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
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)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chop walnuts and carefully press them into the top of your cake. Keep at room temperature and enjoy!
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Walnuts by twocarolines.com
chocolate peanut butter cake by twocarolines.com
As our readers know, the love Caroline’s have for desserts of the peanut butter chocolate variety is SERIOUS! We have brought you some pretty amazing C&PB combo’s like the amazing double chocolate peanut butter pie, 1.0’s famous peanut butter banana chocolate chip cake, or our much loved peanut butter buckeye brownies plus many more. Now I bring you one of my favorite cakes of all time – this chocolate peanut butter cake is all the things you want your C&PB desserts to be! Rich chocolatey flavor, and creamy delicious peanut butter frosting plus a luxey ganache filling that sets it all off perfectly. I make this cake all the time, but it usually get’s eaten so fast I can never get a picture! This was a commissioner my friend Melissa- it’s hard when you make your favorite cake but can’t eat it! But they LOVED it and so will you! -CK 2.0
Cake: (this is my go-to chocolate cake recipe – but use your favorite, this one always turns out ultra moist and delicious but any standard chocolate cake recipe would work)
- 1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix
- 1 3.4 oz box jello instant chocolate pudding (not the fat/sugar free)
- 1/2 cup melted butter, coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 eggs lightly beaten (room temp works best)
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 stick (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand like Jiff or Skippy
- For the cake. Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9″ cake pans with parchment and either butter or spray them then set aside.
- Lightly mix together the cake mix and pudding mix then in a separate bowl mix your eggs water, oil (or butter) and vanilla well, until all the eggs are incorporated. Add the wet mixture into the cake mix making sure to mix it thoroughly for a few minutes, and then add the sour cream blending until no white streaks remain. Last add the chocolate chips and just fold them in with a spatula so they are evenly distributed. The batter is quite thick, but it bakes up really nice so don’t be nervous about the texture.
- Pour evenly into your cake pans and level out with a spatula. Bake for about 22-25 minutes checking for doneness with a toothpick. The top of the cakes spring back when done and the cake just barely starts to pull from the sides of the pan. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely while you make your frosting and ganache.
- Next I make the ganache and then the frosting because you need to pipe frosting around the bottom of your layer cake in order to hold the ganache in the middle while it cools. The ganache can start to cool down and thicken while you make the frosting.
- For the ganache: Put the chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl – I use 4 cup pyrex for this. Heat slowly in the microwave either on defrost or in 20 second intervals at full power until the chocolate starts to loose it’s shape and you can whisk it smooth. You can also heat the chocolate and cream in a double boiler, but I find the microwave method much easier.
- For the frosting: In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
- Once the cakes have cooled, level the tops with a long serrated knife, unless you don’t care about having a neat looking cake, but this makes frosting easier and it gives you a little snack while you work. Put the first layer on a plate or cake board and pipe with either a piping bag or just a bag made from parchment a dam of frosting around the diameter of the bottom layer that will hold in your ganache when you pour it in. You may have some extra ganache – I used it last time to put on the top of my cake which you can do, or just save it for something else. Now take your ganache and pour it into the middle of that bottom layer spreading out but taking care not to let it go over the edge or over the edge of your frosting layer – this is why you made a frosting dam, to hold in your ganache and keep your second layer of cake from squishing it.
- Let that cool for 10 minutes or so then put the second cake layer on – neat side up and plop a large amount of frosting on top. Using an offset spatula spread the peanut butter frosting taking care to only touch your spatula to the frosting, and not to the cake so you don’t drag crumbs. Work your frosting around the top, pushing it slowly from the middle, and then around the sides scraping the extra into a paper towel so you don’t drag crumbs. A spinning cake pedestal helps, but you can do this by just turning a plate. Once you have a uniform and neat cake you can decorate with extra ganache, chocolate curls, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or whatever you would like.
- Keep plastic where you’ve cut your cake so it doesn’t dry out, but you’re not likely to have any extra!
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Winter brings out my love of comfort food. I just want to consume classic, easy, basic foods. I have been thinking about Pineapple Upside-Down cake for a while now because of that delicate caramelized layer of brown sugar and butter and fruit. I researched a lot of options and landed on this divine recipe that I slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour. If you are feeling like rewarding your tastebuds with joy, I suggest giving this little number a go.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 20-ounce cans pineapple rings in juice, drained
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 2/3 cups flour
- 1 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking dish.
- To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
- Cut the Pineapple rings in half and arrange on brown sugar mixture in staggered rows or in any pattern you desire. (I had a few rings leftover that didn’t fit)
- To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.
- Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.
- Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.
- Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan.
- Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. (Mine took closer to 40 or so minutes)
- Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate (You’ll need a big one for this size of dish). Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting by twocarolines.com
Oh bananas, chocolate and peanut butter, you have our whole heart! We salute you here on two carolines with not, 5, not 10, but literally dozens of recipes and we’re not even done yet! This is a wonderful mash up of 1.0’s famous banana peanut butter chocolate chip cake with my (2.0 duh) renowned peanut butter chocolate cake frosting – and trust me, it’s all that is right in the world to combine these two masterful recipes into one dessert. Grab those spotty bananas and buy a big bag of pow sug because these are going to need to be added to your summer bucket list STAT! -CK 2.0
For the cupcakes:
4 very ripe bananas
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup peanut butter (use creamy or crunchy according to texture preference, but probably creamy, and not the kind you have to stir)
2 cups chocolate chips
For the frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand like Jiff or Skippy
- Set oven to 350. Line two muffin tins and spray just a touch of cooking spray (I use coconut for most bakes) into the bottom of each one.
- In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork or potato masher. Add the eggs and vanilla, and stir well to combine. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon—then add to the banana mixture.
- Add the peanut butter and when that is combined, add the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into your lined muffin tin up to 3/4 full then bake one at a time for about 17-19 minutes (you know your oven, check for doneness with a toothpick).
- For the frosting -In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.
- Put a large star tip (I use all of these large tips regularly for cupcakes, macaroons and all manner of sweets) into a big piping bag and seal the end with plastic wrap or a clamp then drape your bag on a very tall glass or I always use a vase. Fill your piping bag with frosting then pipe a cute swirl of PB frosting onto each cupcake, once they’ve cooled. This frosting and cake keep fine at room temperature but keep them in a sealed container for freshness. If you don’t have a piping bag and tips just spread it on top of your cupcakes however you want.
Quintessential Cupcakes by twocarolines.com
I’m introducing you to the most perfect party companion ever. These cupcakes are always so moist, rich and chocolatey with a bit of sour for balance and the most perfect springy texture, they are consistently amazing and so easy it’s embarrassing. Of course this recipe works great as a layer cake, in a bundt, or just poured into a 9X13, just be sure to check doneness instead of bake times. I made this batch for a sweet baby boy’s 1st birthday and thought it would be more fun to have two kinds of frosting for the kids to choose from, I will post both but I only made half of each for 24 cupcakes. If you don’t feel like making frosting I’m sure you’ll enjoy them with a little ganache glaze or even just sprinkled with powdered sugar.
1 box pillsbury devils food cake mix
1 3.4 oz box jello instant chocolate pudding (not the fat/sugar free)
1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs lightly beaten (room temp works best)
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup chocolate chips
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
1/2 cup butter at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 a box) room temperature
5 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
1/3 cup butter
2-3 ounces cream cheese
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (might need a bit more if frosting is too thick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
- For the cake. Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans then spray the very bottom so your cakes come out clean.
- Lightly mix together the cake mix and pudding mix then in a separate bowl mix your eggs water, oil (or butter) and vanilla well until all the eggs are incorporated. Add the wet mixture into the cake mix making sure to mix it thoroughly for a few minutes, and then add the sour cream blending until no white streaks remain. Last add the chocolate chips and just fold them in with a spatula so they are evenly distributed. The batter is quite thick, but it bakes up really nice so don’t get scared.
- Fill muffin tins about 2/3-3/4 tall depending on how tall your want your cupcakes. You might have a bit extra.
- Bake at 350 for about 19-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean (bake times vary for 9″ pans, bundts etc. so check doneness with a toothpick before taking out).
- For the vanilla buttercream – mix butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until well combined and a little fluffed up. Add sugar and milk alternating, then vanilla. I usually end up adding a little more sugar or milk until I reach desired texture.
- For the chocolate buttercream – melt butter and mix with cream cheese until well combined. Add about half the milk to this mixture then start to add your cocoa and sugar in alternating batches ending with sugar. Add vanilla and salt anytime. Put in the rest of the milk and make sure you scrape down the sides of the pan often and just like the vanilla buttercream have extra milk and sugar on hand to get to your desired texture.
- I think it’s easiest and pretty to pipe on your frosting for cupcakes. I use these handy Wilton disposable piping bags and I just cut them and put in my large frosting tip then put the bag into a tall vase with the edges pulled over the top to fill it up and pipe it on to my cupcakes. So easy, and looks pretty good for someone who’s not the worlds best decorator.
Cake recipe adapted from “A Gathering of Friends” cookbook. Vanilla Buttercream from Martha Stewart Cakes cookbook. Chocolate Buttercream I made up.
Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake by twocarolines.com
The makings of a perfect weekend must include breakfast sweets, a fact well supported by our ever growing plethora of sweet breads, muffins and coffee cakes. The one I make the most is our Apple Cake, which is awesome, and in the summer I like to use fruit and will often do a blueberry crumb cake which is also a treat. But this weekend I wanted something substantial and classic, and this cake is the ultimate brunchy crunchy chewy cinnamony streusel and glaze topped champion of all great coffee cakes! There’s so much that’s right about it – I really felt like I was staying at a fancy New York hotel or something with every bite- it’s simple, but has an elegant balanced delicious taste and the heavy crumb on top is the key to all breakfast cake successes. -CK 2.0
For the Streusel:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (Martha calls for an entire teaspoon, but I like it better with just a touch of the coarse salt then you get just that tingle of salty sweet, but you could also do 1/2 teaspoon of table salt)
3/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts (to toast – but on a cookie sheet in a 350 oven for about 7-9 minutes until lightly toasted and fragrant)
For the Cake:
1/2 cup butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt (or 1/2 table salt)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
For the Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons whole milk (I used 2 buttermilk and one whole milk)
- Make the Streusel top and middle layers: Mix together flour, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or rub in with your fingers until small to medium clumps form. Mix in 1/2 cup nuts. Refrigerate topping until ready to use. Make the streusel center: Mix together remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 cup nuts, reserve for layering into the center of the batter.
- Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9-inch tube pan with a removable bottom (you can use a springform pan also. I used a 9×13 which is trickier to get the layer in the center to work out so I recommend a round pan). Sift flour baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
- With an electric mixer on medium beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with 2 batches of the sour cream. Beat until well combined.
- Transfer half of the batter to the prepared pan. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Top with remaining batter; spread evenly with an offset spatula. Sprinkle streusel topping evenly onto batter.
- Bake until cake is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove cake from pan; transfer to a parchment lined work surface or serving platter.
- Make the Glaze: Mix together the confectioners sugar and milk. drizzle over cake allowing glaze to drop down the sides. Let sit a few minutes before serving.
Cinnamon Coffee Cake by twocarolines.com
Recipe adapted from Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake – Martha Stewart Cakes Book
Toasted Smore’s Cake by twocarolines.com
I am dubbing this “the cake of summer” with it’s toasty outsides and chocolate graham crackery insides. It’s such a classic combo and in this cake, the messy, campy, summery dessert we think of as “smores” gets all dressed up and really puts on a show. I made this for my now 3 year old’s first birthday and people went nuts for it, but I wanted the cake itself to have more flavor and I also felt that using a darker more fancy chocolate for the ganache filling would create more of a flavor sensation. I decided to make it for my Summer themed dinner party last weekend and I adjusted accordingly resulting in knockout flavor and jaw dropping beauty in it’s presentation. Original recipe is linked below, but I had a few people who tried both versions and were absolutely blown away by my more flavorful smores cake v2.0.
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter, softened
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup honey graham cracker crumbs food processed into a fine crumb (85 grams or around 7 of the 4 piece sheets)
1 cup speculoos or biscoff cookies processed into a fine crumb (85 grams)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken (or 1 1/3 cups milk and 2/3 cup sour cream)
1/2 pound dark chocolate chopped small (I love the trader joes 72 percent pound plus)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 pinches salt
4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- First make the cake. Preheat oven to 350. Spray or butter two 9 inch round cake pans (this cake is high volume, so if you have 9 1/2 it might work a little better, but 9 inch works, just keep an eye or put them on a cookie sheet to avoid spills). Line your cake pans with circles of parchment paper, with most cakes, you can skip this step, but this is a moist and sticky cake and lining with parchment makes a big difference in how they come out so please do this. Coat parchment and pan with more cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cracker and cookie crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl down after each addition. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then half the buttermilk, a third of the dry ingredients, the remaining buttermilk, and then the remaining dry ingredients, mixing between additions until combined. Scrape down the bowl, and mix again briefly if needed.
- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans, smoothing tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack, then run a knife between the cake edges and pans before turning out onto a rack to cool. Let cool completely, a process you can speed up in the fridge.
- To make the filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Combine the heavy cream and salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer. Pour over the chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk until smooth. Set bowl over another bowl filled with ice water, and stir it until it firms up to a spreadable consistency. You can let it cool down in the fridge, but it works best if you stir it every now and then so it cools evenly.
- To prepare the cake arrange a single layer on a serving platter, cake stand or cake board. For a neat looking cake, use a long serrated knife to level the top gently – they don’t puff up super big as some cakes do so it won’t be a lot, and you will find plenty of people willing to eat your cake scraps. Spread the chocolate thickly over the bottom layer. Place top layer over it and level this one too if you would like.
- To make the frosting place the egg whites, granulated sugar and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch – about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the bowl to an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat starting at a low speed, gradually increasing to the high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 4-7 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until combined. You will want to use this frosting right away, it won’t keep well.
- Spread a thin layer of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake covering all the crumbs. Transfer cake to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to let it set. Next generously coat the top and sides with additional frosting making a pretty pattern. You could even pipe on big pretty peaks, but I just made it look artistic and delicious. Remove any flammable objects and people from the cake area and with a kitchen torch on a low setting, lightly brown the outside of your cake creating a toasted marshmallow effect.
smore’s cake by twocarolines.com
Recipe adapted from S’more layer cake – Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman