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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Katharine Hepburn's Brownies

So far, the best recipe for brownies that I’ve ever come across is Katharine Hepburn’s. The story of Kate’s brownies is all over the web, in various forms, but it goes something like this:

After Hepburn died, eulogies came from all over the world, many including stories about her brownies. In an article in Bon Appetit magazine, a woman recalled wanting to quit her studies at Bryn Mawr. Her father managed to get Katharine, a Bryn Mawr alum and a neighbor, to intervene. The famous Kate invited both the young woman and her father to her home one afternoon. At tea, the budding student got a taste of the legendary brownies as well as a glimpse of the actress's views on education.

In her tribute to Kate, Ms. Henderson (the young woman) wrote, "I'll always be grateful to Miss Hepburn for making me stick it out at Bryn Mawr and for giving me these rules to live by: 1. Never quit; 2. Be yourself and 3. Don't put too much flour in your brownies."

And that really is the key. This recipe calls for only ¼ cup flour, making the brownies turn out quite chewy and dense, and not dry at all. I usually leave out the walnuts because I’m not much of a fan of a nuts in my baked goods, but I’m sure they’d be fantastic either way. Besides, who says I have to follow this recipe to a ‘T’? As Kate would say, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.”

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

• 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
• 2 squares unsweetened chocolate
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Melt together 1 stick butter and 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and take the saucepan off the heat. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat the mixture well. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt. (In the original recipe, 1 cup chopped walnuts is added here as well.) Bake the brownies in a buttered and floured 8-inch-square pan at 325°F for about 40 minutes.

(I added some chocolate buttercream frosting on top. I’m sure Kate would approve.)


  1. I love how you added the chocolate frosting to the already insanely chocolatey brownies. I made these a few days ago, but have some left...I think I'm going to have to add frosting. Brilliant!

  2. oh my Lord!!!! I just saw theses on Foodgawker and I think I am going to have to make these tonight!!!! They look so yummy!