven't seen The Philadelphia Story, you need to. Absolutely awesome and hilarious and I love it.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Katie!

    Great meeting you at the Bake Sale. It's funny that you made the Katharine Hepburn's brownies. I've actually seen two version of it pop up in my cookbooks (The New York Cookbook by Mollie O'Neill which has the original and The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz which he adapted). However I've actually I've never seen the Dorie Greenspan's version and I've never made it with powdered cocoa, only with melted chocolate.

    We should do a Katharine Hepburn Brownie blind taste test! The original vs. the Dorie Greenspan vs. the David Lebovitz version!

    Anyhow, hope to see you soon!