Saturday, 3 October 2009

How to make Katherine Hepburn Brownies whilst looking like an African Queen

Katherine Hepburn’s cheekbones, like her acting career, are incredible: gravity defying and razor sharp.

Stemming from a union of a suffragette and urologist with a lineage tracing back to Louis IX of France (we need more such unions), Hepburn’s glamorous masculine-feminine look has graced many a magazine ‘look book’ whenever aviator style (cue still from Christopher Strong), high-waisted masculine tailoring or the safari-look (cue the de rigueur heading The African Queen ) are in Fashyyyyoon.

As with most Hollywood Golden Age BIG STAR STORIES, footnotes in Hepburn’s illustrious career refer back to the casting of Gone With The Wind ( although a favourite, she persuaded the director to look for someone more obviously sexy) and her stint as “box office poison” (a term coined to describe big productions with big stars which flopped with audiences – Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich were brushed with a similar stroke at some point too).

I write of Katherine the Great now because I am watching The African Queen on the box. A quick look through wiki reveals that Hepburn actually wrote a book which sounds like a good read titled The Making of The African Queen: Or, How I Went to Africa With Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind.

Now at this stage of this piece, I could talk about where to get the best wide-legged trousers from the high-street, or how to re-create that 1940's hairstyle, but I will give you something better: Katherine Hepburn’s Brownie Recipe, because if you are going to wear Hepburn style wide-legged trousers instead of skinny jeans, you might as well indulge a little. The story goes that gossip columnist Liz Smith got the recipe from the actress to publish in her column.

Ring any bells Diana ;-)

How to Make Katherine Hepburn Brownies whilst looking like an African Queen

  • Loose unbuttoned man's shirt
  • Hair curlers and peep-toe leopard print bedroom mules
  • A butter wouldn't-melt-in-my-oven attitude
  • 8 tablespoons of butter (preferably unsalted)
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate – coarsely chopped (Valhrona would take this recipe to the next level)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecan nuts

1. Walk to kitchen wearing leopard print peep toe mules and hair in curlers.

2. Melt the chopped butter and chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted together, take the bowl off the heat.

3. Stir 1 cup of sugar into the bowl, then add vanilla, followed by the 2 Mitchell Brother heads - I mean eggs, and beat the mixture well.

4. Finish preparation by stirring in the flour, salt and the walnuts.

4. Bake the brownies in a buttered and floured 8-inch-square pan at 325°F for about 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Whilst brownies are baking, remove curlers and recreate the Hepburn quiff with curby grips and a bit of good old-fashioned imagination.


  1. Much like Alice B. Toklas's recipe. (She left out peep-toes, slapped on a head-wrap, and shoveled in weed with the walnuts.) ((((( ;-))
    Why do we think Gertie Stein wrote that way?

  2. While you're waiting for the Hepburn brownies to come out of the oven, log onto http;//
    The Katharine Hepburn Theater Cultural Arts Center in Hepburn's beloved seaside town of Old Saybrook, CT just opened in September.
    As a member of the board of trustees, we'd love it if you'd link to us on your site.
    Come see what we're all about.

  3. Dear Anonymous and Ann,

    Many thanks for leaving your comments - much appreciated and also most insightful.
    ANONYMOUS - It would be great to hear more from you about this Alice B and Gertie Stein
    And ANN, I have had a look at the cultural centre and wish you all the best with the new project. Will add a link very soon - watch this space


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