Brownies are perennial lifesavers. They’re welcome anywhere, from church suppers to dinner parties, and while there are plenty of serviceable mixes on the market, homemade brownies are easy to make and special to serve.
One of the most beloved brownie recipes floating around is the intense, chocolate-lover’s version made famous by the straight-talking actress, Katharine Hepburn. Shortly after her death in 2003, The New York Times ran a letter to the editor that told a charming personal exchange between the letter’s writer, Heather Henderson and Hepburn, who was a neighbor of her father’s in New York. The letter included the actor’s brownie recipe, which later made it into the Times’ food section and is still one of its most popular online recipes.
These brownies stand out. Their flavor and texture resembles the bitter decadence of flourless chocolate cake, although the recipe does use some flour (a mere quarter cup). Apparently, Hepburn felt strongly that the quality of a brownie was directly proportional to a cook’s restraint with flour; too much flour was unacceptable. The resulting texture of these brownies is chewy, gooey and dense. They pack a wallop in the most delicious way.
If you’ve got some cocoa on hand, there’s a good chance you can turn these brownies out in short order. The remaining ingredients are pantry and fridge staples.
Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies
½ cup cocoa
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1 cup broken-up walnuts or pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the cocoa, and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the sugar, flour, nuts, vanilla and salt. Pour into a greased 8-by-8-inch square pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, but be careful that they don’t overbake—they should be gooey. Let them cool (an essential step) and cut into bars.
Recipe from The New York Times
Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor and author of Hungry for Louisiana, An Omnivore’s Journey. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.