Banana Bread Granola

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Since living in Berlin, I’ve adopted a few local habits. 1) giving dirty looks to people on the train who are taking up two seats, 2) riding my bike everywhere—as often as possible, 3) I say the word “genau” too much, and 4) I start almost every morning with some form of müsli or granola and fruit. I live with a pretty lo-fi kitchen here, without all of my normal accoutrements and gadgets, so I always am on the lookout for simple recipes and things I can put together very easily. This recipe from Minimalist Baker perfectly fit the bill. I adjusted a few things based on what I have, and some personal preferences, so here is my version of the recipe.

3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup chopped almonds
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon flax seed
1/8 cup toasted wheat germ
1/8 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan over medium low heat, warm the coconut oil, maple syrup (or honey) and vanilla extract. Once liquid, remove from heat and whisk in mashed bananas until well combined. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well.

Spread the mixture evenly onto baking sheets prepared with silpat or baking paper and bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once, halfway through baking. Watch well after 25 minutes, to reach desired crispiness.

Once the granola is visibly browned, remove from the oven and toss just a bit to let the heat escape. Cool completely on the baking sheet. Sometimes I return it to the turned off oven and leave it in overnight to dry it out a bit. The granola can be stored in an air-tight container for a couple weeks—if you can last that long! Genau!

Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Pecan Sticky Buns

IMG_9011Do you have a house full of people and need some good breakfast ideas?   Are you on a Thanksgiving sugar high and not ready to get down?  Or do you just want to eat the best breakfast EVER?  We’ve got you covered.  It might sound like putting whole wheat into your sticky buns would make for a dense texture and unwelcome taste, but trust us, these are all light, fluffy and poppin off flavor like nobody’s business.  Also, unlike their white flour contemporaries they taste amazing for days.  And there must be some great health benefit in whole wheat, even if you do dress it up with a little butter and sugar right?

Dough –

2 tablespoons butter melted and cooled

1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ

1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup warm water

1 large egg beaten

Filling/Topping

1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons butter softened plus more for pan

1 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt 

2/3 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Directions:

  1. Dough – brush a medium bowl with butter (or cooking spray) set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment, combine flours, wheat germ, yeast, salt, brown sugar, water, egg, and butter.  Mix on medium-low speed, scraping sides and bottom of bowl once, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  IMG_9010
  2. Filling/ Topping – Brush a 9 inch round cake pan (I usually use a 9.5 which works great) with butter; set aside.  In a medium bowl, sitr together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt, until smooth and fluffy.  Spread half the mixutre over the bottom of the pan; sprinkle with half the pecans.
  3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface.  Gently roll into a 10-by-14 inch rectangle.  If it’s not exact that’s okay – I use this handy dough scraper to cut my rolls off and measure.  With an offset spatula, spread remaining brown-sugar mixture on top, leaving a 1/4 inch boarder.  Sprinkle with remaining pecans.  Starting at the long edge, roll up dough like a jelly roll, then cut crosswise into 10 pieces.  Place pieces in a pan cut side down, spaced evenly.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until buns are just touching and almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake buns until golden brown and topping is bubbling around the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes.  With a serving plate centered over pan, hold plate and pan together and carefully flip over.  Lift off pan and scrape out any remaining topping onto buns.  Serve immediately.  Keep leftovers and room temperature wrapped in plastic.  15 seconds in the microwave will make your leftovers taste like new!

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Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living – Whole Wheat Brown Sugar Sticky Buns

Salty Caramel Chocolate Pie

salty caramel2If you’re intimidated by traditional pie crust, first you should check this out, then you should make a Salty Caramel Chocolate Pie that requires no dough making, rolling, or crimping.  It’s a “pat in the pan” crust which are the easiest ever and no longer only for graham crackers, you can pat into your pan speculoos biscuits, animal crackers, saltines, or in this case, pretzels!  This is most likely not the pie your grandma has made for years, but we are all about new traditions that start with you.  The salty crust perfectly sets off the caramel filling and of course there’s a silky layer of ganache on top because: obvious.  Your first bite will do that thing that perfectly balanced salty/sweet treats do where your mouth floods and demands you take another bite STAT! My Mother who is visiting wants me to tell you to have some cold milk with this because it’s very rich, and she’s looking out for you.  Also I recommend serving cold and trying to keep cold as the caramel likes to ooze as it warms up, which is yummy, but messy.

Pretzel Crust –

8 ounces (225 grams) pretzels

8-10 tablespoons melted butter (if your crust is still dry, add a little more)

Filling –

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup brown butter (you don’t need to use brown butter, but it’s a nice touch if you have time)

2 tablespoons mascarpone (I was out so I used cream cheese with terrific results)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

 

Topping –

1/4 cup heavy cream

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate choppped

 

IMG_9627Crust – Grind the pretzels in a food processor or blender until finely ground, pour in the butter and mix (hands work well for this) until the texture is that of wet sand.  Add more butter if your mixture seems dry.  Firmly press crumbs into a 9 inch pie pan.  Chill the crust in the freezer or fridge for 15 minutes.  Bake in a 400 oven for 8 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Filling – In a heavy bottomed saucepan, stir together water, sugar and honey until the sugar is mostly disolved.  Cook over medium high heat, moving the pan around occasionally (but DO NOT STIR) until the caramel has turned a dark amber and reached around 320-340 degrees on a candy termometer.  Keep smelling it, you don’t want it to smell like it’s burning at all and steam is okay, but smoke is bad.

Remove caramel from the heat and slowly pour the cream into the pan, whisking constantly.  Use caution as your caramel will bubble and steam.  Whisk in the butter, mascarpone, then the vanilla and salt.  Pour the filling into your pre-baked pie shell, and refrigerate it, uncovered until fully set – about 4-5 hours.

Topping – Heat the cream until scalded, then pour it over your chopped chocolate.  Let it sit for a minute, then whisk until glossy.  Spread or drizzle ganache over the filling, allow it to set, sprinkle with flake salt and serve.

This pie can be refrigerated for up to 1 week, covered well in plastic wrap.  Serve cold and push a piece of foil into the void after serving so your caramel doesn’t ooze into the gap.  For easier slicing, run your knife under hot water to prevent the caramel from sticking to the blade.

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Recipe adapted from First Prize Pies by Allison Kave.

 

Guest Post! Chocolate Granola Pie

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It’s my very favorite pie, YES, I’m going there!  It has everything anyone could possibly want in a pie with it’s crunchy top, gooey center, and the perfect combo of chocolate oats and nuts.  Fun fact #1: It’s THE EASIEST PIE EVER! Fun fact #2:  The little people you get to hang with this holiday season would love to make it with you! Fun fact #3: The recipe is up now on the beautiful and brilliant Westerly Commons blog!

Please go there right this minute and if you aren’t following them, do that right away, you’ll certainly be glad you did.  Also take a minute to get stocked up on the cutest childrens clothing available to mankind.  We are so honored to be featured there – thank you Westerly Commons!

 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie

IMG_8914When I became I King 8 years ago I quickly learned that cake for your birthday is not the word around here, so if I baked a beautiful cake for my husband on his birthday he would be like “what do you want me to do with that?”  It’s been a pleasure learning the art of pie making which of course begins with a beautiful flaky crust.  The King crust is Crisco all the way, but if you come from the school of butter crusts go on ahead and do that, we won’t be mad.

We all love apple pie, especially when you drowned it in caramel and sprinkle it with raw sugar and flake salt – the combination makes this classic into an epic flavor party that you won’t want to miss.  I know there are a few versions of this pie out there, but I’m a Four and Twenty Blackbirds devotee so mine is very slightly adapted from the one they are famous for. Just for fun I used the triangle in my toddlers shape ball to cut out this top crust and it turned out pretty amazing, but do whatever you like.  I’m also a fan of the fat lattice they do at the aforementioned Four and Twenty Blackbirds – just do something fun and pretty.  Now go be the star of your Thanksgiving feast and make this STAT!

King Crust – Combine 2 Cups flour, ⅔ Cup Crisco, 1 tsp Salt and 7-8 TBS ice cold water. Mix with pastry cutter or potato masher, then with hands until a nice dough forms. Cut into 2 balls, roll them out thin, cut one into strips for lattice, or use a cookie cutter to make a decorative top, and place the other into your pie plate.

Caramel-

1 C plus 2 TBS sugar
¼ C water
1 stick unsalted butter
½ C heavy cream

Filling –
2 lemons
6-7 baking apples
2-3 dashes angostura bitters (I use them, it adds a little something, but don’t sweat it one bit if this rare ingredient is not in your pantry, it will taste great without)
⅓ cup raw or demerara sugar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
pinch nutmeg
one grind blk pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon flour
¼ teaspoon flake salt (maldron is easy to find)
Egg wash (1 lrg egg whisked w/ 1 tsp water and pinch of salt)
Demerara sugar (also known as raw or turbinado sugar) for finishing

Caramel – Whisk together 1 cup of the sugar and the water in a medium-low heat until the sugar is just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture turns a deep golden brown (do not stir!) almost copper, but you don’t want to see smoke so not too crazy long. Remove from heat and immediately but slowly add the heavy cream – be careful, the mixture will bubble rapidly and steam. I like to add salt at this stage instead of putting salt on top of your filling before you top it with crust.  I just whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt after the cream.  Whisk the final mixture together well and set aside to cool while you prepare your apple filling.

Filling – Juice lemons into a large mixing bowl removing any seeds. Prepare the apples using an apple peeling machine or core, peel and finely slice them with a sharp knife or on a mandoline. Dredge the apple slices in the lemon juice. sprinkle lightly with the remaining 2 TBS sugar. Set aside to soften slightly and release some of the juices, 20-30 minutes. Once you’ve done this pour your extra juice out of the bowl, it’s very important you don’t fill your crust with loads of juice because no one wants an apple pie soup.  I like to do this before I add the spices so none of those wash out and I get all the flavor.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the angostura bitters over the raw sugar. Add the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, kosher salt, and flour and mix well. Add the prepared apples to the sugar-spice mixture, leaving behind any excess liquids that might have gathered. Gently turn apples to evenly distribute the spice mix.IMG_7876

Tightly layer the apples in the prepared pie shell so that there are minimal gaps, mounding the apples slightly higher in the center. Pour a generous ½ cup to ¾ cup of the caramel sauce evenly over the apples (use the larger quantity if you like a sweeter pie). Note that you won’t use all of the caramel, and it saves for weeks in the fridge. If you didn’t add salt to your caramel, then sprinkle with ¼ tsp of the flake salt, but skip this if you put salt in your caramel. Assemble the lattice on top of the pie and crimp the edges as desired.

Chill the pie in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to set the pastry. Meanwhile, position the oven racks in the bottom and center positions, place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack and pre-heat oven to 400.

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Brush the pastry with the egg wash to coat, being careful not to drag the caramel onto the pastry (it will burn) and sprinkle with the desired amount of demerara sugar and flake sea salt. Place the pie on the rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is set and beginning to brown. Lower the oven temp to 375 move the pie to the center oven rack, and continue to bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 30-35 minutes longer. Test the apples for doneness with a skewer or sharp knife; they should be tender and should offer just the slightest resistance.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, 2-3 hours. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Pie will keep refrigerated for 3 days, or room temp for 2 days.

Recipe adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book

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

Coconut Crunch Cake with Dark Chocolate Sauce

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IMG_8764It was one of those times when you come across something in a magazine and your mouth starts salivating so much you may or may not have drooled onto the table. This recipe was the catalyst for a whole folder of cut-out “I want to eat that” things. Of course I kept wanting to make it, but then found myself needing to do something faster, or missing one ingredient, and in the end, what I needed to make it happen was another Caroline. When Caroline 1.0 came to visit us in June we started talking about what we wanted to bake together, because the only thing better than one Caroline in the kitchen is two Carolines in a kitchen. Things got delicious fast, and this was our result.

Coconut Crunch Cake with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Cake:

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temp, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup cream of coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs

Topping:

2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sweetened shredded coconut (8 oz by weight)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 10-inch spring form pan. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl stir cream of coconut and vanilla

Beat butter and coconut oil on medium-high until smooth. Slowly add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each and scrape down the bowl a few times. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with 2 batches of cream-of-coconut mixture. Beat until just combined.

For the topping – whisk egg whites and salt with a mixer until thick and frothy, about 1 minute. Stir in milk and vanilla. Fold in coconut.

Spread batter in pan. Dollop topping over batter; carefully spread in an even layer. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 1 hour (tent with foil if browning too quickly). You may want to make the chocolate sauce now while your cake is baking so it will have time to cool.

Let cake cool completely; remove from pan. Cut into wedges, drizzle with sauce, and serve with extra sauce on the side.

Chocolate 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

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until melted and thoroughly combined, about 7-8 minutes. Let the mixture cool for at least 20 minutes before using. Keeps for at least a month in the fridge.IMG_5576

Coconut Crunch Cake: Martha Stewart Living 2015, Chocolate Sauce: adapted from Mrs. Rowe’s little book of Southern Pies