Don’t Overbake Them, Brownies!

Question: Who lives by these rules?
1. Never quit.
2. Be yourself.
3. Don’t put too much flour in your brownies.

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Brownie Walnut Bars.

My father was invited to visit her a few times after that. Once, he had heard that she was recovering from a serious car accident, and he stopped by to drop off a package of homemade brownies and a get-well note. To his surprise, he was ushered in and invited into her boudoir, where she greeted him in her nightgown. She sampled his brownies.

“Too much flour!” she declared. She then rattled off her own recipe, which he hastily wrote down.

“And don’t overbake them! They should be moist, not cakey!”

~ Heather Henderson
St. Paul, Minn.

Answer: Why, it’s Katharine Hepburn, of course!

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If using semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate instead of cocoa powder, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat, add broken-up chocolate and cover pan until chocolate is melted, about 5-10 minutes.

KATHARINE HEPBURN’S BROWNIES
½ cup Cocoa
1 stick Butter
2 Eggs
1 cup Sugar
¼ cup Flour
1 cup broken-up Walnuts or Pecans
1 teaspoon Vanilla
pinch of Salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add sugar, flour, nuts, vanilla and salt. Pour into a greased 8×8 square pan. Bake 40 minutes. ”Don’t overbake!” They should be gooey. Let cool (an essential step) and cut into bars.

It was always drummed into me that cooking is an art and baking is science, so I used to be very afraid of not getting everything of the carefully measured amounts into the bowl. These days, I am less rigid and more forgiving. I tried my hands at Ms. Hepburn’s recipe last night and of course, I did not follow the recipe EXACTLY but that’s life, isn’t it? In order to keep my sanity, I make do with what I have and no longer sweat the small stuff!

Here’s What I Did:
Preheat oven to 180°C.
I have Van Houten’s Cocoa Powder that is suitable for baking and drinking so I used that.

I know most recipes call for unsalted butter but I have Salted Lurpak in my fridge so I used that, 125g. Hmmm… maybe more? I’d cut the butter according to the “20g markings” on the wrapper and try to estimate 5g by guesstimating ¼ of the tiny space in between the “20” lines. So now you know, I don’t have a food scale!

The eggs I used are 57g each.

I used Prima’s Plain Flour.

I used Walnuts, chopped coarsely.

I only had artificial Vanilla, so that’ll do.

I used Castor Sugar and ¼ teaspoon Salt.

I bungled up on the mixing method. While measuring the dry ingredients, instead of putting the cocoa into the cooled-down melted butter, I had put everything (cocoa powder, flour, sugar, salt) into a big bowl. So I tried to salvage by scooping a few tablespoons of the dry mixture into the melted butter, stir and then whisk the eggs (one at a time) into it. Once the wet batter is smooth, I pour them into the dry mixture and fold till well combined. Add the chopped walnuts and pour the batter into 8×8 inch baking pan (mine was glass) lined with buttered aluminium foil. Put it into the pre-heated oven and baked for 25 minutes. I did the skewer test in the middle of the cake and it came out a “passable” moist. Since Ms. Hepburn’s recipe called for 40 minutes, I decided to leave it in the oven for another 5 minutes (my total bake time 30 minutes). Took out the brownie and let cool in the baking glass.

It is said that if you like chewy fudgy brownies, then they should be allowed to “mature” and it is best to bake them during midweek for weekend’s consumption. I was eager to test this theory. I cut some of the brownie (on the day of baking) and ate with Haagen Daz’s Belgium Chocolate ice cream. It tasted like warm gooey chocolate cake with sharp crust that can hurt your upper palate if you try to stuff a medium-sized chunk into your mouth.

I wrapped the remainder slab in the aluminium foil that it was baked in and kept it in a cool place in the kitchen, away from direct sunlight and did not refrigerate them since brownies must sit for some time before they reach their potential fudgy peak.

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Brownies must sit, at least overnight (better 2+ days), in order for them to reach their potential fudgy peak!

I couldn’t resist and cut the rest of it today, less than 24 hours. It was moist, chewy and fudgy! I’m sold! The theory is no longer a myth. Brownies should NOT be eaten fresh!

Happy baking, eating and bonding! 🙂

Article and Recipe Credit: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/06/nyregion/l-straight-talk-from-miss-hepburn-plus-the-actress-s-own-brownie-recipe-400831.html

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