. . . and brownie aficionado. Dorie explains that KH was famous for her brownies, and once convinced a young woman named Heather Henderson to stay in school over a plate of them. Ms. Henderson later shared her gratitude to KH for making her tough it out at Bryn Mawr, and for sharing some important life rules: "(1) Never quit. (2) Be yourself and (3) Don't put too much flour in your brownies."
I think that Katharine Hepburn was an enormous talent, so I was eager to pay tribute to her by whipping up a batch of her brownies. I mixed together the tiny bit (1/4 cup) of flour with some salt. I omitted the 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, which was an optional ingredient. If I've learned anything since joining TWD, it's that (in my opinion) (1) chocolate=good. (2) cinnamon=good. (3) chocolate+cinnamon=just plain wrong.
Then I melted a stick of butter and mixed some cocoa and instant coffee over it when it began to melt. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of coffee, but I cut it down to 1 teaspoon after my experience with Ina's Outrageous
Once that's all blended, add in the eggs, sugar and vanilla, without beating anything too vigorously, so as to not add air into the batter. That's really the kind of instruction that I wish came with a video. It's like when our first child was born, and they were actually about to release us from the hospital to take care of this human being on our own. I asked the nurse if I could videotape her swaddling him so I could refer to the video to study her technique when we got home and started to swaddle him incorrectly. The nurse was used to dealing with crazy new moms, so she let me. Anyway, there are definitely times that I wish that I could videotape real bakers doing things like beating with just the right amount of vigor for any mixing situation. Left to my own devices, I just did the best I could.
Then add the dry ingredients, 4 oz. chopped chocolate, and a cup of chopped nuts. I left out the nuts because I prefer brownies without nuts, but in retrospect, I wonder if that omission can help explain what happened next.
That's a view of the underside of the brownies, after baking for thirty minutes and cooling for thirty minutes. Here's a closer look:
The pictures do not adequately convey the magnitude of the rawness of my brownies. Now, the problem with these brownies is that they are SUPPOSED to be gooey when they come out of the oven, so it is hard to really gauge proper gooeyness versus unacceptable gooeyness. In fact, the recipe does not call for the usual knife test, or even the divot test, to evaluate doneness. The only physical characteristic that Dorie says to look for is a "dry papery crust" on the top of the brownies, which mine had. See?
Well, it was clear that the brownies were not going to work in liquid form. My options at that point were (1) freeze; or (2) re-bake. Since I was taking these to a cookout, I decided to re-bake. I stuck them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for another fifteen minutes, at which point they were finally done.
I feel terrible about mangling Katharine Hepburn's brownies; if Heather Henderson tried my twice-baked version of Katharine's brownies she would have quit Bryn Mawr for sure and bummed around Jackson Hole for a few years. But once again we can thank the redemptive powers of butter, sugar and chocolate for saving the day. I mean, how bad could these really be? I'm sure that my texture was off (what with the whole bake/cool/bake again thing), but at the end of the day these were still butter-filled, sugar-filled, chocolate filled bits of decadence. I held my head high when I handed these to the hostess - no shame here! Thanks for the great pick, Lisa!