Has there ever been a Hollywood figure more confident, inspiring, or fiercely original than Katharine Hepburn?
The answer is no.
“Cold sober, I find myself absolutely fascinating.”
Hepburn announced in 1973 on the Dick Cavett show. Even now—almost two decades after her passing—the rest of the world seems to agree with Kate’s succinct and honest assessment of herself.
A Fascinating Woman
Katharine Hepburn is absolutely fascinating. The daughter of forward thinking parents who encouraged Kate to “paddle her own canoe,” Hepburn was a dreamer with a boundless supply of confidence and a zest for life that was nothing short of extraordinary. Over the course of her sixty-plus year career, Hepburn did it all: movies, Shakespeare, Greek Tragedy, Broadway musicals. In the process, she won four Academy Awards for Best Actress—a record still unmatched today—changed women’s fashion with her penchant for pants, prized her independence, and proved that if we just “keep a-going,” as Kate liked to say, we can quite literally accomplish anything.
From the time I read my first Hepburn biography in third grade, she’s been a great inspiration in my life. I even wrote my Capstone paper at University on her. Kate’s example has lifted me through hard times, and made me appreciate the good times even more.
The Brownie Expert of Hollywood
But her distinguished acting career and passion for life aren’t the only things Katharine Hepburn is famous for.
Kate’s family brownie recipe was legendary within the Hollywood community of her time.
And according to friends like director George Cukor, almost as impressive as Kate’s delicious brownie recipe was her ability to eat a pan of those brownies by herself in a single sitting. Without losing her trim figure, no less.
Katharine Hepburn Brownies: The Recipe Goes Public
Kate kept the famous recipe [aff. link] pretty much under wraps until 1983, when a grocery store buddy she made over the years asked Kate to give his daughter, Heather, some words of advice. It seems Heather, a student at Bryn Mawr, had lost all scholastic motivation, and planned to drop out before earning her degree.
No doubt, this reminded Kate of her own difficult time at Bryn Mawr, from which she graduated in 1928.
So what did Kate do? Why, she called Heather up!
As Heather remembered,
“At 7:30 the next morning, the phone woke me up. I answered it and heard that famous voice, crackling with command. ‘Is this the young woman who wants to quit Bryn Mawr?’ I said it was. ‘What a damn stupid thing to do!’ she snapped. She went on to give me a lively lecture, the gist of which was that I had to finish my studies and get my degree, and after that I could do what I wanted to do. There was no arguing with her imperiousness. Then she said she wanted to meet us for tea.”
On the day of the tea party, further conversation with Kate proved the inspiration Heather needed, and she did graduate. Heather and her father were even invited for subsequent visits to Kate’s home. On one of those visits, Heather’s father brought Kate some of his homemade brownies.
“’Too much flour!’ Kate declared. She then rattled off her own recipe, which he hastily wrote down. ‘And don’t over-bake them! They should be moist, not cakey!’”
Sage brownie advice from Katharine Hepburn, the Brownie Expert of Hollywood, herself.
My Spin on Kate's Recipe
Now, Kate would probably give me a talking to for saying this, but in my experience, brownies need flour. Otherwise, you’ll end up with chocolate mush that’s near impossible to get out of the pan.
I speak from experience.
So, inspired by Kate’s family brownie recipe, which is very low on flour and can be difficult to bake just right, I’ve created a fool-proof brownie recipe in honor of Katharine Hepburn.
I’ve played with chocolate ratios, added salt and a leavener, and upped the flour content from the Hepburn recipe. The resulting brownie is true to the nearly flourless taste of Kate’s family recipe, but easy enough for even the most novice of bakers to make successfully, and with delicious results.
Make My Katharine Hepburn Brownies!
My Katharine Hepburn Brownies
For the wet ingredients:
- ½ cup butter
- 2 oz baking chocolate, unsweetened
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the dry ingredients:
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup flour
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Add the butter and chocolate to a medium-sized saucepan. Turn the heat to medium-low, and melt the chocolate and the butter, stirring consistently with a whisk.
- Once the chocolate and butter have melted and come together into one smooth mixture, take the saucepan off the heat, and whisk in the vanilla. Now whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth, and allow the mixture to cool for five minutes.
Add the sugar and eggs
- Whisk the sugar into the chocolate mixture, followed by the eggs. Keep whisking until you have a smooth, shiny mixture.
Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips
- Now add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until just combined, then add in the chocolate chips. Gently fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
Bake the brownies
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease an 8x8 inch glass baking dish. If you want to make it really easy to slice the brownies after baking, line the baking dish with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper.
- Pour the brownie batter evenly into the baking dish.
- Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out mostly clean.
Let the brownies cool, and enjoy!
- Let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. As there is so little flour in the brownies, this is a very important step, so don’t skip it!
- Once the brownies have cooled for at least 30 minutes, slice into squares, and enjoy!