Hepburn's brownies a taste hit

* Squares: Actress' recipe for chocolate goodies holds the dessert spotlight.

February 17, 1999|By Suzanne Loudermilk, | Suzanne Loudermilk,,SUN FOOD EDITOR

There's no doubt that Katharine Hepburn has created a powerful legacy. Winner of four Academy Awards, this 91-year-old indomitable actress is known for her independence, candor and ultra-classy style.

She's also known for her brownies.

That's right. This screen dynamo who continues to wow video audiences in such films as "Philadelphia Story" with Cary Grant, "The African Queen" with Humphrey Bogart and "On Golden Pond" with Henry Fonda, has always loved to bake. And her indulgent chocolate squares have hooked legions of fans.

We found out about Hepburn's domestic side when Theresa Lonko of Catonsville requested a copy of Hepburn's brownie recipe in an Oct. 28 "Recipe Finder" column in The Sun's A La Carte section. The responses poured in -- from Walla Walla, Wash., to Sioux Falls, S.D., to St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore.

Dozens of readers took the time to share their versions of the recipe, which originally appeared in a Ladies Home Journal article on the great Kate in August 1981. Scribbled on plain paper, printed on pretty cards with bunnies and birds, and photocopied, the recipes bore titles, such as "Kate's Best," "Katherine Hepburn's Chocolate Brownie Bites" and "Brownies-Hepburn."

In one letter, Judy Markowitz of Catonsville wrote: "The first time I tasted them [was] at a neighbor's house. I also never tasted a brownie so great since then."

Nelda I. Ring of Columbia concurred: "It has been a favorite of my family ever since the first time I tried it."

Kim Korby Fraser of LHJ said the magazine still receives numerous requests a year for Hepburn's brownies.

The recipe (which follows) is pretty basic with unsweetened chocolate, butter, vanilla and sugar. The key to these fudgelike treats seems to be in the amount of flour used. The recipe calls for only one-quarter of a cup.

Because less flour is used -- according to a food editor's note that accompanied the recipe in the magazine -- "The brownies have a wonderful pudding-like texture. In fact, if they're cut warm, you could almost eat them with a fork (which is no drawback, we assure you)."

Besides the recipe, the article included Hepburn's views on marriage (she was married once to Philadelphia socialite Ludlow Ogden Smith. It ended in divorce in 1934 after six years), children (she had none), death (which she called, "the big sleep -- lovely") and cooking.

Hepburn, who now lives in Connecticut and will turn 92 on May 12, acknowledged in the interview that her brownies are "sensational. That's not very modest, but they are."

We've reprinted the recipe as it appeared in LHJ, except for listing the ingredients separate from the instructions for easier assembly. There is no mistaking Hepburn's imprint.

As Sun reader Phyllis A. Gloss of Baltimore wrote, "Can't you just hear Hepburn giving the directions?"

Hepburn's Brownies

Makes 16 brownies

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

1/4 pound sweet butter (1 stick)

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

First melt two squares of unsweetened chocolate and 1/4 pound sweet butter (1 stick) in a heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup of sugar. Add 2 eggs along with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and beat like mad. Stir in 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a cup of chopped walnuts -- not smashed up, you know, but just chopped into fairly good sized pieces.

Now mix all that up. Then you butter a square tin (8 inches by 8 inches) and dump the whole thing quickly into the pan. Stuff this pan into a preheated 325 degree oven for 40 minutes. After that, take out the pan and let it cool for awhile. Then cut into 1 1/2-inch squares and dive right in.

Pub Date: 02/17/99

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