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Katharine Hepburn's Surprising Key to Making Delicious Brownies

Feb 21, 2018 06:45PM ● By Linda Ditch
"With all the upheaval going on in the world right now, perhaps you could use a little chocolate. Or maybe a lot of chocolate. How about some brownies from a lady known for her talent, wit, and spunk." — Katharine Hepburn

This brownie recipe is adapted from one in a New York Times letter to the editor. It’s a sweet story about the writer’s encounter with Miss Hepburn, who lived near her family’s Connecticut home. Besides learning life lessons from the actress, the writer learned her key to delicious brownies: Do not use too much flour. Notice the recipe calls for only a quarter of a cup.

I made two small changes to the original recipe. First, I added a bit of instant espresso powder since I find it enhances the chocolate flavor in any recipe. Second, I baked the brownies in a 9-inch-square baking dish instead of the 8-inch pan called for in the recipe because, well, I didn’t have an 8-inch pan. So I shortened the baking time a bit.

That is the key to this dish . . . do not over bake. These brownies are supposed to be fudgy and gooey. This is an easy, make-any-time recipe since it contains ingredients you probably have in your pantry. The resulting brownie is a chocoholic's fantasy. While they may not give you spunk, these treats are sure to make you feel a bit better.


Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

Adapted from a recipe found in the New York Times

Makes 12 brownies

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts

Pinch of salt

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp instant espresso powder


1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray an 8-inch-square or 9-inch-square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

2. Put the cocoa powder and butter into a large microwave-safe bowl. Place in the microwave for about 1 minute on medium power or until the butter is melted. Whisk the mixture together until smooth. Set aside to cool a bit.

3. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, walnuts, and salt. Set aside.

4. When the butter-cocoa mixture has cooled slightly, whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Then whisk in the vanilla and espresso powder.

5. Pour the sugar and flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. Stir until just combined. Don’t over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes for an 8-inch-square pan, or 20 to 25 minutes for a 9-inch-square pan. Do not over bake. The brownies are supposed to be fudgy and gooey.

6. Remove the brownies from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting.


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