King Butterscotch Brownies

TwoCarolines_ButterscotchBrownies

Care King v1.0 posted this brilliant butterscotch brownie when she was living in Berlin year before last.  You guys need to know- these have no chocolate- they appear to because of the dark brown sugar, but they are all butterscotchy goodness! 

In CK 1.0’s words:  This is a recipe that was a favorite of my Aunt’s and my Grandpa’s. This was a common request from both of them, so I thought it was only fitting. I decided to change up the type of brown sugar I used—a combination of half light and half dark brown for a bit of a Christmas vibe. Also, I browned the butter and added a pinch of salt to the brownie batter and the frosting, because I’m like that. And ooooweeee, it was good! These changes added a bit more depth and flavor to an already over-the-top-scrumptious dessert. So, be like a King and get yours! 
BUTTERSCOTCH BROWNIE BATTER:
1 cup flour
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup browned butter
1 t. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional—I eliminated this for texture reasons) 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brown butter in small saucepan. Whisk the rest dry ingredients together; add eggs and vanilla to butter and whisk until combined. Mix butter mixture into dry ingredients until combined well. If you choose to add nuts, stir them in at this point. Pour into greased 8×8-inch baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Spread hot cake with the following:

FROSTING:
1 cup brown sugar
pinch salt
3 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine brown sugar and butter; bring to a boil stirring constantly. Add milk and boil slowly for 3 minutes. Whisk in powdered sugar until well-combined and somewhat thick. Spread on hot cake and cool. Once completely cooled, slice up brownies and try to eat only one at a time, you gluttons! 

Does this look like candy? Cause it tastes like it!

TwoCarolines_ButterscotchBrownies2

Coconut Chocolate Granola Bars

These bars are seriously MY FAVORITE ever!  They are the #1 request of my husband and his “Sea Donkey” surf crew because there’s nothing better on a road trip or for a work-out recovery.  I enjoy making them for new Mom’s, to me they were the most satisfying snack and nursing a newborn always made me feel totally famished.  We often use them as just a quick on the go breakfast or afternoon snack.  The only other bar I make are the Chocolate Date Nut Bars I posted a few months ago.  Those are amazing, but more of a smooth chocolate treat, whereas these have all sorts of dimension with chewy dates and coconut, crunchy almonds and other nuts, plus hearty oatmeal and melty chocolate.  I always double this recipe, then I cut and wrap them individually with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge.  We eat them for weeks – and you can wrap them then freeze them too!  They freeze beautifully which is another reason I always make as many as I can.  The original recipe was from Smitten Kitchen – her almond date breakfast bars were the inspiration, but I’ve made a number of changes over the years to make them my own.  This a recipe begging to be messed with – sometimes I add other nuts like those Trader Joe’s coconut cashews, or pecans, and sometimes I will add another dried fruit such as tart cherries or apricots – it always turns out epic.  Have fun and make it your own.  I’m certain you’ll love them as much as we do!

1 cup chopped dried pitted dates (I buy them whole and chop them with some flour on my cutting board and knife)
1 1/4 cup quick rolled oats
3 tablespoons barely or whole wheat flour
1/3 cup wheat germ (or wheat bran)
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds (you can use other nuts too)
1/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened is fine, but you may want to use a bit less honey)
1/3 cup chocolate chips (I prefer the mini ones when I have them)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat your oven to 350.  Line an 8×8 pan with parchment laying it in an X going first in one direction than perpendicularly in the other so you can easily pull out your bars when they are done.  I almost always double the above recipe and bake them in a 9×13 – but we eat these for days and like to have enough to give away so suit yourself.
  2. Stir together the dates, oats, flour, wheat germ, almonds (or whatever nuts you’re using) coconut, and chocolate chips.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the salt, cinnamon, almond butter, coconut oil, honey, and extracts until smooth.  Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir them until the dry ingredients are evenly coated.  Spread the batter in the prepared pan, pressing firmly into the bottom, edges and corners to ensure they are molded to the shape of the pan.  It’s handy to use a piece of plastic wrap or parchment while you do this so your hands don’t get super sticky.
  4. Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes until they are brown around the edges and there’s a little color on the top too.
  5. Cool the bars in their pan placed on a cooling rack.  After 20-30 minutes you can pull them up with your parchment sling and put that on the rack to speed the cooling process.  I recommend cooling them in the fridge for about 30 minutes before cutting.  I forgot to do this last time, which made them a little crumbly when cutting.  If they are a little chilled they are easier to cut.  I like to take the cut bars and wrap them individually then put them in a gallon bag in the fridge or even freeze half of them and enjoy them for weeks and months!

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen Almond Date Breakfast Bars in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman.

Oatmeal Fudge Bars

I very much love brownies and bars because in addition to being delicious, they are so quick, easy and satisfying.  You don’t always have time to make a special cake or pie, so brownies and bars are the ultimate lazy bakers delight.  This is one of the reasons twocarolines.com has dozens of amazing ones to choose from, which will not stop us from adding to the list frequently.  Whenever I come across a recipe I haven’t made before that looks great, I hop to it.  These ones were unique and you can make them a variety of ways.  In fact, I was in a rush and forgot to add the oatmeal to the bottom batter, so I laid a layer of it on top of the chocolate, swirled it in, and then dolloped the rest of the dough on and no one complained a bit!  I’m posting as recommended though, because next time I won’t forget and I think it would be an even cooler texture experience.  Either way, you’ll love these chewy, gooey, chocolatey oatmeal fudge bars.

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 can (14 0unce) sweetened condensed milk
1 package or 12 ounces chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional – I opted out of those so my kids wouldn’t turn up their picky noses)

  1.  Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan – I just laid down parchment which worked out great, but if you grease with butter or even spray that will work well too.  Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large mixer bowl cream the butter and brown sugar then add the eggs one at at time and the vanilla.
  3. In a small bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt then add that to the creamed mixture.  Mix in the oats.
  4. In a heavy saucepan, mix the sweetened condensed milk with the chocolate chips and butter, heat until just melted and you can whisk it smooth.  Stir in the vanilla and nuts if using.  Spread two thirds of brown sugar dough into prepared baking pan.  Spread the chocolate mixture on top, then drop remaining one third of brown sugar dough on top by spoonfuls.  Even out the top in a pretty way.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes – be sure it’s not still doughy when you take it out, you can tell when it’s set and a toothpick will come out with moist crumbs not wet dough.  Cool for a good 15 minutes at least then cut into bars.  Makes about 36.

Recipe adapted from Lion House Classics Cookbook Oatmeal Fudge Bars

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies by twocarolines.com

My sister with the same name and I are so much alike that we often go on binges with the same flavors, which is why there has been a lot happening in the chocolate peanut butter world of late.  We are trying to crave other things and bake them for you, but this  was a recipe that showed up on the back of my Bob’s Red Mill flour and I could not deny it access to my mouth.  They are a very chocolatey brownie with awesome texture and the perfect crispy top and edges that all brownie kids want.  Plus, how pretty is that swirl action?!

For brownie bars:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (these would be awesome with a dark chocolate or milk chocolate as well)IMG_2282
8 tablespoons butter (1 stick) cut into quarters
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour

For peanut butter swirl:
3 tablespoons butter melted
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Heat oven to 350.  Line an 8 inch baking pan with parchment criss-crossing and leave the edges hanging over the sides.  Spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a pyrex or other heatproof bowl microwave the chocolate and butter, 30 seconds at a time stirring and repeating between until smooth and melted.  Whisk in the cocoa powder until all smooth and set aside.
  3. For peanut butter swirl combine melted butter, peanut butter, powdered sugar, salt and vanilla in a bowl and stir until smooth.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, salt, vanilla, and eggs until combined.  Whisk melted chocolate mixture into egg mixture.  Stir in the flour until just combined.  Do not overmix.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.  Drop dollops of peanut butter mixture on top of brownie batter and use a butter knife to swirl in the peanut butter.
  5. Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out mostly clean.  Cool on a wire rack as long as you can resist before serving.  Pull from pan using parchment liner.

Recipe from Bob’s Red Mill 2016

The Best Lemon Bars

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Lemon is not only the last name of one of my favorite fictional characters, but it’s also one of my favorite flavors for delectable delights. I want lemon cakes, lemon slushies, and lemon bars non-stop! Like any good San Franciscan at heart, I have a deep and abiding love for Tartine. I make it a point of going there every time I visit home and, of course I have their cookbook. I made their lemon bars years ago and it’s been a family favorite ever since. My sister always requests these from me and I recently obliged, so I thought I’d pass on the love.

Crust:
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup pine nuts pulverized in a food processor

Filling:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
lemon zest from one lemon
6 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
pinch of salt (whisking eggs with salt helps to denature (relax) the protein in the eggs and breaks them up more quickly and thoroughly.)

Confectioner’s sugar to top

Preheat the oven to 350° F. butter a 9×13″ baking pan.

To make the crust, sift the confectioners sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour and stir to mix. Add the butter and pine nuts and beat on a low speed just until a smooth dough forms. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and press evenly into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. It should be about 1/4 inch thick. To help even out the crust, use the flat bottom of any type of cup, pressing down firmly. Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights (I used beans cause I didn’t have any weights). Bake the crust until it colors evenly to a deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees if the crust appears to be baking unevenly.

While the crust is baking, make the filling: sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk until blended. add the lemon juice and zest and stir to dissolve the sugar. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolk with the salt. Add the eggs to the lemon juice mixture and whisk until well mixed.

When the crust is ready, pull out the oven rack holding the crust and pour the filling directly into the hot pan. (It is easiest to pour the custard into the pan if the pan is in the oven.) If the crust has come out of the oven and cooled before you have finished making the filling, put it back in for a few minutes so that it is hot when the custard is poured into it. Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F and bake just until the center of the custard is no longer wobbly, 30 to 40 minutes.

Let cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and chill well before cutting. Using a sharp knife, cut into 12 squares, or as desired. If you like, dust the tops of the squares with confectioners’ sugar. They will keep in an airtight container or well covered in the baking dish in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

-CK 1.0

Recipe from Tartine

Chocolate Date Nut Bars

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Chocolate Date Nut Bars by twocarolines.com

These are the best breakfast treat/ energy bar/ snack your kids will actually eat / straight up chocolate dessert EVER!  You don’t officially bake them, however you do need to toast the oats and nuts, so there’s an oven involved, but they are conspicuously missing flour and sugar, which is something you’ll notice happens almost never times in my posts, and probably don’t get used to it.  But seriously, I love these too much not to share.   After I cut them into the above squares I cut many of those in half so I can have some smaller portions for when a little afternoon pick-me-up is needed, because an entire square is quite filling.  I especially love sharing these with Mom’s of new babies because I haven’t met a better nursing snack.  And who doesn’t love a treat of the chocolate variety that is still giving you fruity fiber from dates, whole grain oats, plus the satisfying protein of nuts?  I invite you to get creative with this recipe, my guess is they would taste great replacing pecans with cashews or even pistachios.

2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 (heaping) cup pecans
1 cup slivered almonds (I usually use sliced which work great)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pitted dates chopped in half
1 1/3 cup dark chopped chocolate (chocolate chips work, but I love using decadent rich chocolate like this Scharffen Berger chocolate that has incredible flavor)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 and line 2 rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Toast pecans on one and oats on the other rotating them a time or two.  I do this for about 10 minutes on the oats and 7 or so with the nuts because you only want them fragrant, not burnt.  The original recipe says to toast the almonds as well, but mine always burn so if I do put almonds in it’s only for a few minutes – the bars are fantastic even if your almonds aren’t toasted.
  2. Put the oats and the nuts into a large capacity food processor (save parchment). Let cool about 20 minutes then add the dates and salt and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Next add the chopped chocolate and vanilla and mix until all combined.  You may need to take a spatula and mix some of the dry into the chocolate here and there, but usually it all just comes together after a few long sessions in the food processor.
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    wrapped date nut bars by twocarolines.com

    Use the parchment from toasting nuts to line an 8×8 both ways so you can lift the ends up to easily deliver your bars.  If you don’t have parchment around it’s not that big a deal, just spray your 8×8 and they should come out pretty well.  Push your mixture into the pan pressing the top to make it all flat and uniform then put in the fridge for a good hour or so.  Once they are cold they are easy to cut into bars and I then wrap the bars individually with plastic wrap and keep them in the fridge until I need a perfect snack.  

 

Dark Chocolate Spelt Brownies

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Spelt brownies by twocarolines.com

Oh Brownies, with your fudgy, chewy, gooey, crunchy edged, chocolatey goodness, you have my heart.  Like most chocolate lovers, I’m just a general fan, however I have decided the last few years that box brownies are a waste of my time, especially when they are so easy to make from scratch, it literally takes 2 extra minutes to make delicious brownies with ingredients in your pantry now, but those super easy ones are for another day.  These ones aren’t hard, but you will need to chop some chocolate which I know takes a minute, and you need to buy some spelt flour, which is what gives them such an other worldly flavor.  BELIEVE ME, the reward for your efforts is so amazing you will make these again and again.  They are so over the top chocolatey because of the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder, plus the spelt gives them an almost nutty flavor that contrasts with the little bit of coarse salt to make your mouth go absolutely bonkers.  Of all the many brownies I love, these are my favorite, seriously, #1, hands down.  Make them this minute and let us know what you think!

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, plus more for pan
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably 70 percent cacao, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup spelt flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush an 8-inch square baking pan with butter or cooking spray. Line with parchment, leaving a slight overhang on 2 sides. Butter or spray parchment.

  2. Place butter and 6 ounces of the chocolate (about 1 1/4 cups) in a large heatproof bowl. (reserve 3 ounces or about 1/3 a cup chocolate to put in your batter at the end) I use a pyrex in the microwave heating on defrost for 4 minutes or 30 seconds at a time at full power until the chocolate looses it’s shape and you can whisk it all smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk in sugars. Whisk in eggs, 1 at a time, until combined. Whisk in cocoa and salt, then fold in flour until combined. Last add the leftover chopped chocolate which adds just one more layer of chocolate gooey goodness.

  3. Pour batter into pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs, about 35 minutes – if you like your brownies extra gooey take it out closer to 31-2. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Lift out brownies with parchment overhang. Cut into 16 squares and enjoy!

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Dark chocolate spelt brownies by twocarolines

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Dark-Chocolate Spelt Brownies.