July 6, 2009

Lisa vs the Tribute to Katherine Hepburn Brownies

Remember the whole OMG-I-won-the-Tuesdays-with-Dorie-logo-competition post, at the end of which came the shattering realization that it meant I'd have to bake? From scratch? Well, last night was that night.

We all know how my baking efforts have turned out in the past - for example, this stunningly atrocious attempt at M&M cookies. So I'll be honest: I was pretty nervous going into this, especially since I have never - yes, never - baked brownies from scratch before. Ever. When it comes to baked goods, I hold Betty Crocker near and dear to my heart (the one exception is this incredible banana cake - if you haven't tried it, please do so - it will change your life, I swear). And now that the culinary goddesses reading this have finished fainting in horror, we'll proceed to the actual baking segment of today's post.

I decided to start with a cast of characters shot, ala The Pioneer Woman, to set the mood.

Why yes, that IS imitation vanilla and a wadded up bag of sugar. I never claimed to be good at this whole baking thing.

Only mine is considerably more cluttered and the picture quality grainier, thanks to my poor little point-and-shoot. And you don't see many glasses of wine in the PW's photos. I, on the other hand, find it an essential part of the baking process. Which may explain why my baking efforts often end in tragedy. Anyhoodle...

Step 1: whisk the flour, cinnamon and salt together.

So far, so good. I can whisk like a mofo.

Step 2: melt one stick butter in a saucepan over low heat.

Ah. Butter. Crapballs. This is when I realized that I'd forgotten to look up the USA <-> Australia conversion ratio for butter.

This thing is 250grams. What the hell is a stick? Luckily, onlineconversion came to my rescue and informed me that a stick is roughly this much of 250g:

More or less, anyway. Works for me.

Step 3: when the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee. Hmm. Another little problem there. I don't own anything that could be used for sifting. Well, there's the pasta strainer, but I don't think that's really what Dorie was looking for. So I just cheerfully dumped everything into the pan and hoped for the best.

I know you all are probably clutching your pearls for dear life by this point. Sorry about that. I have put a sifter on my List of Kitchen Doodads to Buy.

Step 4: after blending the mixture, then letting it cool for three minutes, beat in the eggs one at a time.

You've gotta love how cheerful Australian eggs are. Yes they came that way from the store, and yes, the majority of eggs sold here are brown. Go figure.

Step 5: stir in the sugar and vanilla without beating anything too vigorously, followed by the dry ingredients.


Step 6: stir in the nuts and chopped chocolate.

Ehhhhh...this was the point where I realized I hadn't chopped anything ahead of time, so I had to take a minute to do that.

I went a little heavy on the nuts. This is what happens when you don't measure before you chop, and then don't want to waste them. Measure first, kids. Do as I say, not as I do, m'kay? Also, do you like the way the camera is focused on the wine glass? I think my subconscious was trying to tell me something...

And then I realized I hadn't coarsely chopped the chocolate. Le sigh.

This is the Aussie version of bittersweet chocolate, apparently - it was either this or dark chocolate (which I loathe with every bone in my body), but there doesn't seem to be anything that's actually bittersweet available.

And this was the point when I realized that I had no idea how many grams it took to make 4 ounces. Back to onlineconversion!

PSA: it's about 18 of these squares, should you ever be stuck in Australia with nothing to do but bake brownies.

Hopefully this is "coarsely chopped":

Step 6 repeat: stir in the nuts and chopped chocolate.

I can stir like a mofo, too.

Step 7: scrape the batter into a pan. Scrape is right - like I said, I'd never made brownies from scratch and at this stage I was kind of freaking out because the batter was so thick. Betty Crocker's is like chocolate soup.

Yes I know it looks like tar. It's chocolate, I swear.

Step 8: Bake for 30 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust (I like my brownies on the chewy side, so I gave them an extra 5 minutes - the end result was just the way I like them). Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes. Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper and invert onto a cutting board.


Step 9: Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side.

OR cut into 12 squares because you're a glutton. Either way.

The end result? I liked them! They were flatter and denser than Betty Crocker's brownies, presumably because of the lack of a rising agent, but they were chewy and moist and crammed full of nuts (which I know many people dislike, but I'm a bit of a nut fiend). Altogether, not bad for my first brownies-from-scratch attempt!

Tribute-To-Katherine-Hepburn Brownies
From Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorrie Greenspan
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground instant coffee
  • 2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup broken or chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Getting Ready:
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
  3. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, if you’re using it, and salt together.
  4. Put the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and place the pan over low heat. When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee. Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it. Remove from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes.
  5. Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time. Next, stir in the sugar and vanilla (don’t beat anything too vigorously — you don’t want to add air to the batter), followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.) Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper and invert onto a cutting board. Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side.


  1. Great job Lisa! It's always exciting to make something you love from scratch. Oh and I have the same problem with the conversions every week :)

  2. thanks for the new logo (it's just fantastic!), and a great recipe pick! looks like you are a from-scratch brownie pro now. loved finding your blog, as i've recently returned to the states after spending a ocuple years in Oz myself.

  3. I'm jealous of your Aussie eggs.

  4. Wow -- great photos. And thanks for choosing the brownies. They were delicious!

  5. The logo is wonderful....the finished brownies look yummy...but most of all I want to THANK YOU for the huge smile and countless giggles! Just what the doctor ordered!

  6. These were delicious brownies - great pick! Your brownies look perfect, and your post was very entertaining - there is always a glass of wine involved in my baking as well, though sadly there are no eggs with smiley faces to be had here...

  7. They look great! Maybe there is more baking in your future? How can you resist with those smiley eggs?

    Thanks for the new logo - it looks fantastic!

  8. ::applause:: Well done for your first time making brownies from scratch!

    Thanks for our new logo. I love it :)

  9. Great new TWD logo, great pick and great job on the brownies! I love these and have made them 4 times in a week (for different occasions.) Great, simple brownies. (I love simple!) Seriously, thanks. Great, funny post, too.

  10. Great job - on the logo and the brownies. This is a great recipe to try for your first attmept at browies from scratch. We loved them, great recipe pick!

  11. I love your post!! I wish I had been there in the kitchen to help you bake, we would have had so much fun :) I love the smiley eggs, never seen them before!! congrats again on the logo contest and thanks for picking a recipe MH loved.

  12. First of all, I love the new logo! It's wonderful! You did a marvelous job with the brownies, especially for your first attempt! Those smiley eggs are way too cute. I wish eggs came with smiley faces in the US!

  13. You are hilarious! I love the smiley eggs. And your brownies look fantastic - the pecan in each perfect square. Thanks for the great pick!

  14. Thanks for the new logo - it’s fantastic! And thanks for choosing the brownies.
    Your brownies look delicious!

  15. I bet you'll never make boxed brownies again. Nice job - and wonderful logo as well! Nice touch with the pecans too!

  16. Great post and photos! We may be expecting you to blog and bake with us again. Thanks for the gorgeous logo!

  17. 1st - nice to meet you!
    2nd - congrats on the logo contest, it's fab!
    3 - you crack me up :) Love the cheerful eggs and your commentary. The brownies look wonderful!

  18. Personally, I will never EVER bake without red wine again. Ever.

    Great brownies, fun photos, welcome aboard.

  19. The logo is lovely, and the brownies look delicious! :)

  20. I love that fact that you loaded these with nuts and I'll bet they were great that way. For the record, I think that bittersweet chocolate = dark chocolate but I'm glad you chose the type that you like. Your post was enjoyable and maybe you'll join us on a regular basis now? I mean you already have the logo!!

  21. Great choice, Lisa! I adore these brownies. Congratulations on the logo. Love it! Love the cute smileys on the Aussie eggs. Too cute!

  22. Great post, Lisa! I enjoyed the brownies, and love the new logo. Oh, and I now I want eggs with smiley faces. =)

  23. I wish my eggs came with smileys on them! Congrats on your from scratch baking attempt - they look fabulous!

  24. Love the happy eggs! And putting the pecans on top of the batter was a nice touch, I never would have thought of that. Great job on the logo- thanks so much for this choice! I loved them!

  25. Congrats on baking brownies from scratch! You did great, and the brownies are to die for! I don't sift either (I put everything in a bowl and stir it up well with a fork before adding to the wet ingredients) so really no need to buy a sifter. Thanks for our wonderful new logo and for picking these brownies!

  26. Nice job! You should become a regular. OMG I LOVE your eggs!

  27. I love all your photos of the baking process. Hard to believe you've never made homemade brownies before -- these look like the work of a seasoned professional. Thanks for joining in!

  28. Woo hoo! Not bad for a newbie. Thanks for picking such a yummy treat!

  29. Double congratulations! First (and a little belatedly, sorry) on your WONDERFUL logo design -- it's so terrific. And next on your brownies. Now that you've done such a good job on them, what's next? I hope you'll bake every week. Maybe even twice a week!

  30. Congratulations on your first, and hopefully not last, batch of brownies from scratch. Easy, right? They look fantastic, and so nicely garnished! Also, great job on the new logo. I love it. I am so glad you took on the baking challenge; I hope it won't be your last.

  31. lmao your eggs seriously have smiles on them?? I studied in Ireland for four months, so I got used to brown eggs not being refrigerated. No faces though. Actually makes you want to not eat eggs...

    Great job baking from scratch! Are you convinced to join the group permanently yet? ;)

    btw love the Paris idea with the logo

  32. Fantastic job on your 'first' brownies. They look great.

    And thanks for the new logo. It is awesome.

  33. Three things: A) LOVE the new logo, B) Great choice for this week and C) LOVE the post. You've got a great writing style! :)

  34. The new logo is great -- congrats on winning the contest!! And thanks for making the recipe choice for this week -- looks like you did a great job on the brownies!! :) I love your writing style!!

    And I just *love* the smiley-face eggs -- they are awesome!!

  35. Great pick, and I'm a nut fiend myself!

  36. I can't wait to add your TWD logo to my blog! You did a really terrific job of it.
    I totally thought you had drawn those smiley faces on your eggs! Way too cute!
    Love your post, it's so fun! Thanks for the pick, it was a fairly easy recipe with really outstanding results!

  37. Wow, that's so cool that you guys get smiley-face on your eggs. Thanks for designing such an awesome logo for us!

  38. good job on your first scratch brownies! they look great. i love the new twd logo too :)

  39. You did great and the new logo is awesome! I wondered from the first picture if you made the smiley eggs. That's cute that they come that way. I loved your whole pecans on top of the brownies and think you did a fabulous job!

  40. These look absolutely fantastic! Great job!

  41. Perfect Brownies and perfect logo! I loved how you placed the pecan on each one..they are so good looking!

  42. Thank-you for such an awesome logo and recipe pick!
    I've been wanting to make these brownies!!!

  43. Love the brownies and the new logo! Great job!!

  44. Oh how I wish your Oz was closer to my Oz (mine is clearly of the "wizard of" variety, lol) so I could have wine & brownies w/you... :)

    P.S: I owe you a surprise present... it's coming... ;)


  45. Great job on the recipe pick! I also LOVE the logo! Congratulations!

  46. I absolutely love those smiley face eggs. I think your cooking post was fabulous, and I hope you continue to do more cooking/baking.

  47. Great job on both the logo and the brownies! I really enjoyed your selection and I hope you'll bake with us again!

  48. First off, I love the logo you designed--great job! Secondly, this was a fab recipe choice, thanks for a wonderful pick!

  49. Congrats! Your first time is a success. You're a natural :)

    The brownies look fantastic.

  50. These look so yummy. I love coffee & cinnamon flavors with chocolate and absolutely must have nuts in my brownies!

  51. This is the best porn site ever!


  52. pssttt... It is KathArine Hepburn = ) I was named after her.

  53. I'm also a Katharine! I made these as my first attempt at a Dorrie Greenspan recipe:

    they were so good I had to make them twice, as I ate almost all of the first batch... The second was even better :)

  54. I've been looking for where to find this recipe, it was hard to find! I just clicked and clicked until I ended up here and scrolled down, only to look at your picture of ingredients with everything looking all too familiar! I totally missed what your blog was called, Surving Oz, duh. No wonder you have the same Nestle cocoa, smiley eggs, and Woolworth's Select and Homebrand ingredients I do... Have I been to this blog before? Something about it is strangely familiar.

    Anyway, I'm an American Surviving Oz too.


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