Sunday, May 27, 2012

Katherine Hepburn's chocolate brownies

Yes, this recipe is ascribed to THE Katherine Hepburn, the one who, as pub quiz enthusiasts may know, won a record four Best Actress Oscars. At first sight, it appears to have far too little chocolate, and a surprisingly modest amount of flour. But it produces delicious, fudgy results, albeit - as you can see - somewhat crumbly ones.

The espresso that I included features in only one online version, and may not be canonical.

50g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)
120g butter
200g sugar (I used caster; some recipes specify granulated)
1tsp vanilla essence
2tbsp brewed espresso coffee
2 eggs, beaten
45g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Handful of chopped walnuts (optional)

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate and butter over a very gentle heat, stirring all the time. Take the pan off the heat as soon as you think the mixture is hot enough to melt any remaining solids.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the sugar in a bowl, and stir, adding the vanilla and espresso. Stir in the eggs, flour, salt, and walnuts, if using. (I am not sure why you need the salt. It does promote the development of gluten, so may help the brownies to cohere – but perhaps not in this small amount.)

You’re supposed to bake the mixture (at 170C), which is almost alarmingly runny, in a lined (with greaseproof paper), 8” (20cm), square tin. I had only a round, 23cm tin, and my brownies were too thin. They took about 40 minutes.

Bee Wilson: Please, less chocolate in my brownies! (Telegraph)


BaconButty said...

You make no mention of the oven temp, but is it safe to assume you baked at 170°C, as per the recipe in The Telegraph?


Nicholas Clee said...

Good point! I set my oven at gas mark 3, which is hotter than the standard equivalent of 160C. The brownies took about 40 minutes.

Apologies. I'll add this detail to the recipe.

BaconButty said...

Hi again! :)

I have baked these today, albeit with a few changes
I replaced the optional walnuts with a mix of hazelnuts and cranberries (I made do with the contents of my food cupboard!) and left out the expresso.
They were baked in a 25x15cm tin at 165°C for 25mn (just to check) then for a further 10mn.

The result is a very thin, brittle crust covering a moist, loose crumb. Unlike other recipes I have used, this does not produces a solid, fudgy interior.

The brownies taste delicious, despite (because of?) the substitution!

How thick should a brownie be? Mine are 1" (2.5cm) thin (thick?)...

Nicholas Clee said...

2.5cm is probably ideal. Mine, as you may be able to tell, were thinner than that. It doesn't really matter. Otherwise, we appear to have achieved similar results.

I recommend the espresso. It contributes a further layer of flavour.