Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies


I am the eldest child (well, at least chronologically). Not an easy task. As the eldest, you are the experimental child. Your parents really have NO clue what to do with a baby, a toddler, a child, a tween, and (EEK!) a teenager.

When you get to the youngest child – especially if there is a gaggle of children – that youngest child can pretty much juggle knives and it’s okay.

Not convinced? Neither was Sandro. Our conversation sounded a bit like this:

Me: “when I was your age …”
Sandro: (eye rolling)
Me: “Yes, I know, I was never your age. But, when I was, I had a midnight curfew!”
Sandro: “What!?”
Me: “Not that I ever came home on time, and was grounded constantly, but yes, at 21 I had a midnight curfew.”

I couldn’t go away for a weekend with friends, just miles away, without a lot of guff. Sandro is going to CANCUN with friends. Le sigh.

On the other hand, I never had hand-me-downs. And while knife juggling and staying out late wasn’t allowed, my parents’ life fit around my schedule, as opposed to all those that follow whose every move has to really fit around everyone else’s schedules.  Also, my parents let me try any activity that tickled my fancy. After a bunch-o kids, you already know when certain activities will last about 45 seconds before they flit on to something else and you become more hesitant to sign that permission slip.

What does this have to do with brownies, you may ask. Absolutely NOTHING!

Sandro Pan

Oh, that ^ handsome fella is Sandro. And when I said I felt like baking something and then said brownies, his face lit up. So, really how could I refuse! What brownies to make? I had wanted to try these brownies since first seeing them in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours. This was the perfect opportunity.  As always happens, Sandro disappeared while I was getting ready to bake these brownies and he only re-emerged from his room once he smelled the just out of the oven brownies!

These are really chocolatey. Nice crisp top and a gooey inside. They’re made in one pot – another BIG plus. Just pay attention to the part about BUTTERING the baking pan (I didn’t) and letting them cool completely before cutting (Sandro didn’t). They get better and richer as they sit. These definitely go into the brownie rotation!

  • ½ C cocoa or 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 C roughly chopped walnuts or pecans

NOTE: Not having baker’s chocolate and being far TOO lazy to go out, I opted for the cocoa.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Ingredient Pan

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.

Ready to bake

Pour into a well buttered 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

NOTE: SEE THOSE WORDS … WELL BUTTERED!? I am just seeing them NOW! They were a bit difficult getting out of the baking pan.


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 dish.

NOTE: Ah, the other problem with getting them out was that other foreign word … COOL!

Candied Red Pepper

So, as I am going through email after email and recipe after recipe, trying to sift through everything I’ve missed with my computer debacle I came across a recipe for Churasco Steak with Candied Red Pepper Chimichurri.

Now this is a dish right up my fella’s alley. What could possibly be better than a man, a steak and a grill? Especially when HE mans the grill!  Well, vino, definitely copious amounts of vino.  Add to that combination, this recipe for Candied Red Pepper Chimichurri, grilled potato planks and a big tomato and arugula salad, and you have the makings of a lovely evening. You can find the compete recipe HERE.

When I saw the full recipe on Kitchen Daily, there was no recipe for the candied red peppers, nor did anyone from Kitchen Daily answer my email or my request on Facebook (can you say disappointing?). I turned to my From the Bookshelf buddies on Facebook and Angie from Angie’s Big Love of Food found this recipe for me! I am forever in her debt!

After a little research, and it turns out, this entire recipe, steak and all, is included in Lorena Garcia’s great book New Latin Classics.

I must admit, I was nervous about this recipe while the peppers were cooking. The smell of boiling vinegar and sugar, the spices didn’t seem too appetizing, and this was confirmed by a wrinkled nose and the question, “What smells funny?’ 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise

Cutting peppers

Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Everything into the pot

Add the bell peppers, garlic, cinnamon stick, and star anise and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the bell pepper strips are glazed, candied, and somewhat transparent, about 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

Transfer the bell peppers and liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a month.

Makes 1/2 cup.