Chocolate Date Nut Bars

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Chocolate Date Nut Bars by twocarolines.com

These are the best breakfast treat/ energy bar/ snack your kids will actually eat / straight up chocolate dessert EVER!  You don’t officially bake them, however you do need to toast the oats and nuts, so there’s an oven involved, but they are conspicuously missing flour and sugar, which is something you’ll notice happens almost never times in my posts, and probably don’t get used to it.  But seriously, I love these too much not to share.   After I cut them into the above squares I cut many of those in half so I can have some smaller portions for when a little afternoon pick-me-up is needed, because an entire square is quite filling.  I especially love sharing these with Mom’s of new babies because I haven’t met a better nursing snack.  And who doesn’t love a treat of the chocolate variety that is still giving you fruity fiber from dates, whole grain oats, plus the satisfying protein of nuts?  I invite you to get creative with this recipe, my guess is they would taste great replacing pecans with cashews or even pistachios.

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 (heaping) cup pecans
1 cup slivered almonds (I usually use sliced which work great)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pitted dates chopped in half
1 1/3 cup dark chopped chocolate (chocolate chips work, but I love using decadent rich chocolate like this Scharffen Berger chocolate that has incredible flavor)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 and line 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Toast pecans on one and oats on the other rotating them a time or two.  I do this for about 10 minutes on the oats and 7 or so with the nuts because you only want them fragrant, not burnt.  The original recipe says to toast the almonds as well, but mine always burn so if I do put almonds in it’s only for a few minutes – the bars are fantastic even if your almonds aren’t toasted.
  2. Put the oats and the nuts into a large capacity food processor (save parchment). Let cool about 20 minutes then add the dates and salt and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Next add the chopped chocolate and vanilla and mix until all combined.  You may need to take a spatula and mix some of the dry into the chocolate here and there, but usually it all just comes together after a few long sessions in the food processor.
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    wrapped date nut bars by twocarolines.com

    Use the parchment from toasting nuts to line an 8×8 both ways so you can lift the ends up to easily deliver your bars.  If you don’t have parchment around it’s not that big a deal, just spray your 8×8 and they should come out pretty well.  Push your mixture into the pan pressing the top to make it all flat and uniform then put in the fridge for a good hour or so.  Once they are cold they are easy to cut into bars and I then wrap the bars individually with plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge until I need a perfect snack.  

 

Blueberry Lattice Pie

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If you want an easy and delicious pie recipe, this one’s for you! It is so easy to put together and has a big payoff in flavor and texture. It tastes like summer, sunshine and joy. Also, I think it probably has three to four of your daily servings of fruit—and this pie is so good—you could eat it all in one sitting. Now that I call a win-win.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1 tablespoon butter, diced
  • Turbinado sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over blueberries. Mix well. Line pie dish with one pie crust. Pour berry mixture into the crust, and dot with butter. Cut remaining pastry into 1/2-3/4 inch wide strips, and make lattice top. Crimp and flute edges. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on the top (A tip from my pie expert mama is to spritz the top of the crust with water to make the sugar stick more easily. Bake pie on lower shelf of oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. (If the crust edges start to get too brown after 30 minutes, cover with foil.)

-CK 1.0

S’mores Brownies

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S’mores Brownies by twocarolines.com

Summer and S’mores are MFEO – 💞and this dessert is such a perfect summertime treat, plus it’s easy and you don’t need a kitchen torch like you do for the s’mores cake I posted a few weeks ago.  If you want to make it super easy on yourself you could even use a brownie mix for your middle layer, but that seems silly to me when our recipe for Kristin’s homemade Brownies takes maybe 2 minutes more and is infinitely more delicious.  Either way, these are a guaranteed crowd pleaser for any summer soiree!

Graham Cracker crust:
18 full graham cracker sheets
1/3 c sugar
3/4 c melted butter

Brownie Layer:
1 cup butter (melted)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (NOT soda)
2 teaspoons vanilla
optional – 3/4 cup chocolate chips, chopped walnuts or other additions

Meringue Layer:
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

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S’mores brownie meringue by twocarolines.com

  1. To make the graham cracker crust, preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Butter a 9×13 inch pan and line with parchment paper.  Put graham crackers into a blender or food processor and mix until they are sandy crumbs then add sugar and butter mixing until combined.  Add mixture to the prepared pan and smooth with a dry measuring cup to create an even layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Clean mixer bowl for re-use and keep oven set to 350˚ to bake the brownie layer.
  2.  For the Brownie layer – mix sugars and butter until very well combined then add eggs one at a time until totally incorporated.  Next add salt then pile the cocoa, flour and baking powder all on top of your mixture and whisk until smooth.  Last add your vanilla and any additions (if using) until uniform, and spread on top of your graham cracker crust.
  3. Bake for anywhere from 25-30 minutes depending on how done you like your brownies.  If you enjoy a gooeyer texture opt for a shorter bake time, but go all the way if you like your brownies more done.
  4. To Make the Meringue Topping:  Set up a clean double boiler – I always use the metal bowl of my kitchenaid mixer on a pot of boiling water and it works perfect. When the water is simmering, add egg whites and sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes – you want them warm to the touch and smooth so you can tell the sugar is dissolved.   Put bowl back into your mixer, or if not using just transfer to a cool enough to touch bowl then, add the vanilla extract and cream of tartar. Whip (with the whisk attachment) on high for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mix starts to become stiff and glossy. You’ll know the mixture is ready when it will hold a stiff peak without deflating. Add topping to prepared brownies and smooth with the back of a wooden spoon, creating some peaks for decoration.
  5. To Brown Meringue:  If using a broiler, set oven rack about 8 inches below the flame and preheat for about 5 minutes. Add brownies and keep a close eye on them, adjusting the pan as needed so that they brown evenly.  If you are using a kitchen torch, which I to prefer because it looks so dramatically beautiful – torch topping by moving the flame in circular motions so not to stay in one spot for too long (it will burn) over the meringue until the surface is evenly browned – careful not to set your parchment on fire – but possibly do this next to the sink just in case!
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S’mores brownies by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from feed feed Ultimate Smores Brownie

Blueberry Cream Scones

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Blueberry cream scones by twocarolines.com

Given the many choices of morning pastries scones aren’t always my first choice, they often seem like a less yummy, more dry, wannabe muffin.  However, these Blueberry Cream Scones were just sweet enough, more moist because of the brush of butter and beautifully balanced with lemon zest and delicious fresh blueberry flavor.  Everyone I introduced them too ended up eating more than one and they were gone in a day!  You can use any berries you have on hand by the way so get your summer fruit supply in check and start baking!

2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup fresh blueberries
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup heavy cream (you can also use yogurt, but I prefer cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind (zest), or 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing on top (optional)
2 tablespoons demerara or raw sugar, for sprinkling on top

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with parchment.
  2. Whisk the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; use your fingers, a pastry blender, or an electric mixer. Gently mix the blueberries with the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla extract, lemon zest or oil, and almond extract if using. Add to the dry ingredients and stir very gently, just until combined. The dough will be quite moist, like cookie dough.IMG_2491
  4. I decided to shape my dough into a rectangle on a floured surface then I cut out squares using my pastry cutter, but you could also use a large scoop and drop the dough onto the prepared sheet in scant 1/4-cupfuls, leaving about 2″ between each.
  5. Brush each ball or square of dough with melted butter (or you can use milk or cream), and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  6. Bake the scones for 18-23 minutes, or until lightly browned and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into a scone comes out dry. Remove from the oven, and serve warm. To reheat, wrap loosely in aluminum foil, and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Store scones, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Fresh Blueberry Scones

Wheat Germ Chocolate Chip Cookies

Two Carolines Wheat Germ Chocolate Chip Cookies 2

I realize that this is going to be a bold statement, so you might want to sit down. This is my ALL-TIME favorite cookie. I even posted this recipe twice on my old blog, because it went through quite a few iterations to reach Peak Cookie. It’s inspired by a favorite cookie from Specialty’s in SF that my friend and I used to get all the time during work breaks/after work/whenever we could. This recipe seems fairly close but is even better, if I do say so myself. I added a lot of healthy bits and bobs, so you could probably eat them for breakfast—not that I’ve ever done that*.

*Disclaimer: I may or may not have eaten these for breakfast.

  • 3/4 cup old fashioned whole rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • (Makes approximately 30 cookies)

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease cookie sheets or line with baking paper.

Mix oats, flour and almond meal, in a medium bowl. Add baking soda, salt, cinnamon and whisk until mixed in. Whisk in wheat germ and flax. Chop coconut and pecans very finely in small food processor (or old school with a good knife) and mix into the flour mixture.

Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. Add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill the dough in a refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. The dough should be semi-firm before proceeding with next step.

Use a cookie scoop to scoop out dough and arrange, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies, until firm around the edges and barely golden on top, about 9 minutes. Cool the cookies for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool.

NOTE: I think the cookies actually taste the best the next day. Also, the dough can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator, tightly covered for up to a week.

-CK 1.0

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake by twocarolines.com

The makings of a perfect weekend must include breakfast sweets, a fact well supported by our ever growing plethora of sweet breads, muffins and coffee cakes.  The one I make the most is our Apple Cake, which is awesome, and in the summer I like to use fruit and will often do a blueberry crumb cake which is also a treat.  But this weekend I wanted something substantial and classic, and this cake is the ultimate brunchy crunchy chewy cinnamony streusel and glaze topped champion of all great coffee cakes!  There’s so much that’s right about it – I really felt like I was staying at a fancy New York hotel or something with every bite- it’s simple, but has an elegant balanced delicious taste and the heavy crumb on top is the key to all breakfast cake successes.  -CK 2.0

For the Streusel:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (Martha calls for an entire teaspoon, but I like it better with just a touch of the coarse salt then you get just that tingle of salty sweet, but you could also do 1/2 teaspoon of table salt)
3/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (to toast – but on a cookie sheet in a 350 oven for about 7-9 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant)

For the Cake:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (or 1/2 table salt)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk (I used 2 buttermilk and one whole milk)

 

  1. Make the Streusel top and middle layers: Mix together flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until small to medium clumps form.  Mix in 1/2 cup nuts.  Refrigerate topping until ready to use.  Make the streusel center:  Mix together remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 cup nuts, reserve for layering into the center of the batter.
  2. Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350.  Butter a 9-inch tube pan with a removable bottom (you can use a springform pan also.  I used a 9×13 which is trickier to get the layer in the center to work out so I recommend a round pan).  Sift flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Add flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with 2 batches of the sour cream.  Beat until well combined.
  4. Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan.  Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter.  Top with remaining batter; spread evenly with an offset spatula.  Sprinkle streusel topping evenly onto batter.
  5. Bake until cake is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.  Remove cake from pan; transfer to a parchment lined work surface or serving platter.
  6. Make the Glaze: Mix together the confectioners sugar and milk.  drizzle over cake allowing glaze to drop down the sides.  Let sit a few minutes before serving.
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Cinnamon Coffee Cake by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake – Martha Stewart Cakes Book

 

King Butterscotch Brownies

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Care King v1.0 posted this brilliant butterscotch brownie when she was living in Berlin year before last.  You guys need to know- these have no chocolate- they appear to because of the dark brown sugar, but they are all butterscotchy goodness! 

In CK 1.0’s words:  This is a recipe that was a favorite of my Aunt’s and my Grandpa’s. This was a common request from both of them, so I thought it was only fitting. I decided to change up the type of brown sugar I used—a combination of half light and half dark brown for a bit of a Christmas vibe. Also, I browned the butter and added a pinch of salt to the brownie batter and the frosting, because I’m like that. And ooooweeee, it was good! These changes added a bit more depth and flavor to an already over-the-top-scrumptious dessert. So, be like a King and get yours! 
BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIE BATTER:
1 cup flour
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup browned butter
1 t. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional—I eliminated this for texture reasons) 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brown butter in small saucepan. Whisk the rest dry ingredients together; add eggs and vanilla to butter and whisk until combined. Mix butter mixture into dry ingredients until combined well. If you choose to add nuts, stir them in at this point. Pour into greased 8×8-inch baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Spread hot cake with the following:

FROSTING:
1 cup brown sugar
pinch salt
3 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine brown sugar and butter; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add milk and boil slowly for 3 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar until well-combined and somewhat thick. Spread on hot cake and cool. Once completely cooled, slice up brownies and try to eat only one at a time, you gluttons! 

Does this look like candy? Cause it tastes like it!

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