Pumpkin Banana Pecan Muffins

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Pumpkin Banana Pecan Muffins by twocarolines.com

Over here in the King home we are fans of muffins.  The one we eat the very most often is my chocolate zucchini muffins because of the well established fact that we believe in chocolate for breakfast whenever possible.  Of course we also eat more bananas than a family of chimps, so I was excited to discover this new banana muffin recipe that uses all whole grain wheat and pumpkin.  I’m betting by late November my blood type will be pumpkin spice.  The banana pumpkin combo made for such a moist and delicious muffin, and I added some chocolate chips because of the aforementioned insistence on chocolate for breakfast.

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) soft butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
(scant) 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 1/2 to 8 ounces, 1/2 can) puréed pumpkin
1 cup (8 ounces) mashed banana, the riper the better
2 tablespoons orange juice or water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup diced toasted pecans (optional obviously – I used the Trader Joes candied pecans)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup demerara coarse sugar for sprinkling

  1. Prepare 2 standard muffin tins using liners or baking spray and preheat oven to 350.
  2. Beat together the butter, sugars, eggs, pumpkin, banana, water (or OJ), and vanilla.  Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and stir well to combine.  Next, if using, add the pecans and chocolate chips.
  3. Pour 3/4 full into your prepared pan (you can also do this in a loaf but bake it for about 45-60 minutes paying closer attention to doneness than bake time).  Sprinkle tops of muffins with coarse demerara sugar and bake for 16-18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean from the top of your largest muffin.  Let cool a few minutes in the pan then turn out on a rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Pumpkin Banana Bread

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Frosting

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chocolate zucchini cake by twocarolines.com

I’m well known for my love of cakes, so people often ask me my favorite, well HERE IT IS! Caroline’s world famous Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Frosting.  I just deeply love and adore this cake.  It’s the dessert I crave the most often, there’s something about it, that really sends me.  Usually when I make it, I bring it directly to an event of some sort and never get a decent picture, but it’s fun to be sharing a favorite almost a year after we launched.  I’m not ashamed to admit that this is a ‘doctor the mix’ cake, with a mix foundation that tastes better than many from scratch cakes, there are no ego’s allowed in my kitchen! The cake itself is soooooo rich and chocolatey, the zucchini makes it ridiculous moist.  And the frosting is a legit, dreamy dark chocolate buttercream just poppin off chocolate flavor like nobody’s business.  I like to put nuts on half my cake so nut haters can still enjoy but man alive does a pecan or walnut just belong on this beauty! I also adore this cake with a white sticky frosting, but if you make it that way you need to eat it day of, because the white sticky tends to break down after a day or so.  I’m so excited to share this and I hope you love it as much as I do!

Chocolate Zucchini cake:
1 package devils food cake mix (I use the pillsbury one and it always tastes great)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup oil
3 eggs
2 cups zucchini
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate buttercream frosting:
1/2 cup butter melted
3/4 cups cocoa
1/3 cup milk (or cream)
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
1/2 cup or so walnuts or pecans (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 350.  Grease and line 2 9 inch round cake pans (or it bakes up beautifully in a 9×13 – just pay attention to doneness rather than bake times).
  2. In a large bowl blend cake mix, cinnamon, buttermilk, vanilla, oil, and eggs and beat for a few minutes.  Add zucchini and mix until thoroughly combined and then add chocolate chips.
  3. Distribute evenly into your cake pans and bake for about 22-25 minutes depending on your oven.  It’s done when a toothpick in the center comes out clean.  Let cool before frosting.
  4. For the frosting, mix the butter and cocoa then add the milk, vanilla, salt and powdered sugar mixing on high until totally uniform and combined.  I use a cocoa mix with 1/3 special dark cocoa and the rest regular cocoa for an ultra decadent flavor.  Add more powdered sugar, or milk alternatively to get the desired texture.
  5. Cut off the top rounds on your cakes with a large bread knife then put the first one cut side down on a plate or cake stand.  Spread 1/3 of your frosting on that layer, then put your next cake on cut side down and spread the rest of your frosting, starting at the top and being careful to never touch your frosting spatula or knife to the cake itself but only on the frosting so you don’t pull crumbs.  Spread over the sides and around the edges.  Garnish with pecans or walnuts if you would like.
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chocolate zucchini cake by twocarolines.com

 

Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

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Nutella Swirl Banana Bread by twocarolines.com

We eat ridiculous amounts of Nutella in our home, and when I say “we” I mean my adorable 7 year old daughter who could sustain herself on nothing else if we let her – she’s the one on the left, she’s a very adorable Nutella addict, but an addict none the less.  IMG_2912.JPGI don’t make loads of Nutella recipes because it’s expensive stuff and I buy enough as it is, but this Nutella Swirl Banana Bread turned my head because, duh – bananas!  And I’ve seen a few versions of it, but I liked the way sweetest menu did the swirl on the top and put chocolate chips throughout.  It was a total dessert bread that was here and gone in a day, everyone loved it!  I’m sure you will too.  -CK 2.0

Ingredients
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large overripe bananas
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup Nutella

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Grease and line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper.  In a large mixing bowl, add the flour brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  Whisk together to combine.
  2. Mash bananas with a fork or I use this Pampered Chef Mix and Masher every day and I love it.  Set bananas aside.  In a separate bowl, add the oil, egg, vanilla, and greek yogurt.  Whisk to combine.  Then, add your wet mixture, along with your mashed banana, into your dry mixture and gently fold to combine.  Add chocolate chips and fold in.
  3. Warm the Nutella in the microwave for 10-15 seconds then add 1/4 of the Nutella into your banana mixture.  Fold gently so you can keep your pretty swirls.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.   Add the rest of your Nutella on top and swirl it with a knife into a pretty pattern.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes then tent your bread with foil so it doesn’t burn on top.  Bake another 10-15 minutes until a knife in the center comes out clean (minus a bit of Nutella).  Remove from oven and leave to cool a solid 10 minutes before removing bread from the pan to cool on a rack completely.

Recipe adapted from Sweetest Menu Nutella Swirl Banana Bread

Fake It’s-It: A study in Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Anyone who is from the Bay Area knows a few irrefutable facts. 1) Frisco is not a word and we won’t hear it, 2) Layers are EVERYTHING (and you’ll hear the word “microclimate” often), 3) BART is not just the name of a cartoon character, and 4) The REAL San Francisco Treat is not Rice-a-Roni… it’s the ever glorious It’s-It. It’s ubiquitous throughout the Bay Area, and has spread its delicious love slowly outside the region. I crave them at all times, and love few things more than these treats. I recently made some Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream with the main purpose of filling these bad boys. I had a few people who know my love for all things It’s-It send me a link to this life changing article on Food 52, describing how to make homemade versions! So, you know I got to work on this right away! Instead of regular vanilla ice cream, I went with my clear addiction to PB cup, and added chocolate chips to the cookies, because chocolate. Check the recipe below to craft your own!

Cookie recipe (very slightly adapted from Food 52)

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • large egg
  • teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Heat the oven to 350° F and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, or using handheld beaters, cream the butter and the two sugars until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and do the same with the vanilla.
  4. On low speed, add the flour mixture and chocolate chips and beat until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the oats by hand, mixing just until there are no remaining flour pockets.
  5. Form large balls out of 2 tablespoons of dough and place them 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for about 15 minutes, rotating once for even cooking. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets for maximum crispness. Freeze completely cooled cookies before proceeding to the next step.

Super easy Ice Cream Recipe here

Chocolate Sauce (I increased the amounts from what is found on the original recipe)

  • 36 ounces of dark chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons of canola oil

Assembly:

  1. Line baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.
  2. Place cookies, flat side up, on sheets and scoop a generous amount of slightly-softened ice cream on top. (Food 52 suggests 3 parts ice cream to 1 part cookie, but I had eaten too much of my ice cream already to have those proportions—whoopsie!).
  3. Sandwich with bare cookies. Use a spoon or an offset knife to smooth the sides. Wrap each one individually in saran wrap or parchment paper.
  4. Immediately place the cookie sandwiches into the freezer and chill until thoroughly frozen—at least 3 or 4 hours.
  5. When the cookies are sufficiently frozen, melt the chocolate and canola oil in a saucepan over the lowest heat, stirring constantly.
  6. Working with one sandwich at a time, place in the melted chocolate, using a slotted spoon to flip the sandwich over so that all sides are coated. Pick the sandwich up with the spoon, allow some excess chocolate to drip off, and then return to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Place the chocolate-coated sandwiches back into the freezer and let the chocolate harden for at least an hour.
  8. Enjoy the crap out of your homemade It’s-It.

-CK 1.0

Coconut bundt cake with coconut cream glaze and dark chocolate sauce

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Coconut Bundt Cake with Coconut Cream Glaze and Dark Chocolate Sauce by twocarolines.com

Whenever I’m at my mother-in-law’s house I like to pour over her massive library of cookbooks to see what fun new bakes I can find.  Of course, it’s not easy with a baby climbing all over me and a toddler tugging at me with constant requests to play, eat, complain etc.  This time I became a little obsessed with her massive Bon Appetite Desserts cookbook.  I only got about a quarter of the way through and my phone was filled with recipes I wanted to try.  This one was on the top of my list.  The glaze was recommended in the book and tasted great, but I thought it would also taste great with a lime glaze and at the end of the day, I felt that adding a rich dark chocolate sauce was urgently necessary.  Plus it reminded me of our amazing coconut crunch cake we posted almost a year ago! A fun side-note about this cake is that is has no baking soda or powder, but it rises up like a dream because it has a huge plethora of eggs.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy no matter how you dress it up.

For the cake:
3 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter – room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups packed sweetened flaked coconut

For the glaze:
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
large flake coconut for garnish
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For the sauce:
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (you can also use chocolate chips or semi-sweet if you want your sauce sweeter)
3/4 cup miniature marshmallows
One 5 ounce can evaporated milk

  1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Spray or butter your bundt.  If you use butter, sprinkle in and tap out flour as well.  I like to use bakers spray in my bundt that has flour in it, my cakes always come out clean.
  2. Mix the flour and salt.  Beat the butter, gradually add sugar, eggs one at a time and extracts.  Beat in the flour mixture in 4 additions alternately with the 1 cup coconut milk ending with the flour.  Fold in the two cups coconut spreading into the pan.
  3. Bake about an hour to 65 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not overbake.  Let cool at least 45 minutes before you glaze or your glaze will melt off and not be thick enough to really taste it.
  4. For the glaze mix 1/4 cup coconut milk with 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar – use a little more sugar if you want it thicker.  You could also replace the coconut milk with fresh lime juice and a teaspoon lime zest if you want a lime glaze.  Pour slowly over the top of your bundt.  I find it helpful to put it on a cooling rack with foil or wax paper underneath to catch the drips.
  5. For the dark chocolate sauce chop your chocolate and put it in a medium saucepan with the evaporated milk.  Turn the heat to medium and add the marshmallows stirring occasionally until mixture is uniform and smooth.  Let sit a good 10 minutes or so before pouring onto your cake.  I prefer to pour the sauce on to each piece after it’s cut instead of on top, but suit yourself.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts Cookbook Coconut Bundt Cake and chocolate sauce adapted from Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies

Dense Chocolate Pound Cake

This perfect little pound cake has become my go-to when I’m in need of a SERIOUS chocolate dessert that feels decadent and fancy, but isn’t going to take me all day.  I love to serve it to friends, it has an unassuming air then you take a bite and realize you’re rapidly slipping into a blissful chocolate coma.  I made it this week for a friend and fellow chocolate lover who recently had back surgery and needed some dessert therapy.  She also happens to be one of our first followers and is such a twocarolines.com supporter that I will rescue her with chocolate sweets anytime she wants.  She called to report that she LOVED this cake and described it as absolutely “scrumdillyotious” and insisted I post the recipe ASAP because she needs more.  This ones for you Linda!

1 cup room temperature butter
1 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten
4 ounces best bittersweet chocolate, melted (I use the Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 78% dark chocolate that’s imported from Belgium)
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup chocolate chips or chocolate chunks

  1.  Preheat oven to 375, grease and line a loaf pan.  The lining is important as this is a very damp cake, so I cut parchment to line the sides and the middle, then sprayed my parchment just a bit too.  To melt your chocolate, chop it up, and either melt in a heatproof bowl over a pot of boling water, or do the easy way, heat in a pyrex in your microwave on defrost, or in 20 second increments, because if you let it get to hot, it will burn your chocolate.  Just melt until  you can whisk it smooth.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs and vanilla, beating in well.  Next, fold in the melted (and now slightly cooled) chocolate, blend well, but don’t over-beat.  You want the ingredients combined, but you don’t want a light airy mass.
  3. Mix your baking soda and flour, then gently add the flour mixture, alternately bit by bit with the boiling water until you have a smooth fairly liquid batter.  Sprinkle a teaspoon of flour over your chocolate chips and add those in last, then pour into your lined loaf pan.
  4. Bake 30 minutes, turn down the oven to 325 and continue to bake for another 15 minutes.  The cake does not need to be completely set, but it should be mostly set.  If it’s too squiggly in the middle, it won’t totally set.  I like to tent the top with foil for the last 15 minutes just to insure I don’t burn my chocolate on top, but I get a cake that is baked all the way through the middle.  A cake tester will come out with moist crumbs when done, not liquid batter.
  5. Place loaf pan on a rack and leave to get completely cold before turning out.  Don’t worry if it sinks in the middle, that is to be expected.  Turn out carefully, I trace the edges with a knife first.  Serve with powdered sugar, ice cream, caramel, whipped cream or Nigella even loves it with cream cheese (no clue how she does that – maybe brits keep their cream cheese at room temp?) However you serve it, the cake is so delicious and I think it’s brilliant just on it’s own.  Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from “How to be a Domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake

 

Sour Cream Blueberry Bran Muffins

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Sour Cream Blueberry Bran Muffins

I’m such a bran fan, it’s a texture thing, probably the same thing that makes our blog so full of oats, coconuts, pecans and other such chewy crunchy delights.  These bran muffins are one of my faves, they don’t require blueberries, you could also add raisins, craisins, dates, other fresh berries, even chocolate!  Even if you add nothing, it’s a fantastic little muffin.  They will reliably turn out hearty, fiber full and delicious.  I prefer to eat them with only a pat of butter because the flavor is so amazing, but they are not a super sweet muffin, so some might like to serve with honey or jam.  The cool bran muffin bonus is loads of healthy fiber which has been proven to keep you full longer and has all sorts of those hard to find omega 3’s.  See?! Your friends named Caroline do care about your heart health and how you look in your jeans (at least today we do, tomorrow we will go back to fueling your love handles)   -CK 2.0

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup blueberries (or raisins, cranberries, or other diced dried fruit)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup wheat bran 
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 12 count muffin tin.  I put cupcake liners and spray just a bit into the bottom of them.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and the brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, the sour cream or yogurt, and the molasses, and stir in the fruit.
  3. In a bowl whisk together the flour, the baking soda, the salt, the cinnamon (optional) and the bran, add the mixture to the sour cream mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. (The batter will be lumpy.)
  4. Spoon the batter with a 1/3 cup into your prepared muffin tins and bake the muffins in the middle of a preheated 400°F. oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and springy to the touch. Turn the muffins out onto a rack and let them cool.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen Sour Cream Bran Muffins