Katharine Hepburn's Brownies
My favorite actress of all time, Katharine Hepburn, would have turned 98 today if she hadn't died in the summer of 2003, at the impressive age of 96. I caught onto Hepburn's career in my very early teens, right around the time her magnificent, funny, and slightly cantankerous memoir was published. I have admired her forever and seen almost all of her movies, barring the soft made-for-TV stuff she started taking in the 80s and 90s. The still above is from her greatest dramatic performance, as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, available on DVD for ridiculously low prices. For your initial Hepburn primer, I'd also include her terrific 1938 double-header of Holiday and Bringing Up Baby, her slithery Southern gothic in Suddenly, Last Summer, her heartbreaking misfit in Alice Adams, and her witty but biting Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter. If you're hooked by then, watch her in absolutely everything else, even shit like Rooster Cogburn. If you're not hooked, I can't help you.
Unless I can, with her delicious brownie recipe. I wasn't kidding about having been obsessed with her. When other 14-year-olds on the army base at Hanau, Germany, were playing soccer or whatever, I was rocking the microfiche in the public library, excavating this recipe from some back issue of Ladies Home Journal. These brownies are scary delicious, because there's proportionally so little flour that they are gooier and feel more chocolatey than your average morsel. So, in her own words (and really, what better way to celebrate her birthday?)...
2 squares unsweetened chocolate
¼ lb. sweet butter (i.e., one stick)
1 C. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ C flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 C. chopped walnuts
First, melt chocolate and butter in heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Add eggs along with vanilla and beat like mad. Stir in flour, salt, and the chopped walnuts—not smashed up, you know, just chopped up into fairly good-sized pieces.
Now mix all that up. Then you butter a square tin (8 x 8 in.) and dump the whole thing quickly into the pan. Stuff this pan into a preheated 325°F oven for 40 minutes. After that, take out the pan and let it cool for a while. THen cut into 1½ x 1 squares and dive right in.
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