Hep­burn knew how to bake a brownie

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life -

bak­ing the en­tire thing. No fore­thought is re­quired be­cause there’s not even a need to wait for the but­ter to soften.

Depend­ing on the ra­tios of eggs, flour and but­ter, though, some brown­ies will come out cakey, while oth­ers dense and fudgy.

My ideal brownie is on the fudgy end of the spec­trum, with that crackle-like top that hides the rich, dark bar be­low.

In my search for just such a brownie, I stum­bled onto nu­mer­ous posts ex­tolling the virtues of the recipe from famed film ac­tress Katharine Hep­burn.

She may be bet­ter known for her film roles and as­sertive, un­apolo­getic per­son­al­ity, but among bak­ing cir­cles, the woman who starred in The Philadel­phia Story and the African Queen is also known for her brown­ies.

How the recipe first came to be part of the pub­lic realm varies as widely as the num­ber of brownie rec- ipes found on the In­ter­net.

Some say she was per­suaded to give it up to gos­sip colum­nist Liz Smith; oth­ers re­port a neigh­bour se­cured the recipe af­ter bring­ing a batch of brown­ies to the ac­tress who de­clared they had too much flour and had been over­baked be­fore she listed off her own recipe.

The story, though, is far less im­por­tant than the recipe re­sults; gooey and rich, fudgy with the req­ui­site crack­led top, these are the deca­dent brown­ies that do prompt crav­ings.

A scant amount of flour keeps them dense and chewy, the rich­ness cut only by the chunks of toasted wal­nuts lit­tered through­out.

Al­though easy enough, I wanted to sim­plify the recipe even fur­ther. With all due re­spect to Ms. Hep­burn, if I can avoid wash­ing additional dishes, I will. So, I skipped the step of us­ing a dou­ble boiler to melt the but­ter and choco­late in favour of a one-pot method that dou­bles as a mix­ing bowl. Within just a few min­utes, and with very lit­tle ef­fort on my part, I was pour­ing the fin­ished bat­ter into the pan and putting the whole thing in the oven. The hard­est part, truth­fully, was wait­ing for the brown­ies to cool be­fore slic­ing. (It’s pos­si­ble I didn’t ac­tu­ally wait as long as I should have.)

With the crav­ing an­swered — and a new favourite brownie recipe in hand — life could go back to nor­mal.

But I know that when it comes again, it won’t take much to ap­pease it. And that is dan­ger­ous.

Katharine Hep­burn’s Brown­ies

Take cau­tion not to over­bake these as that will cause them to dry out. Swap the wal­nuts for other nuts, or omit en­tirely, as de­sired. 1/2 cup (125 mL) un­salted but­ter 2 oz (60 g) unsweet­ened choco­late 1 cup (250 mL) su­gar 2 eggs

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt 1 cup (250 mL) wal­nuts, chopped

1/4 cup (60 mL) flour

Pre­heat oven to 325F (160C).

But­ter an 8x8-inch (20x20-cm) pan and line with parch­ment paper, let­ting a few inches hang over each side, like a sling.

In a medium saucepan set over low heat, melt the but­ter and choco­late, stir­ring of­ten, un­til smooth. Re­move from the heat and whisk in the su­gar, then eggs and vanilla. Switch to a spat­ula to fold in the salt, wal­nuts and then the flour, stir­ring un­til just com­bined. Pour the bat­ter into the pre­pared pan and bake un­til a tooth­pick in­serted in the cen­tre comes out with only a few moist crumbs on it, about 40 to 50 min­utes. Cool com­pletely be­fore us­ing the sling to re­move the brown­ies from the pan and cut­ting into squares. Makes one 8x8-inch pan of bars.

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Gwen­dolyn Richards/Cal­gary Herald

Katharine Hep­burn’s brown­ies are rich and fudgy.

Katharine Hep­burn

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