08 April 2009

Luscious Chocolate Desserts

I love chocolate. Not a shocking revelation. I am pretty sure I would eat cardboard if it was coated in a 60% Valharona. I am always hunting for chocolate cookbooks.

Ironically, the best book on chocolate is not a cookbook at all, but Sophie Coe’s, The True History of Chocolate. Coe died of cancer before finishing her book on chocolate which was eventually completed by her husband, Michael. Coe was a brilliant food historian whose legacy lives on at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies' Arthur & Elisabeth Schlesinger Library, which holds her extensive culinary library.

For a great general chocolate cookbook, you can’t stray too far from Lori Longbotham’s Luscious Chocolate Desserts. The book is full of great photos and general recipes for every kind of chocolate desert from drinks to brownies, ice cream to cakes, cookies and candies and sauces and pies oh my! The recipes are good, they are easy and they appear accomplished. All you need is a kitchen and great chocolate. A few utensils are needed but nothing you don’t have.

Katharine Hepburn loved chocolate. She often contributed recipes to magazines with her favorite confections. On different occasions, Hepburn gave different recipes for her brownies. These brownies appeared in Family Circle.

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan

Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of about 1 1/2 inches of nearly simmering water, whisking until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat, add the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and whisk until well blended. Stir in the walnuts. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.

Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out sticky, with just a few crumbs clinging to it, but is not wet; do not overbake.

Cool completely in the pan or on a wire rack. Chill if you have the time, then cut into 9 brownies.

Years ago, Katharine Hepburn intervened in the life of Heather Henderson. Henderson wanted to quit her studies at Bryn Mawr. Hepburn invited both the young woman and her father to tea for brownies and a lecture on the importance of education. Years later, Ms. Henderson reminisced about the actress, sharing Hepburn rules for living:

1. Never quit

2. Be yourself

3. Don't put too much flour in your brownies

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