What is the first thing my girl usually asks for when coming home to visit? Yep… brownies! (Well, at least in the dessert category.) Now there are about a zillion recipes for brownies, but in our family the winner is undoubtedly Cream Cheese Brownies. The runner up would be Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies. Let’s start with the winner!

Years ago, while living in Colorado, I was taking riding lessons from a young woman from Pennsylvania named Barb Skelly. How brownies came to be mixed with the art of horsemanship I can’t remember. Perhaps she gave me a treat for staying in the saddle. At any rate, it was love at first bite. It wasn’t easy to get her to share her secret family recipe, but one day she blessed me with this bit of heaven. I believe it originally called for only 3 oz of cream cheese (they used to sell 3 oz packages) but that wasn’t nearly enough. I may have given up riding, but I’ve not given up Brownies.

Cream Cheese Brownies

  • Melt together and let cool 1½ squares of unsweetened chocolate and ½ cup of unsalted butter
  • Mix and set aside: 8 oz cream cheese, 1 egg, and ½ cup raw sugar
  • Stir together: 2 cups unbleached flour, 2 cups raw sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Mix together: ¾ cup water, ½ cup sour cream and 2 eggs
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing well
  • Pour into a buttered and lightly floured 9×13 pan. Drop cream cheese mixture over top by tablespoonfuls and pull a knife through to marble the cheese through the chocolate batter
  • Sprinkle over the top: 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until done. Cool and refrigerate before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

And in second place we have Katharine Hepburn Brownies!

This recipe originally was published in Gourmet Magazine in a column written by Laurie Colwin. Sadly, she died of heart failure in her sleep at age 48 in 1992. Laurie Colwin’s books are still in print and I believe we have them in our family collection of cookbooks. She wrote: “The best recipe I have for brownies comes from a friend who got it from a magazine article about Katharine Hepburn. It is, apparently, her family’s recipe. If there were no other reason to admire Katharine Hepburn, this pan of brownies would be enough to make you worship her.”

  1. Melt together 1 stick butter and 2 squares unsweetened chocolate and take the saucepan off the heat.
  2. Stir in 1 cup sugar, add 2 eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and beat the mixture well.
  3. Stir in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. (In the original recipe, 1 cup chopped walnuts is added here as well.)
  4. Bake the brownies in a buttered and floured 8-inch-square pan at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes.

The article continued: “You can cut these brownies into squares, once they have cooled, and eat them out of the pan, but it is so much nicer to pile them on a fancy plate, from which people are going to eat them with their hands anyway. If you want to smarten up your act you can put a square of brownie on a plate with a little blob of crème fraiche and a scattering of shaved chocolate.”

I still miss Laurie Colwin…


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