All posts by twocarolines

We are two sisters in law with the same name, same passion for baking, and the same taste in design, funky beats, and dance moves

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies by twocarolines.com

It’s a well established fact that those Caroline girls love things of the peanut butter chocolate variety, and these cookies hit all the right notes with amazing texture, chewy, crumbly, and melt in your mouth chocolatey.  This recipe was adapted by Smitten Kitchen from Magnolia Bakery in NYC.  I insist on the peanut butter chips, they make such a difference and I think that’s what makes these my favorite of all the many peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I’ve met.  In the batch that’s pictured I substituted some of the chocolate chips for m and m’s because the kids love that kind of business, and it was really delicious.  They are a cookie I only make when I know I can share them with a crowd because I want to EAT THEM ALL! And so will you!

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter at room temperature (I used smooth, but Deb notes that the bakery uses chunky so if you want little peanut chunks go that route)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup chocolate chips

for sprinkling 1-2 tablespoons sugar (I use turbinado or demerara sugar)

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips.
  3. Place sprinkling sugar on a plate. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls into the sugar, then onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion. I like to put them on a silpat.  Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisss-cross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies.
  4. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they are not. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute, then remove to a rack to cool completely.
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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies by twocarolines

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen Peanut Butter Cookies

 

Black Bottom Vanilla Cream Pie with Salted Caramel Sauce

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Black Bottom Vanilla Cream Pie with salted caramel sauce by twocarolines.com

I have a new habit of slapping a black bottom on every pie I make – it’s my new favorite party trick.  I put one on the incredibly delicious peanut butter chocolate pie, my nutella pie, and lately I’m throwing this down on all my cream pies like banana cream and coconut cream pie.  This cream pie recipe is one you’ve maybe seen here before, but not when it’s atop a decadent layer of ganache and dripping with salted caramel sauce.  This was an experiment that paid off MAJOR! I was so happy with it and it’s not very hard to make! The combination of flaky pie crust + bittersweet chocolate ganache + rich vanilla cream filling + fresh whipped cream + salted caramel = 💯

Crust: Traditional pie crust – our recipe is awesome and easy.  I made this in a deep dish pie pan, but it would work in a standard 9″ – it would just be really full – you could save some ganache for later if it looks like you’re filling it too full before you get to your cream filling.
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup crisco
4 tablespoons ice water

Ganache:
1 cup chopped chocolate or chocolate chips (I love it with a dark bittersweet chocolate)
1/3 cup heavy cream

Filling:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 (scant) teaspoon salt
3 3/4 cup whole milk
7 large egg yolks
4 tablespoons butter (cut into small pieces)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Salted Caramel: 
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar

  1. To make the crust, mix your flour and salt, then add the Crisco and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender as you add the cold water.  It will start to come together at which point you can pull in all the dry parts with your hands and quickly knead it into a ball.  Flour your work surface and roll it into a thin circle.  Roll it onto your rolling pin and slowly into your (ungreased) pie pan.  Make a ridge around the outside and crimp as desired.  Poke all over with holes or put beans or pie weights into your crust with parchment before baking.  Blind bake at 450 7-9 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. While crust is cooking and cooling make your chocolate ganache.  You can melt your chocolate and cream in a double boiler on the stove, or with  my preferred method –  Place chocolate and cream in a glass pyrex in the microwave on defrost for a few minutes or in 20 second increments on full power until the chocolate loses it’s shape and you can whisk it all smooth.   You don’t want it to get too hot so the key is to heat is slowly.  Pour your ganache layer into your (mostly) cooled pie crust and put it into the freezer or fridge so it can harden while you make your filling.
  3. Put sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan with a thick bottom.  With your burner on medium/high (I keep mine just above medium) slowly pour in the milk and stir until combined then add your egg yolks one at a time, whisking after each until no yellow streaks remain.  Now switch to a heat proof rubber spatula and stirring constantly bring to a simmer.  Once the bubbles come up and you know it’s starting to boil scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk until smooth then return to the heat and stir constantly for 1 minute while your mixture slowly bubbles (wear an apron!).  Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla until all is combined then pour into your prepared pie crust on top of your cooled ganache.
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    black bottom vanilla cream pie by twocarolines.com
  4. Put plastic wrap directly over the top before refrigerating.  Be sure to let it cool a solid 4 hours or so before you top it with whipped cream and salted caramel.
  5. For the Caramel whisk together sugar and water in a medium (heavy bottom) saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until sugar is just dissolved.  Add butter and bring to a slow boil without stirring.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the mixture turns a deep golden brown, almost copper (DO NOT STIR).  Remove from heat and immediately but slowly add the heavy cream.  Be careful as your caramel will bubble and steam.  Add salt.  Whisk the final mixture together well and set aside to cool – it will get thicker as it cools.
  6. To make the cream, whip heavy cream in a cool bowl and add sugar as it starts to thicken to desired consistency.
  7. To serve, drizzle caramel over each slice then serve and store refrigerated…if there’s anything left!

Cream Pie recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking vanilla cream pie and Salted Caramel adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.

Double chocolate French Macaroons

This fancy desert has eluded me for years, I’ve made, and even posted them before, but they were far from perfect.  Deserts that require perfection have never really been my thing, but I knew I could at the very least improve so I kept trying and finally I figured out how to make an smooth, leggy, gorgeous macaroon that tastes as good as it looks! (uncommon with perfect deserts in my experience).  One key to my success has been this little hand-pull food processor I got from my MIL that is the most incredible kitchen tool –  it’s made by Zyliss, and here’s a link to buy one! it was a game changer for making my cocoa, sugar, and almond flour SUPER FINE – which is how you get that beautiful smooth top.  You can use a traditional food processor of course, but in my experience this small one does a much better job of engaging the ingredients and not leaving them caked up in corners.  The other thing that is NON-NEGOTIABLE in making successful macaroons is a food scale.  Weighing ingredients made ALL the difference in getting perfect puff every time.  This recipe is totally by weight, because I’ve learned that it’s the only way they come out right consistently.  A few more things you need are large piping bags and a large flat piping tip.  I also find it helpful to print out a template that I slip under the parchment so I can pipe them into uniform circles.  They are truly not difficult, just a bit more time consuming than your average cookie, but don’t be intimidated, get a food scale and GO FOR IT! You’ll be glad you did!

For the macaroon (I sift all of these together on a big piece of parchment):

100 grams almond flour (processed to be extra fine then sifted)
170 grams powdered sugar (process and sift)
15 grams unsweetened cocoa powder (process and sift)
100 grams aged egg whites at room temperature (to age whites, put them in a container in your fridge overnight then get them out a few hours before you began to reach room temp)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
35 grams extra fine sugar (or take normal sugar and food process it)

  1. Line 2-3 cookie sheets with parchment and put your circle templates under to help you pipe – remember to remove template before you bake your cookies!
  2. Place almond flour, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder in your food processor (I do them separately in my Zyliss) and process until they are very fine and mixed together. Sift mixture to remove any lumps (leave lumps in the sifter).
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy.
  4. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat on medium high speed until the meringue just holds stiff peaks (that means when you pull the whisk meringue holds straight out with no drooping).
  5. In 3 additions add the sifted almond mixture into your whites.  While folding cut through the meringue then fold up and over making sure to scrape the bottom.  You want to take volume out, but not all the volume.  You will know it’s time to pipe when the batter falls from your spatula in a thick ribbon.
  6. Fill your pastry bag with the meringue almond mixture fitted with a large plain tip.  Pipe rounds onto the parchment paper very carefully- in the beginning you won’t even need to squeeze your piping bag, do not use a circular motion, just position tip in the middle of the circle and once your mixture has come out to almost the edges then with a small circular motion you can release the bag and pull it up to go to the next.  I recommend this joy of baking video.  I use their recipe as well!
  7. Once you have made your circle cookies drop the cookie sheet on the floor to pop bubbles then place the sheets up where they can dry out a bit – and heat your oven to 325.  You want them to rest about 30-60 minutes (30 is enough in dry dry Utah) so the tops are no longer tacky when touched.
  8. Bake them one rack at at time about 12-14 minutes.  The macaroons are done when they just barely separate from the parchment paper.  Remove and let them cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache Filling:

4 ounces (120 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate cut into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tablespoon butter

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring just barely to a boil.
  3. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and allow to stand a few minutes before you stir it gently until smooth.
  4. Let sit at room temperature until thick and piping consistency.  You can also cool it in the fridge if you frequently take it out to stir.  Put into a large piping bag with a plain tip.
  5. To assemble cookies, take one macaroon, hold it gently and pipe chocolate until almost at the edges then carefully place another on top.  Voila! You’re a macaroon master!

Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking French Macaroons recipe

 

Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake

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Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake by twocarolines

If you haven’t met Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake, let me introduce you to one of the great loves of my life.  Trust me, this one is for the record books people.  I’ve never served it without loud praise, wide applause, and urgent requests for the recipe.  My husband, who isn’t really a cake guy, calls this his favorite and it’s the only cake he actually requests on the regular.  There is so much that’s right about this cake, the always moist and magical oatmeal texture, the not-to-sweet with brown sugar cinnamon flavor, and the coconut pecan topping just sends it into the prize winning cake hall of fame (that’s a thing, or at least I should make that a thing).  It’s one of those rare combinations of show stopping deliciousness that’s embarrassingly easy to make.  Try it and see!

Cake:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla

Topping:
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans

  1.  Set oven to 350.  Prepare a bundt pan by either spraying with baking spray that has flour or greasing well and tapping in flour to coat.
  2. In a large bowl combine melted butter, oatmeal, and boiling water.  Let sit for 20 minutes.
  3. Add sugars then eggs, one at a time mixing well after each.  Add flour and before mixing just put the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon on top of the flour heap then mix it all together adding vanilla last.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a dish that can go in the oven.  If you don’t have one put it on a cookie sheet for the application of the topping then transfer to a plate once it’s completed.
  5. For the topping put the sugar, cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  When sugar is dissolved and mixture starts bubbling on the sides mix in coconut and pecans then remove from the heat. It will stick on the cake a bit better if you let it cool 10-15 minutes before spreading on the cake.
  6. Once your topping is on put cake under the broiler (I keep it on low) for only a minute or so, just long enough to brown the topping.
  7. Serve anytime, keeps at room temp for a number of days.
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Oatmeal Coconut Pecan Cake by twocarolines

Recipe adapted from A Gathering Of Friends

 

 

King’s Spritz Cookies

IMG_0324Tradition is all the rage this time of year, so we’ve been loading you up with some of our very favorite holiday foods, for us these are the things that Christmas tastes like, and Spritz Cookies are very much one of those things.  I will warn you that the big tin of “Danish butter cookies” you get from a nice Auntie or neighbor every year will probs go in the trash after you start making your own spritz, or maybe you can just re-gift those when you run out of Spritz because you ate them all!  I think you’ll find that these are not only buttery delicious, but super fun to make and share!

Note: In order to make Spritz you need a cookie press.  We use this Kuhn Rikon one that works great – but there are a number of choices on the interwebs these days so you shouldn’t have any trouble tracking one down.

Ingredients: IMG_9834

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

2 1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

decorative sugar 

Heat oven to 400.  In a large bowl beat sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg until light and fluffy.  Stir in flour and salt, blend well.

Fill cookie press; press onto ungreased (or silpat covered) cookie sheets.  Sprinkle with desired toppings and bake 7-8 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Gingerbread Cookies

img_4923 Gingerbread Cookies by twocarolines.com

3 cheers for the smell of baking ginger and molasses in your house and a gorgeous plate of gingerbread cookies to share with your neighbors and friends.  To me, holiday cookie decorating is all about the kids, so I searched to find a recipe that gave me all the gingerbread flavor I wanted, but not quite as much bite as the most traditional cookies so little kids wouldn’t complain that they are “too spicey” as my 3 year old put it last year.  These ones are called “light spice” but they are HEAVY on delicious holiday flavor and with some bright and festive royal icing they tasted like everything that rules about Christmas.  I hope you enjoy!

For the Cookies:

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice or ground cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

For the Icing:

  • 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites* (this was equal to the whites of 3 large eggs)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • food dye (I enjoy the gel kind to keep your consistency, but liquid dye will work) and whatever sprinkles you like

Directions:

  1. For the cookies: In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and molasses, and beat well.
  3. Mix about half of the flour into the butter mixture. When well combined, add the cornstarch and the remaining flour.
  4. Divide the dough in half, flattening each half slightly to make a disk. Smooth the edges by rolling the disk along a lightly floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate (recipe says for an hour but I think 30 minutes is sufficient) for easiest rolling.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  6. Take one piece of dough out of the refrigerator, and flour a clean work surface, and the dough.
  7. Roll it out as thin or thick as you like. For slightly less crisp cookies, roll it out more thickly. We like to roll these cookies to about 1/4″inch thick. Use flour under and on top of the dough to keep it from sticking to the table or rolling pin.
  8. Alternatively, place the dough on parchment, and put a sheet of plastic wrap or another piece of parchment over it as you roll, pulling the plastic or parchment to eliminate wrinkles as necessary when rolling; this will keep dough from sticking without the need for additional flour – but you can totally skip this and still pull of perfect cookies.
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    rolled out gingerbread by twocarolines.com
  9. Transfer the cookies to ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
  10. Bake them just until they’re slightly brown around the edges, or until they feel firm, about 9-10 minutes.
  11. Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  12. For the icing: (this recipe makes quite a bit so I recommend making lots of colors!) In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites tiny pinch of salt and vanilla and beat until frothy.
  13. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes.
  14. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.  I split mine into multiple colors by mixing them in small bowls and piping them with disposable piping bags.
  15. .  *Royal icing does contain raw eggs, I’ve never had a problem with this, my husband worked for a huge egg distributor for 5 years and as long as they are pasteurized and not super old, you are likely to be fine, but if you have a crazy sensitive stomach there are other icings you

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour light spice holiday cookies and Alton Brown Royal Icing Recipe.

Pfeffernüsse

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Every Christmas growing up, my mom would painstakingly make cookies that we called Peppernuts. They were a household favorite, but the only thing we didn’t like about these cookies is that they have to “age”—it’s pretty much the only cookie that gets better with time. So we would have to wait a week, while looking at that pastel pink glass dish, waiting for the time that we could dig in, but oooooh was it worth it!

Little did I know that years later, I’d be living in Germany, supposedly the home of the Peppernuts, or more accurately, Pfeffernüsse. I have scoured Christmas markets two years in a row now, looking for a freshly baked, truly German Pfeffernüsse cookie to no avail. I’ve quizzed many a German about this and they said they’ve never had a homemade one and they have only seen them in stores. I bought a bag and was sorely disappointed. So, this year I have taken matters in my own hands to make a traditional German cookie that a lot of Germans have never had—funny how things work sometimes.

I did make some adjustments, I added cardamom, since it seems to be such a traditional holiday spice around these parts. The sauce that was always the really hard part was going to be too difficult for me to make with my lo-fi kitchen, so I went with what I saw in every other recipe and did a powdered sugar coating, rather than a divinity glaze like my mom would make. Additionally, these are her favorite cookies in the world, so that is the best endorsement you could ask for! – CK 1.0

Pfeffernüsse cookie batter:
2 ½ cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon  cardamom
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (it’s hard to find pecans, so used almonds)
Powdered sugar for dipping

Sift flour with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, pepper, and baking soda. In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat 2 eggs and brown sugar until light and somewhat glossy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, beat in flour mixture and nuts until well combined. Dough will be a bit sticky.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with baking paper. With wet hands, pinch off dough by tablespoonfuls. Roll into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes, until the tops are just barely cracking. Remove to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. In two batches, place cookies and a good amount of powdered sugar in a large plastic bag. Roll cookies around until well coated then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks and try to let them age a few days before gobbling them up!

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***IF you want to be ambitious and make the divinity glaze, you will want a stand mixer that you can leave on for 10-15 minutes.

Divinity Glaze:
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream tartar
2 egg whites

In large saucepan, combine sugar, and 1 cup water. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring, 5 minutes, or until mixture forms a 2-inch thread when dropped from spoon or to 235 degrees on candy thermometer.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl, with electric mixer at medium speed, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Pour syrup in continuous stream slowly into egg whites beating constantly. Beat until mixture thickens slightly and starts to lose shine, 6-8 minutes. Drop cookies a few at a time into glaze; with fork, turn to coat all over. Lift out and, using two forks, place on wire rack (with cookie sheet beneath to catch drips) until dry. Store in tightly covered container at least one week before eating.