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Katharine Hepburns Walnut Brownies

Katharine Hepburn was known for her incredible acting abilities and her devil may care attitude. The star was also fiercely independant and hated wearing shoes. She favored doing things her way and was known for being quite bossy at times, though with a big heart and hidden humility. Her particular way of doing things is also evident in a certain story about her famous brownie recipe, a fudgy concoction with that thin, crispy layer on top and a dense center.

Katharine Hepburn in 1932 by Ernest A Bacharach
Via: Ernest A. Bacharach/Photoplay Magazine

The story goes that some of Hepburn’s neighbors when she was living in New York had brought her some homemade brownies as a gift. She pointed out that the brownies had too much flour and had been over-baked. But, ever generous of spirit she gave these neighbors her family’s own rich walnut brownie recipe. From the there this legendary recipe was published in a cookbook by Dorie Greenspan. Since then lovers of both Old Hollywood and of moist brownies have been flocking to this recipe.

Unlike some brownie recipes this one does not rely on cocoa. Instead you’ll need to melt 2 ounces of baking chocolate over a double boiler along with a 8 tablespoons of butter. Then whisk in the eggs, vanilla, and sugar. Then you fold in the dry ingredients and finally in go the walnuts.

Katharine Hepburns Walnut Brownies

These brownies do have a lot of walnuts in them so if nuts aren’t your thing then it might fall flat without them. Likewise, if you’re looking for a cakey brownie these aren’t like that at all. No, these brownies are rich, never dry, and are chocked full of nuts.

To remove these from the pan you’ll need to line the pan before your pour in the batter. cut 2 strips of parchment paper and place them going different directions across a 9″ square pan. Make to leave some overlap over the sides as well. That way you can simply lift the brownies out once they’ve cooled after baking. I can remember the old days and having brownies always sticking in the corners. This simple trick eliminates that forever.

Katharine Hepburns Walnut Brownies

Enjoy these perfect brownies with some cold milk or a hot beverage for a real treat and a nod to Old Hollywood starlets. Even celebrities need their domestic comforts it would seem.

Makes 9 brownies

15m prep time

50m cook time

Rated 4.7 out of 5
Rated by 3 reviewers

Allergens: Eggs, Milk, Nuts

  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Line an 8”x8” baking dish with strips of parchment paper, each a few inches longer than needed to fit across the bottom and sides of the pan. Place parchment paper pieces crossing each other with some overlap on each end of the pieces.
  2. Preheat oven to 325˚F. In a medium bowl over a small saucepan of water melt butter and chocolate in double boiler. As soon as they’re melted remove them from heat. Whisk in sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. Fold in flour and salt. Finally fold in walnuts.
  3. Pour batter into lined pan and level off with the back of a spoon. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly (but not completely) clean.
  4. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. Cut into 9 equal squares and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

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