Tuesday, July 7, 2009

TWD: Tribute-to-Katharine Hepburn-Brownies

Lisa of Surviving Oz chose this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, Tribute-to-Katharine Hepburn brownies. Katharine Hepburn, screen legend . . .

Katharine Hepburn

. . . 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 Outrageously Coffeeish Brownies. I wanted the coffee to enhance the chocolate flavor, but I did not want to be able to taste coffee.

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!

54 comments:

dharmagirl said...

oh, that's a bummer about the underbaked underside. ugh.

i was doubtful about the cinnamon too. it definitely left its mark on the chocolate, though it wasn't as annoying as in some of the other choco-cinn concoctions we've made.

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Well, after reading your lovely post, I feel terrible that I didn't even reference Katharine (or Heather either for that matter) and these brownies were a tribute to her. Maybe with a little sugar, butter, and/or chocolate I'll be able to recover from this gaffe. And great save on your part; a year ago you would have hung your head, now you know to twice-bake the lot. Good job, you!

Megan said...

What do you mean, underbaked? They look perfect!

Leslie said...

I could have put them back in the oven? Duh! I put them in the fridge, let them solidify and called it good. The papery thing was a little hard to judge (I'm such a maniac that I was wondering about degrees of papery-ness). They do look great, so of course you held your head high!

Debinhawaii said...

I am a pro at underbaking brownies so I would have done the same thing. The end result looks delicious though so I am sure they were just fine!

mike said...

You're too hard on yourself - they look great! Some brownies are supposed to be fudgy and gooey. Just tell people they're supposed to be eaten with a spoon! Better yet, serve them in a bowl with some ice cream - no one will know. Nice job - I'm sure Katharine would approve!

Clivia said...

Great save! I'm sure they tasted wonderful.

Peggy said...

I told you these brownies were gooey! :) I made them again and I still didn't think they were the best ever brownies. But good save on yours!

Melissa said...

Mine were a bit more gooey than I think Dorie intended. Seems like the cooking time must have been off. At least you were able to salvage them and (sort of) enjoy them! Let's hope for better luck next week!

Trupti said...

nice post.

brownies looks delicious.

Trupti
Fashion Deals For Less

Maria said...

I love a gooey brownie:)

nick said...

I heard a bunch of people had a problem with the raw brownies-ness at the end of the recommended time. I'm glad that re-baking saved, a.k.a. not ruined, them for you!

PS I actually liked the cinnamon in here, though in general I agree with you that chocolate + cinnamon = YUCK.

Flourchild said...

You did your best and I think they look moist and yummy! I liked this recipe and didn't have any trouble! My kids loved them.

Anne said...

I think we made the same brownies, haha, but I wasn't smart enough to rebake mine. Oh well, like you said, butter/sugar/chocolate tastes good in just about any form! :)

Teanna said...

Hahahahah she would not have quit school after these brownies! Hahaha! And I totally am with you on the videos... I always want to watch a video of egg whites being whipped to "soft peaks with a glossy finish".

I never know when to stop!

myfamousrecipe said...

Way to go -- just throw them back in for more baking time and nobody will know the difference. They look delicious. I'm with you on the "no nuts, no cinnamon" in brownies. Straight chocolate always works best for me!

Erin said...

I would have no problem eating those brownies with a spoon. In fact it sounds amazingly good to me. I'm glad to know everything worked out in the end!

Hornedfroggy said...

They look wonderful to me... raw or not. :)

Di said...

Good save! I hate when recipes don't work out the way they should. My brownies were okay, but I just tried making the Dimply Plum Cake again and it was disaster again. A different sort of disaster than last time, but still no good.

Jennifer said...

Looks you made quite the save there! Your brownies look heavenly!!!

Kayte said...

Well, you didn't offend Katharine as who knows if she really would have gone with these...they aren't really her recipe, so I think you are free in clear. I could not tell what you were all talking about with the gooey bit and the divot check, etc., what the heck do I know about chocolate and I certainly wasn't going to taste it to find any of that out. So, I figured I would go with the papery crust top that Dorie mentioned and that would be my guide, as that is my guide on all the brownies I have made over the years...legions of them because these guys are brownie-loving fools here. So, the papery crust did not start appearing until 45 minutes into baking time, I left them in another five and when they were cut, they were moist and gooey kind of, but not raw by any means, and they were immediately declared "absolutely delicious, can you make some more?" One 8 x 8 pan is just not sufficient in these parts. Yours looks delightful and it's good you held your head high!

Jules Someone said...

The baking time did mess with a few people. Nice recovery, though! Anything made with butter, sugar, and chocolate is good.

SUGAR B said...

Awww too bad it didn't work out with the baking part. Send them my way .. I will eat it up for you!

TeaLady said...

But yours didn't stick to the paper like mine, so that's a plus. And I had to bake mine more, too.

And in the end they were great, weren't they. Nice job.

And thanks for stopping by.

Kim said...

I'll have to write down "chocolate+cinnamon=just plain wrong" in my kitchen so I don't make that mistake again. I must agree. Despite baking mishaps your brownies look wonderful.

Katrina said...

Those look perfect for slapping in a bowl with some ice cream!
Seriously, great post, sorry about the underdoneness. So weird. I went a little crazy this week and made these 4 times. Each time I only baked them 25 minutes to perfection. They were awesome. They each got some good chillin' time in the fridge which I'm now convinced all brownies need (I haven't always done that). These are my new favorite go-to brownie. I really think that all ovens are just different. At least that's what I've concluded as we bake our way through "the" book!
Still, you redeemed the goo and looks like alls well! ;)

Lauryn said...

well it sounds like it all worked out in the end, and that is all that matters!! And its true -- even if get messed up there is no way these can be bad!!!

isabelle said...

They look wonderful! I'm glad to know everything worked out in the end!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Like you said, chocolate + butter + sugar = how bad could it be? and I loved the sentiment about the video of other bakers. I have sat in my kitchen so many times wondering what "elastic" or "light" or "frothy" or "satiny" really looked like. I need an in home tutorial.

Natashya said...

I have read a few brownie stories today, and have to say that you are in good company. I think the fault actually lies in the instructions this time.
Regardless, they look great and I am happy you could salvage the brownie goodness.

Audrey said...

Somehow I expected that a picture of Miss H would be nicer than a picture of my brownies...but you got BOTH right! I love that you showed us your delicately moist brownies...and I'm glad you were proud of them (deservedly so!) in the end!

Cakelaw said...

You have every reason to hold your head eye - these are chocolatey good, and I'd happily have one (or a few ...)

jillbert said...

I think you made a good save by rebaking. I've been having luck with smaller pans it seems like it's easier to bake things evenly using a smaller pan. But I suppose it's easier to overbake them in a smaller pan too!

Madam Chow said...

You make me laugh every time I read your blog. Glad the re-baking worked for you. I don't think the nuts would have made a difference, so don't feel bad.

Mary Ann said...

I love the part about the swaddling thing. I so understand you.
I agree also that how can anyone complain about chocolate, butter and sugar? I am sure they were delicious.
That is so funny that you made those kebabs. I am going to have to make pom molasses again and try them myself.

farah said...

I only took mine out when i did the knife test. I like mine gooey but not too gooey. Good job for saving them and they look delicious!

AmyRuth said...

Cathy, I totally didn't know what to do with our first born (son) either. My husband told me they come with their own set of instructions. duh I couldn't find them. It took me two more to figure it out. The third one is the most laid back and he is Corbin my photographer. My kids grew up eating Martha White brownie mix. (See how lucky your kids are to have your wonderful cooking.) Always under baked and gooey. he he Now they like mixes better than scratch Go figure. I loved this brownie recipe in all its grandeur. Ah well. That's me. You do remember its about what floats your boat.
AmyRuth

Barbara Bakes said...

LOL - I loved your post! Good for you for just popping them back in and cooking them more and then not obsessing over them!

vibi said...

Okay, besides the fact that your brownies look super moist and yummy, I have to say... I have a hard time taken this image of you with a net on your head, serving green candied ice cream to an unhappy brat! LOL LOL

But I too have an anecdote to tell you, because you are just too nice... going out of your way to please even the unhappiest kid!

For many generations my family was in the ice cream businnes, and in the old days when people weren't looking to only make money all the time, I guess... it was known that when people came to my grand-father's ice cream parlor and ordered a cone, you'd get a gum ball at the bottom of the cone, as a surprise for the pleasure to last longer! Ain't that cool? Some kids just enjoyed it so much, they'd bite the botton of the cone fisrt off!

LOL enough blabbing... you and I... it would be hell if we'd got together! LOL

Jennifer said...

I deal with that same issue, how much beating/whisking is enough, and tend to go overboard for fear of not doing it "enough" about half the time, the other half of the time I do the opposite! I'm hoping that with more experience I'll just be able to judge.

I drastically lowered the amount of coffee, too, maybe it's because I'm not a coffee drinker, but I can usually really pick up the coffee taste otherwise.

Katherine Aucoin said...

Your brownies look like they came out terrific; they don't look under baked at all. I admire Katharine Hepburn on so many levels she's up there with Lauren Becall.

The Blonde Duck said...

Oh my God. That happened to me when I made my dad a pecan pie for Father's Day. He was tap dancing around demanding to go to the shooting range and I pulled them out at the approximate time, when it wasn't done at all. I had to re-bake it later (after I discovered it was too gooey) and finally broil the sucker before it carmelized--at which point my dad had tap danced his way home.

Pamela said...

Well, I'm glad you were able to save them and serve them up at the bash you went to. They look pretty good to me, though!

Steph said...

I've done the bake, cool, rebake thing before. I wish there were video instructions too. It's so hard to tell when to stop whipping sometimes. Good save on the brownies!

Tracey said...

Sounds like we did almost the same thing with this recipe - I also left out the cinnamon and cut back on the coffee. I'm glad the rebake worked for you. In the past I haven't had great luck with it. I had a hard time telling when these were done too. I just went with 30 minutes, at which point they were really gooey but not raw. Shane's coworkers liked them but they weren't my thing.

Bridgett said...

I love a good gooey brownie so I would be happy if mine were a bit undercooked. I am strange that way though! I used the be the weird one who would eat most of my moms brownie batter before it got into the oven then act like I didn't know what happened to it all! I will have to give these a try.

Lady Baker said...

great save, Cath! Though I would have eaten them anyway..maybe with a dabble of ice cream on the side! :)

Pam said...

I always seem to underbake brownies...it looks like yours were great after you baked them for a bit longer.

Jacque said...

Hey, maybe you're on to something... biscotti brownies!

I'm glad they turned out after the first underdone version. Way to persevere (and no, I don't know how to spell that word, and yes, I'm to lazy to look it up, LOL.

Jessica said...

I bet twice-baked was even better! If it works for potatoes, I see no reason why it can't work for brownies.

spike. said...

nice save! I probably would have just pouted about the situation- nobody would want to videotape me in the kitchen!

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