Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

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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

 

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the peanut butter and when that is combined, add the chocolate chips.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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 Chocolate Cupcakes

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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.

 

Chocolate Cake:

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

  1. For the cake.  Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 cupcake pans then spray the very bottom so your cakes come out clean.
  2. 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.
  3. Fill muffin tins about 2/3-3/4 tall depending on how tall your want your cupcakes.  You might have a bit extra.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

-CK 2.0

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Cake recipe adapted from “A Gathering of Friends” cookbook.  Vanilla Buttercream from Martha Stewart Cakes cookbook.  Chocolate Buttercream I made up.

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.  

 

Dense Dark Chocolate Brownies with Walnuts

IMG_6852How many chocolate brownie recipes can two dessert bloggers named Caroline offer to you……more than you might think! If you click the “brownies and bars” category on the lower right column of our site you will get literally DOZENS of incredible square shaped treats.  There’s the super basic but practically perfect Kristin’s Brownies, my personal obsession Spelt Brownies and some extra fun layered bars like Buckeye Brownies, S’mores Brownies or Butterscotch Brownies – all of which I very enthusiastically recommend.  Some might think adding to this category is superfluous – those people just don’t understand the chocolatey magic of a perfect brownie!  I was in the mood for some really SERIOUS chocolate, like the dense, rich, dark and melty kind that urgently pleads for a large draw of milk with every bite.  These came from “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” by Nigella Lawson.  I halved the recipe and baked them in an 8×8, which I recommend because this recipe is massive so double if you’re feeding a crowd or if your doctor told you to gain a lot of weight as fast as you can (I can’t imagine a more delicious way to do that) because I halved it some of my measurements look a little wompy, like if it’s 1 & 2/3 in the original recipe it’s 1/2 & 1/3 halved – but they worked out perfectly in an 8×8.  After a day, heat them in the microwave for 10 seconds to get maximum brownie gooeyness – that is, if they make it to day two (not likely~).  -CK 2.0

  1. 1/2 & 1/3 cups soft unsalted butter (1 stick and 5 1/2 tablespoons of another stick)
    6.5 ounces of dark bittersweet chocolate
    3 large eggs
    1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
    1/2 & 1/3 cups sugar
    3/4 cups all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon (scant) coarse salt
    2/3 cups chopped walnuts (I used less than that because I only put walnuts in half – kids are so lame about nuts!)

    1.  Preheat oven to 350 and line your brownie pan with parchment.  I lined it both ways, but you can pull them out easy enough if you just line is one side, and you can even just spray it without parchment and cut them out of the pan too! Whatever works for you.

  2. Melt the butter and chocolate together – either in a double boiler over the stove or slowly in the microwave (20 second increments until they loose their shape and you can whisk it all smooth).  In a bowl beat the eggs with the vanilla and sugar.  Measure the flour and salt into another bowl.
  3. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the nuts and flour.  (I added the nuts on 1/2 of the brownies last on top and just pushed them in and smoothed the top).  Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the bowl into the lined brownie pan.
  4. Bake for about 23-25 minutes until the top looks dried to a paler brown speckle but the middle will still be dark dense and gooey.

Recipe adapted from “How To Be A Domestic Goddess” Nigella Lawson.

Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Birdnests

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Chocolate coconut macaroon bird nest by twocarolines.com

Coconut Macaroons are the little bit messy fun and tasty sister of the French Macaroon.  The French version is always put together with expensive accessories and fancy words but the coconut macaroon is more fun and tasty, a beautiful mess of chewy goodness which makes for an ideal bird nest to hold everyones favorite seasonal candy, Cadbury mini eggs.  I was inspired by a Nigella Lawson recipe that used shredded wheat and melted chocolate for nests, which was cute, but a macaroon nest is yummier and more fun.  In my first batch I baked the eggs which made them really melty and good but they cracked so in my second I put the eggs into the nests when they were right out of the oven which worked perfectly because the hot cookies still made the eggs nice and creamy and with the chewy chocolatey cookie it’s like a little Easter miracle!

4 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sweetened dried coconut shredded or flaked.
Cadbury Mini Eggs

  1.  In a heatproof bowl melt your chocolate.  I do this in a pyrex using the microwave on defrost until the chocolate looses it’s shape and I can whisk it smooth.  If you don’t have defrost only melt in 20 second increments or you will burn your chocolate.  You can also use a double boiler if you prefer.  Set aside to cool some while you assemble the rest of your cookie ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg whites.  Add cocoa powder, sugar, salt and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.  Stir in the coconut and melted chocolate, making sure the coconut is completely coated with the chocolate mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour or until firm (doesn’t have to be completely firm, but at least firmed up enough to handle and shape).
  3. Preheat oven to 325.  Line 2 baking sheets with sil-pats or parchment paper.
  4. Place small mounds – I used a cookie scoop – on to your lined baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart.  Once they are on, shape them into nests using hands or dipping a spoon into the center.  I wore some gloves and shaped them by hand.
  5. Bake 13-15 minutes or until macaroons are shiny and just set.  Remove from oven then put your eggs in while the macaroons are still hot.  Wait about 15 minutes to serve and keep leftover cookies covered.

Macaroon recipe adapted from Joyofbaking.com 

 

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

As my loyal readers have noticed, 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! On this pi day I give you this super winning equation of chocolate + vanilla + salted caramel = PIE that will rock your world!

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.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies by twocarolines.com

It’s kind of unbelievable that I’ve never made these before – I call them chocolate crinkle cookies, but I’ve heard loads of cute names for them, some call them crackles or my favorite “snow on the mountain cookies.  They are SOOOOO good, super chocolatey and just lovely with the way the sugar gently breaks when they bake – I’m pretty sure they are responsible for a solid 3 lbs of weight gain in just a few days – just be warned that control is difficult around this level of deliciousness.  I used a pretty traditional recipe, but I added chocolate chips because: obvious.  A cool bonus is that you can make the dough and keep it in the fridge and bust out hot cookies anytime!

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

  1. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl in the microwave on defrost or in 20 second increments until it looses it’s shape and you can whisk it smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.  Beat the butter on medium speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat until smooth.  Add the melted chocolate and beat until blended.  Add the egg, vanilla and chocolate chips until all combined.  Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in batches beating well after each addition so it’s all incorporated.
  3. Transfer dough to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, a few hours or as long as overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 and either grease or parchment line 2 baking sheets.
  5. Place the confectioners sugar in a small bowl.  Shape the dough into 1 inch balls (I use a small ice cream scoop for this and it works great).  Roll each ball in the confectioners sugar coating heavily.  Place cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for about 7 minutes – until the sides bounce back when lightly touched but the middles still look a little doughy.
  6. Cool cookies on the baking sheets a few minutes – 4 or so, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from “chocolatiest crinkles” in Luscious Chocolate Desserts by Lori Longbotham.