It is August, the Sunday of months. A time when you’re meant to be relaxing, but you’re excruciatingly aware of everything that’s coming up soon (school starting, people coming back from vacation, Things Having to Get Done, etc).
(January’s Monday (obviously), and February’s Tuesday, because it’s not Monday but you can’t believe it’s somehow this early in the week/year still (Tuesdays are bullshit.) Saturday is the only real day of rest in my book, and it’s both the week between Christmas and New Year’s when time doesn’t exist, and also July. But we’re getting into the weeds here.)
My big point is, I’m taking August off. (I know it’s already August. Scheduling is my passion. Shut up.)
I’m taking August off like that weird French stereotype in the second new Muppets movie, which I never understood because the joke seems to be that he… takes too much vacation? As though that’s not aspirational in the extreme?
I’ll see you guys in September, on the other side of a mid-pandemic cross-oceanic apartment transfer, which isn’t listed as an Olympic event but, in my opinion, should be. Have you guys been watching? There’s a kid from Doncaster who can taekwondo his foot into the back of another guy’s head while facing him. The human body is a miracle.
Until then, please enjoy these perfect brownies.
These are the only brownies I will ever make or be making in the future. These are the only brownies I have ever made that don’t have the word “cheesecake” in them somewhere. These are the only brownies I am interested in making.
These are the brownies that make me shake my head whenever the Bake-Off contestants make some kind of unholy Cherry Bakewell Brownie disaster (with FROSTING on it, for some ungodly reason.) These brownies are so damn easy, even APART from being developed by a true Hero and Inspiration.
They might have been the first thing I learned to make that wasn’t mac and cheese from a box, or maybe fairy cakes.
I made a double recipe of these in a 10-inch square cake pan and overcooked them slightly, which is why they’re, uh, together in the photos. Usually, these have a crackly candied lid under which is basically a chocolate lava duvet studded with walnuts that you pick apart with your hands like a little raccoon.
The fact that these have “sliced” into “shapes” is the exception, not the rule. These are usually Brownie Rubble (Barney’s wacky cousin who owns a bakery), and that’s just fine with me. Make yourself a pan and dig in.
See you in a month!
Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies
Adapted from the woman herself, via PBS
· 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker’s chocolate. You can substitute ½ cup cocoa, but melted chocolate works MUCH better. Cocoa powder is a paltry substitute when you can use actual melted chocolate.
· 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter. Yes.
· 1 cup sugar – These can err on the side of sweet, so if you don’t have baker’s chocolate and use bittersweet, do half the sugar and taste as you go because you don’t want them too sweet. Also, if you’re doubling the recipe, take the sugar down a smidge.
· 2 eggs
· 1/4 cup flour
· 1 teaspoon vanilla
· Pinch of salt
· 1 cup roughly chopped walnuts or pecans. I always say that nuts are optional, but they’re not here (Sorry Caroline). They contribute a beautiful contrast to the fudginess that takes these into Legendary territory.
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.
Pour into a well-buttered and floured 8-inch square baking pan.
Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
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. (Put the pan on your lap, put a spoon in the pan, put the spoon in your mouth.)