Momma May’s Carrot Cake

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Momma May’s Carrot Cake by twocarolines.com

My Mom Cheryll is an incredible woman- she has a PhD from Tufts School of Law and Diplomacy, she raised 3 children along with my Father, while working and fulfilling challenging church callings and she’s an absolute wonder in the kitchen! Her carrot cake is one of the most rare and spectacular privileges of my life on earth- you guys it’s BEYOND delicious! I get mad at carrot cakes that are jam packed full of raisins, nuts and pineapples, those are all good things that have no place in my cake.  I am a carrot cake purist, I want a full rich cake with strong carrot flavor and texture, and a hearty portion of slightly tart cream cheese frosting to set it all off.  What’s most magical about this cake is how the carrots start to caramelize in places and you get little crunchy, chewy sweet bits of carrot with a perfectly seasoned cake keeping it all together for a truly unforgettable cake experience.  I love it with fresh chopped walnuts on top of the frosting, for some reason they taste way better to me on top of the cake than they do in the cake.  My Mom usually makes this in a 9×13 pyrex, in which case you bake it for about 45-55 minutes (pay more attention to doneness than bake times).  I made it into an layer cake for dramatic effect, but suit yourself, it’s incredibly delicious either way!

For the Cake:
1 1/4 vegetable oil or coconut oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 generous cups finely grated carrots

For the Frosting:
1 pound cream cheese (two 8 oz bars) room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup butter (2 sticks) room temperature
2 pounds powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 cup walnuts (more or less as you desire)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease (I also parchment line) two 9 inch round cake pans.  If you haven’t yet get out your butter and cream cheese to get them to room temperature for the frosting.
  2. Blend oil and sugars until really well combined.  Beat in eggs two at a time until totally incorporated.  Whisk together your dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Sift in dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Add carrots and give is a good mix so they are evenly distributed but don’t over-mix.
  3. Pour into your pans trying to keep them as even as possible.  Bake for 28-35 minutes rotating once.  Pay attention to doneness more than bake times.  Cakes should be raised, pulling slightly from the sides and a toothpick in the middle should come out clean.  Let cool in the pans for 10 or so minutes before turning out on to a rack to cool completely.
  4. For the frosting, beat your room temp cream cheese and butter until nicely combined.  Add vanilla, then start to add your powdered sugar scraping down completely a few times to make sure your frosting doesn’t have any dry spots.  I found I like the consistency better with a tablespoon or so of milk, but that’s optional.  Use as much sugar or milk as is needed to reach a nice sturdy frosting that can hold up in a layer cake – thick, but still spreadable.
  5. Put first cake layer down on your cake board or plate then spread a generous layer of frosting on the top.  Try to only touch your frosting tool to the frosting and never to the cake to avoid pulling up crumbs.  Another tip is to use more frosting than you think you need – really pile it on, you can always take it off as you frost your cake, but if you’re needing to add more it isn’t as easy to work with.  Once you have a solid 1/2 inch plus layer on your bottom cake put your next cake on top and pile frosting high then work it over the top and sides with a knife or frosting tool.  I love this offset frosting spatula from Ateco.  Turn your cake as you frost to evenly distribute your frosting, you will probably have some left over for your next batch of cupcakes or to decorate cookies with.
  6. Chop walnuts and carefully press them into the top of your cake.  Keep at room temperature and enjoy!
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Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Walnuts by twocarolines.com

Coconut chocolate chip cookies

I thought I had already posted these because: coconut and chocolate! I discovered that we have dozens of coconut desserts on the site, because we unapologetically insist on a blog heavily unbalanced, with some categories of bakes hardly covered and others…such as banana, peanut butter chocolate, and coconut given every possible recipe known to man because we LOVE THOSE THINGS! These cookies are the epitome of chewy, chocolatey, crisp on the edge, cookie dreaminess. You can go straight up semi sweet chocolate- but I think the milk chocolate mixed with the semi-sweet is one of the things that makes these so uniquely delicious!

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

Cream until fluffy.

Add:

2 eggs, beating in one at a time

2 tsp vanilla

Add:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

(I find at my high elevation and dry climate a tablespoon of water helps the texture)

Mix well and add:

2 2/3 cup coconut (yes, you read that correctly)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes. You want the bottoms starting to brown but still a bit shiny and doughy in the middle

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars by twocarolines

If you bake A LOT like me its necessary to practice moderation or you can quickly slide into a place where all your clothes just laugh at you.  I generally am pretty good at eating my baked delights a little at a time…except when it comes to things of the peanut butter chocolate variety- I have NO CONTROL!  This is one of those desserts I want fed to me intravenously- I want to eat it with non-stop wild abandon! My friend Marci made these for dessert one evening when I was pregnant and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.  If it weren’t for these my baby might have been a dainty 9 pounds instead of a chocolate peanut butter filled 10.  I finally got the recipe from her and they turned out everything I wanted them to be and more.  Enjoy!

 

For the bars:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

For the frosting:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 + cups confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan.  If you’re baking for a crowd double and put in a 9×13.
  2. In a stand mixer of with beaters mix the melted butter with the sugars until well combined.  Add the egg, vanilla and peanut butter (I use Jiff creamy but natural would work too) and mix until everything has come together.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a separate bowl and add to the butter/sugar mixture.  Once all of that is combined, add the oats and stir until they are well incorporated and there are no dry spots.
  4. Spread into your baking pan, the batter is thick so press it into the corners and even it out.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes until it’s just browned around the bottom and corners.  Let cool
  6. For the frosting, melt butter and milk chocolate chips if using, if you’re not using them just melt the butter.  (I really like a more milk chocolate frosting on these bars because it’s sweeter and the perfect compliment to the saltiness of the peanut butter).  Mix butter (choc. chips) with 2 cups of powdered sugar then add the milk.  Now add the cocoa (I sift it in to avoid lumps) and keep adding more and more powdered sugar until you have a pretty light brown frosting that’s not too stiff but starts to harden if you stop stirring it.  Refer to photo’s for look/feel of frosting.
  7. Spread frosting over the top of your bars as thick as you see fit.  You might have frosting left over, I had about 2/3 a cup left over.  Frosting will harden as it cools.  Keep in a airtight container to covered with plastic at room temperature, delicious for at least 5-6 days.

 

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars with Milk Chocolate Frosting by twocarolines

 

Whole Wheat Banana Bread..or Muffins

IMG_9105 whole wheat banana muffins by twocarolines[/

This time of year I like to walk the neighborhood with baked sweets in hand because it’s beautiful outside and people really like you when you bring them treats like this whole wheat banana bread. It’s also fantastic as muffins- both ways shown below. This is my own recipe, it’s so easy and good, plus it’s a great way to sneak some flax and fiber into your kids breakfast.  Not that it’s entirely virtuous, but breads and muffins that don’t taste good are a waste of everyones time.  If you don’t have ground flax or wheat germ you can substitute with bran, or just a little more whole wheat, this recipe is very forgiving and it’s begging to be messed with so have at if you want to add some fruit, top it with raw sugar, or add some chocolate chips, which I do quite regularly because: obvious.

1/3 cup coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil or butter as well)

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 medium sized banana’s mashed up

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon whole wheat flax

2 tablespoons wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

(if you’d like add 3/4 cup chocolate chips, nuts, blueberries, raisins, or whatever sounds good to you!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan -I also make a parchment sling, or a muffin tin or use cupcake liners and spray just a bit in the bottom of each.

Mix the oil, sugar, and eggs one at a time and vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix up the flours, flax, wheat germ, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients and banana in 3 batches taking turns until it’s all incorporated.  If you’re adding any extra’s do that last.

For bread fill loaf pan 3/4 full and bake about 55 minutes depending on the size of your loaf- start checking if a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs around 45 minutes. For muffins fill muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake for 17-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  You can freeze what you don’t eat the first day – I wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

chocolate peanut butter cake by twocarolines.com

As our readers know, the love Caroline’s have for desserts of the peanut butter chocolate variety is SERIOUS!  We have brought you some pretty amazing C&PB combo’s like the amazing double chocolate peanut butter pie, 1.0’s famous peanut butter banana chocolate chip cake, or our much loved peanut butter buckeye brownies plus many more.  Now I bring you one of my favorite cakes of all time – this chocolate peanut butter cake is all the things you want your C&PB desserts to be! Rich chocolatey flavor, and creamy delicious peanut butter frosting plus a luxey ganache filling that sets it all off perfectly.  I make this cake all the time, but it usually get’s eaten so fast I can never get a picture! This was a commissioner my friend Melissa- it’s hard when you make your favorite cake but can’t eat it! But they LOVED it and so will you!  -CK 2.0

Cake: (this is my go-to chocolate cake recipe – but use your favorite, this one always turns out ultra moist and delicious but any standard chocolate cake recipe would work)

  • 1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix
  • 1 3.4 oz box jello instant chocolate pudding (not the fat/sugar free)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten (room temp works best)
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Ganache Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Frosting:

  • 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand like Jiff or Skippy
  1. For the cake.  Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9″ cake pans with parchment and either butter or spray them then set aside.
  2. Lightly mix together the cake mix and pudding mix then in a separate bowl mix your eggs water, oil (or butter) and vanilla well, until all the eggs are incorporated.  Add the wet mixture into the cake mix making sure to mix it thoroughly for a few minutes, and then add the sour cream blending until no white streaks remain.  Last add the chocolate chips and just fold them in with a spatula so they are evenly distributed.  The batter is quite thick, but it bakes up really nice so don’t be nervous about the texture.
  3. Pour evenly into your cake pans and level out with a spatula.  Bake for about 22-25 minutes checking for doneness with a toothpick.  The top of the cakes spring back when done and the cake just barely starts to pull from the sides of the pan.  Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely while you make your frosting and ganache.
  4. Next I make the ganache and then the frosting because you need to pipe frosting around the bottom of your layer cake in order to hold the ganache in the middle while it cools.  The ganache can start to cool down and thicken while you make the frosting.
  5. For the ganache: Put the chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl – I use 4 cup pyrex for this.  Heat slowly in the microwave either on defrost or in 20 second intervals at full power until the chocolate starts to loose it’s shape and you can whisk it smooth.  You can also heat the chocolate and cream in a double boiler, but I find the microwave method much easier.
  6. For the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
  7. Once the cakes have cooled, level the tops with a long serrated knife, unless you don’t care about having a neat looking cake, but this makes frosting easier and it gives you a little snack while you work.  Put the first layer on a plate or cake board and pipe with either a piping bag or just a bag made from parchment a dam of frosting around the diameter of the bottom layer that will hold in your ganache when you pour it in.  You may have some extra ganache – I used it last time to put on the top of my cake which you can do, or just save it for something else.  Now take your ganache and pour it into the middle of that bottom layer spreading out but taking care not to let it go over the edge or over the edge of your frosting layer – this is why you made a frosting dam, to hold in your ganache and keep your second layer of cake from squishing it.
  8. Let that cool for 10 minutes or so then put the second cake layer on – neat side up and plop a large amount of frosting on top.  Using an offset spatula spread the peanut butter frosting taking care to only touch your spatula to the frosting, and not to the cake so you don’t drag crumbs.  Work your frosting around the top, pushing it slowly from the middle, and then around the sides scraping the extra into a paper towel so you don’t drag crumbs.  A spinning cake pedestal helps, but you can do this by just turning a plate.  Once you have a uniform and neat cake you can decorate with extra ganache, chocolate curls, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or whatever you would like.
  9. Keep plastic where you’ve cut your cake so it doesn’t dry out, but you’re not likely to have any extra!

 

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake 

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

 

Two Carolines Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Winter brings out my love of comfort food. I just want to consume classic, easy, basic foods. I have been thinking about Pineapple Upside-Down cake for a while now because of that delicate caramelized layer of brown sugar and butter and fruit. I researched a lot of options and landed on this divine recipe that I slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour. If you are feeling like rewarding your tastebuds with joy, I suggest giving this little number a go.

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 20-ounce cans pineapple rings in juice, drained

Cake

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish.
  2. To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Cut the Pineapple rings in half and arrange on brown sugar mixture in staggered rows or in any pattern you desire. (I had a few rings leftover that didn’t fit)
  4. To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.
  5. Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.
  6. Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.
  7. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan. 
  8. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine took closer to 40 or so minutes)
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate (You’ll need a big one for this size of dish). Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.

-CK 1.0

 

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Salted Dark Chocolate Pecan Fudge

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Salted Dark Chocolate Pecan Fudge by twocarolines

Fudge is such a staple of my family’s Christmas tradition, for weeks around this time of year my Mom kept a 9×13 on the back porch (where it would stay cool, but not dry out like it would in the fridge) and the intention was to make pretty plates of it for friends and neighbors, but my brothers and I were always sneaking pieces so, to everyones delight, she would end up having to make it a number of times.  Momma May makes the most incredible, rich dark chocolate nutty fudge EVER!  This is not the stuff on the back of your marshmallow cream label, it’s a unique and spectacular fudge experience for sure.  I think the secret is the unsweetened chocolate, that’s what gives is such insane chocolate flavor.  I traded out walnuts for pecans because I’ve been on a pecan binge lately and I added flake salt to the top.  I’m not going to lie, I am deep deep in love with the way it turned out.

Ingredients:

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk

1/3 pound of butter (ends up being about 1 stick and 2-3 tablespoons)

2 cups chocolate chips

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate – chopped (I used 7 but who’s counting)

1 container (7 ounce)  marshmallow cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups pecans coarsely chopped

flake salt

  1. Have all your ingredients ready – this is a must for candy making as things happened fast and are often timed so finding and measuring is not something you’ll have time for as you go.  Grease a 9×13 baking dish (I use pyrex) with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a large saucepan (with a heavy bottom – or at least a good thick one) mix sugar, milk, and butter.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula.  As soon as it boils start a timer for 5 minutes and stir while it’s boiling for the full 5 minutes.
  3. Take off the heat and add unsweetened chocolate and chocolate chips, then marshmallow cream and once there are no more white streaks vanilla and nuts stirring the entire time.
  4. Pour into your greased 9×13 and sprinkle with flake salt then let cool.  Don’t slice until cooled down, but if you wait too long slicing is a little trickier to do cleanly.  I slice after about an hour of cooling for clean small squares.  I recommend keeping your servings small because it’s crazy mad rich.  Do not keep in the fridge or it will dry out your fudge.