Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen (1951)
…The recipe comes from a letter to the editor of the New York Times on July 6, 2003. In the letter, Hepburn’s New York neighbor Heather Henderson recalled her first memorable meeting with Katharine. At the time, Heather was threatening to quit her studies at Bryn Mawr, Katharine’s alma mater. Heather’s father, who had noticed that Katharine lived nearby, slipped a letter into her mail slot, begging her to talk some sense into his daughter. Katharine called Heather at 7:30am the next morning and lectured her on the stupidity of her decision. The two arranged to meet for tea. Katharine convinced Heather to stick it out at Bryn Mawr. This began a series of casual meetings between Katharine and the Henderson family.
One day, Heather’s father heard that Katharine had been in a car accident and was recovering. He stopped by her place to bring her a batch of brownies. Hepburn tasted them and balked. “Too much flour! And don’t overbake them! They should be moist, not cakey!” As always, Katharine was opinionated and brutally honest. She rattled off her own brownie recipe while Heather’s father scribbled notes. The recipe appears below, with a few of my own notes in the baking instructions.
- ½ cup cocoa or 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker’s chocolate
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans
You will also need a 8x8 inch baking dish.Melt butter with the cocoa or chocolate together in a heavy saucepan over medium low, whisking constantly till blended. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well.Pour into a well buttered 8-inch square baking pan.Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares.These brownies are very fudgy and may be somewhat difficult to slice cleanly; use a sharp knife and a spatula to help them loosen from the baking dishI made these brownies twice over the weekend, and they are wonderfully rich and gooey. I tried the first batch with cocoa (from the original recipe), and the second with baker’s chocolate. I preferred the brownies made with melted chocolate, though both batches were good. In my oven they took about 45 minutes; as Katharine said, you should make sure you don’t overbake them, or they’ll get dry. I may use a little less sugar next time, and half the nuts, but these are personal preferences..
Publicity sketch of Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year (1942)
"I’m so relieved. I didn’t want to lose you."
Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story, 1940.
Katharine Hepburn, 1937
"She talks at you as though you were a microphone; She lectured the hell out of me on temperance and the evils of drink. She’s actually kind of sweet and lovable, though, and she’s absolutely honest and absolutely fair about her work. None of this late on the set or demanding close-ups or that kind of thing. She doesn’t give a damn how she looks. She doesn’t have to be waited on, either. I don’t think she tries to be a character, I think she is one.” — Humphrey Bogart