Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Quintessential chocolate chip cookies by twocarolines.com

What is more all American than classic chocolate chip cookies?  These are my Momma’s famous CCC’s – it’s an honor to share this family classic.  It’s possible they taste a lot like your Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, but to me, they taste like home, and a Mother’s love, and that time our dog Beamer jumped up on the kitchen counter and ate the cookies while they cooled (don’t worry, he was fine), and seriously so many great memories.  Just thinking about them brings joy to my heart.  They are always on point, so melty, amazing texture of chewyness with a tiny crunch on the end, to me, they are a simple cookie in it’s most perfect form.

1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons room temperature water
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup choppped walnuts (1 1/2 if you you’re doing nuts in all the cookies, but Mom always makes half “non-nutty” for the littles)

  1.  Prepare 2 cookie sheets with baking spray, parchment or a silpat (Mom uses the wrapper from the butter to grease the sheet) and preheat the oven 350.
  2. Chop up walnuts so there are some good sized bits, but not huge chunks, otherwise known as coarsely chopped.
  3. Cream butter with sugars, then add eggs and vanilla until totally combined.  Add water and mix well.  Next Add your flour salt and baking soda (you can sift them if you want, but they are fantastic either way).  Mix until just combined then fold in your chocolate chips, and if you’re making cookies sans nuts for people who are “not enlightened” as my Mom puts it, now is the time to drop your cookies in about 2 tablespoon plops with room to spread on to your prepared sheet and while the first batch is baking, add your nuts for the next.
  4. Bake about 8-9 minutes – bake time is not important, doneness is.  You want these cookies out of the oven when they are still shiny and doughy looking in the middle, but the edges are brown at the bottom and starting to set.  If you overbake them, just give them to a neighbor you don’t like because you’ve done a terrible thing to an otherwise perfect chocolate chip cookie!  They will bake a little longer as they cool on the cookie sheet and after 10 minutes or so, move them to a cooling rack.  I would tell you to let cool before serving but that’s just adorable non-sense.  Eat them as soon as they don’t burn your mouth!  They keep for a day or two in a well sealed container, but I often end up freezing what we don’t eat the first day or two and then you can defrost them for 20 seconds and re-live that fresh out of the oven feeling.

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Spice Cake by twocarolines.com

Pumpkin Spice Cake by twocarolines.com

Yes the pumpkin spice thing is really popular this time of year and probably getting a bit played, but don’t front like you don’t want to put this in your mouth.  Also, let’s not pretend you don’t have more than one can of pumpkin in your pantry right now dying to come out and make your house smell good.  I made it for my brothers family and they felt strongly that this was a cake you could easily eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, it didn’t last long.  It’s the perfect cake for Fall, all warm and cozy and tucked in nicely with a magical sweet/sour/touch of cinnamony cream cheese sweater.

pumpkin spice set up twocarolines.com

Pumpkin Spice Cake set up by twocarolines.com

Pumpkin Cake:
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamon

pumpkin spice cake prebake twocarolines.com

pumpkin cake before the bake by twocarolines.com

(if you don’t have all of these spices don’t get stressed out, just use a little more or less of something you do have until it tastes good.  I think clove is such a strong flavor that I used less of that and added cardamon which I love in baked goods, you could even use a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice instead of those last 3 if you’d like)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable or coconut
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature, yolks and whites seperated

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1/2 cup (or one stick) butter at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (but keep some extra on hand to make sure you get the right consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of cinnamon

For the Cake:

  1.  Preheat oven to 325 and position a rack in the center.  Butter a 9 inch round cake pan (if yours is 9.5 or 10 that’s okay, just start checking for doneness 10 minutes earlier). Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and butter that too.  If you’re making the frosting same day you might want to take out your butter and cream cheese so they can come up to room temp before it’s time to make frosting.
  2. Sift (if you’re really concerned about lumps, but I didn’t sift the first time and it was just as good) the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices in a bowl and set aside
  3. In a large bowl mix pumpkin, oil, sugar and salt for a good 3-4 minutes until it’s all combined.  Remember to periodically scrape down the sides of your bowl.
  4. Mix in egg yolks one at a time then add the dry ingredients but stop mixing as soon as the flour mixture is just combined.
  5. Whisk the three egg whites until they are frothy and white.  Fold them into the batter using a rubber spatula until they are no longer visible, but just barely, you want your whites to stay fluffy so your cake is springy.
  6. Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake on the center rack in the oven.  Begin checking the cake after 40 minutes, could take up to 45 – the center will continue to set as the cake cools in the pan, but still don’t take it out until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let the cake cool at least 20 minutes before inverting it to a wire rack to completely cool.

For the Frosting:

  1. Beat together the butter and the cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is smooth with no dry traces of sugar.   You can use a little extra powdered sugar if you like your frosting thicker and sweeter, but I like the sourness of the cream cheese to come out as much as possible.  Add a pinch of cinnamon and a teaspoon of vanilla and beat until incorporated.

I liked it best served with chopped walnuts, but the original recipe (link below) made carmalized pumpkin seeds, which would probably be boss, but I don’t usually have those lying around and nuts can be somewhat polarizing in a family with kids so I usually add them at serving time for grown ups and littles who have refined taste.  Let us know how you like it

Recipe adapted from Food 52 Sarah Jampel’s Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread

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brown sugar cinnamon pull-apart bread by twocarolines.com

I saw this beautiful pull apart bread a few months ago on King Arthur Flour who has an awesome blog with loads of great recipes and a really cute IG feed as well – I was certain to make it ASAP – as it turns out, it was truly weeks before I could get to that “P” in the ASAP.  The last 6 weeks have been non-stop for us!  I’m so glad I finally got down to my important baking business because this recipe was so much fun.  I doubled it and made a savory loaf and a sweet loaf, and there was even enough for a bonus loaf!  For the savory, I made an herbed butter compound by just chopping up fresh rosemary and adding some garlic salt, it was SO GOOD!! I will be making that again for sure.  For the sweet, I slathered a mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon into my folded rounds and glazed it with my fave glaze from our famous Grandma Ruth’s Cinnamon Rolls – and there are easier icings out there, but there are NONE that compare with this one, it’s magically not too sweet and it hardens as it cools.  It was SUCH a treat, we loved it.  And there are so many ways you could make this bread – have fun with it!

Dough:

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pull-apart bread dough by twocarolines.com

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons potato flour (I didn’t have any, and they still worked out great, but I just bought some for next time)

Brown sugar butter filling:
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
(for an out of this world savory filling mix butter with a tablespoon or so chopped fresh rosemary and 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic salt)

Icing:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Warm your milk and pour it over your butter to melt it. Add the sugar and salt and let it cool slightly, then add your eggs, yeast, potato flour, and all-purpose flour – you want your dough to pull off the sides of your bowl, but not too dry, just workable.  You may need to add a little as you knead.
  2. Once you’ve mixed and kneaded your dough, let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size – this took me about an hour.  A good way to quickly check to see if your dough is ready is to press it with your finger. If the indentation remains without springing back, it’s ready to go.img_5329
  3. Roll your dough 1/2” thick. Using an English muffin ring, large biscuit cutter, or wide-mouth Mason jar lid, cut circles out of the dough.  Roll out your leftovers and get as many circles as you can out of your dough.
  4. To make the filling, just mix all the ingredients together until incorporated. Spread half of each circle generously with your filling then fold it and place it into your greased loaf pan.  I pushed them to one side then the other alternating to get more circles in, but stack them in however you like.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the loaf for 22 to 24 minutes. It should be golden brown all over. After 5 minutes or so turn your loaves out of the pans to cool on a rack.
  6. For the icing cook the evap milk, sugar, salt and flour until it starts to thicken, then add the butter vanilla and powdered sugar. You can sift the powdered sugar as you add it to avoid lumps, but I tend to just strain my icing after it’s done which is easier and it comes out beautifully lump free.  Drizzle onto your slightly cooled loaves.
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pull-apart sweet bread by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour pull-apart breads blog post

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 to get that campfire coal browned look and taste. 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

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