Gingerbread Cookies

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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*
  • 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 for 1 hour (or longer), 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 1/8″ to 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.
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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 10 to 12 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: In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites tiny pinch of salt and vanilla and beat until frothy. 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. 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 dixie cups and piping them with disposable piping bags.  *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 can find.
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    Christmas Cookies by twocarolines.com

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

Thanksgiving pie line up: Let’s Make ALL the pies!

Caroline 2.0 here with this years pie guide just in time to give you a few practice pies and some fodder for family survey’s before the ultimate pie day comes!  Your friends named Caroline are bad at all sorts of things, 1.0 has a terrible sense of direction, 2.0 freaks out in an emergency and always makes it worse, but we are dang good at pie.  If you won’t be the one baking pies, go ahead and send this to the person who will, we personally guarantee a better thanksgiving if you do.

A great place to start is with our pie crust recipe and FB live tutorial video that’s on our Facebook page,   You’re going to want to offer guests a nice variety of pies.  I’m going to break it down for you in a few categories and give you some of our favorites to choose from to make it easier for you to figure out a show stopping pie offering this week.  In the King household we like to have about a half pie per person, if that seems like too much for you, I recommend no less than 3 pies for a proper Thanksgiving meal, many you can make all, or partly in advance, and the key is to offer a nice variety.  Here are a few categories to help guide you.

CHOCOLATE PIES: Duh – this is obviously the category I start with and you need a pie with chocolate or you’re table is sad 😦 There are LOADS more than what is listed below, but I’m going for favorites here and trying not to loose you with too much info so search chocolate pie for a more complete list.

  • Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse – This is one of the pies we are best known for because it is truly both Caroline’s favorite pie and one of the best tasting desserts on the planet.  It’s a little more involved than some pies because there is a meringue layer etc. so it will take a little time, but it’s not very difficult and So worth the effort.  Every time I make a selection of pies it’s the first gone without fail.
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Chocolate Granola Pie by twocarolines.com

  • Chocolate Granola Pie – This is another pie we are well known for.  I make it frequently because our family can’t get enough of it and it’s a frequent request of friends.  I also make it often because it’s SOOOO EASY!  It’s almost like a candy bar that was made in heaven, you really need to try it.
  • Double Chocolate Pecan – This pie checks two boxes which is why I keep hearing more and more people tell me that they made it and are not absolutely crazy for it.  It pops off amazing chocolate flavor and then you get that magical nuttyness you want from your pecan pie, but delivered on a chocolate train.  It’s also a cinch and great if you’re serving a smaller table and want something that satisfies the pecan pie and chocolate pie needs all in one.

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  • Chocolate Cream Pie – This is the quintessential cream pie of your dreams.  It always turns out fantastic, even when I don’t have enough bittersweet chocolate so I need to use chocolate chips, or a sub half with unsweetened, or I don’t have whole milk so I use whatever’s in the fridge.  It’s just always delicious.  It’s not the very easiest pie, so if you’re new to pie making choose one of our crazy easy chocolate pies like chocolate chess or chocolate brownie pie, but you can’t find a cream pie this creamy dreamy delicious anywhere else.
  • I need to add this year my new(ish) Black Bottom Vanilla Cream Pie with Salted Caramel sauce.  I made these for Father’s Day this year and people went absolutely crazy town over them.  It’s a great option because there’s really nothing not to like whereas with nuts, or coconut, or berries you might get a few picky pants people, it’s nice to have one pie everyone is eager to devour.
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Black Bottom Vanilla Cream Pie with salted caramel sauce by twocarolines.com

FRUIT PIES: This time of year, there isn’t loads of fruit to be found, but you can use frozen and come out with amazing results if you do it right.  Also, lemon is a fruit and you could even check this box with pumpkin or sweet potato if you wanted to.

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salted caramel apple pie by twocarolines.com

  • Salted Caramel Apple – This is one of the pies people ask me to make the most because when people think of pie they often think of apple pie and salted caramel is such a brilliant choice to compliment apples it’s a slam dunk every time.  I love to use granny smith apples and get a nice sour thing happening, but any apples will do.  It’s a bit of a time vacuum but so fun to make, and a crowd pleaser for sure.
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Blueberry crumble pie by twocarolines.com

  • Blueberry Crumble Pie – I’m obsessed with this pie, and there are a lot of blueberry pie kids out there just like me.  The crumble was my idea and it totally makes the pie in my opinion.  The last time I made this it was with almost entirely frozen berries.  I did thaw them first, but they came from the freezer section at Trader Joes and the pie set up firm and perfect and tasted absolutely incredible.  This pie with good vanilla ice cream is just insanity.  You could also do our strawberry streusel pie with frozen berries too as long as you defrost them first and discard all extra juices every change you get – that plus a long bake ensures a pie that sets up with no soupy factor. Remember a crust guard if you do a long bake so you don’t burn that beauty on the edges.
  • Lemon Cream Pie – This is a year round pie for sure – and at Thanksgiving I would say pile it high with meringue for a delicious and dramatic effect, but it’s divine and easy with whipped cream.  It’s got such mouth melting sourness and the crust is a crumb crust so there’s zero intimidation factor.  It’s a total cinch and will fulfill all your lemon needs.  But if you want a more traditional, Lemon Meringue Pie we posted one a few weeks ago that is just like your grandma’s, it’s a bit more difficult than the Lemon Cream, but worth the effort for nostalgia’s sake.

TRADITIONAL PIES: This time of year people tend to want the flavors of home, so I’m not even mad if you prefer to offer a very traditional selection.  I would put Caramel Apple Pie in this selection, but it’s sitting up there in fruit pies so click that link for sure.  My husband feels very strongly that Thanksgiving is a total fail without his Mom’s Pecan pie…..speaking of which..

  • Caramel Pecan Pie – This is such an amazing and consistently delicious pecan pie.  I have been commissioned to make it on multiple occasions and every time someone I know makes it they rave and rave.  It’s a King family classic.
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Pumpkin Dulce De Leche Pie by twocarolines.com

  • Pumpkin Dulce De Leche– I’m making this in the morning and Caroline 1.0 made it yesterday.  It’s like traditional pumpkin pie, turned up to 11.  If you’re scared of the caramel on bottom, just make the pie filling recipe – you will never buy a Costco pumpkin pie again.
  • Toasted Coconut Cream Pie – I include this because it’s the cream pie base for all my favorite and most famous cream pies.  I use it frequently to make banana cream pie which is just bonkers delicious and the recipe is the same as this, just add about 5-6 sliced bananas alternating with the filling as you fill your baked crust.  A solid cream pie is kind of a must and you can choose from many on twocarolines but this one is such a blue ribbon winner and who doesn’t love coconut!?
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Toasted Coconut Cream Pie by twocarolines

NON-TRADITIONAL PIES: I have to give a nod to some of my very favorite pies of all time that your grandma never made for you.  Having a unique pie at your table is a way to show your guests that you know how to have fun in the kitchen and then you will blow doors with flavors they might have never expected to win them over. Trust us.

  • Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie – Oh man do I love this pie, like, I love it SO MUCH you guys, and it’s so easy and the ultimate crowd pleaser.  It has amazing chocolate peanut butter flavor plus a nice layer of chocolate ganache and just enough salt in the oreo crumb crust to make your mouth flood with satisfaction.
  • Maple Lime Custard Pie – This pie came about after a neighbor brought us a bag of limes from her tree and it was such a triumph!  It has that magical citrus sourness perfectly balanced by the maple and creams.  I thought it would taste to sweet but it’s not at all, this pie sends you off the rails on a flavor train and it’s an easy crumb crust you can do with graham crackers, animal crackers, speculoo’s or whatever is in your pantry.  It’s really easy and will surprise and delight your guests.
  • Chocolate Nutella Pie – I recently posted this as a guest post on the Elevate-Everyday blog.  It kind of blew my mind – I just never knew a big cup of Nutella could add so much rich and complex nutty chocolate flavor to a pie.  I went all out and added toasted hazelnuts which took some time but was such a special treat and I have to say this pie ended up on the shortlist of favorites right away.
  • S’mores Pie – Who is the person that doesn’t like s’mores and why did you invite them to your holiday feast?!  This pie that CK 2.0 posted a few months ago has had such a following because it’s everything that’s right about the perfect s’more wrapped up into a beautiful pie shell and presented as an elegant dessert instead of a campfire sticky finger concoction.  Don’t wait until summer to enjoy the made for each other combo of chocolate graham crackers and marshmallows.

Two Carolines S'mores Pie

Bon Appetit’s Amazing Apple Cider Doughnuts

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These Apple Cider Doughnuts go with tea, hot chocolate, hunger, anything because they are tops

Every Halloween season, I look forward to carrying on the family tradition of making donuts and wassail and sharing with my friends. I’ve always made my dad’s grandma’s recipe but this year, I saw a post from Bon Appetit about their Apple Cider Doughnut recipe and saw that it had APPLE BUTTER in the ingredients list and I was totally sold. You can keep the dough chilled in the fridge for a day, so it’s easy to make ahead, or do what I did and make two batches—cooking them one day apart.

Normally I like to alter a recipe that I find from another source if I post it to the blog—even just a little bit—but this was so perfect that I followed it exactly. So get to your local grocery store and get some cider and some apple butter and taste this glory!

Ingredients

  • 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • ½ cup apple butter
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Vegetable oil (for frying; about 4 cups)

Special Equipment

  • A 3¼-inch-diameter cutter, 1¼-inch-diameter cutter, deep-fry thermometer (my batteries ran out for my thermometer, so I sort of guessed and put the heat on med-high and tested a doughnut hole to make sure they were frying correctly)
  • I used my ceramic coated cast-iron pot and I had more even results with the temperature than other methods I’ve tried.

Directions

  1. Bring cinnamon sticks and apple cider to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until liquid is thick, syrupy, and reduced to about ⅓ cup, 20–30 minutes. Scrape into a medium bowl and whisk in apple butter, buttermilk, and vanilla until incorporated; set aside.

  2. Whisk baking powder, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, 3½ cups flour, and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, brown sugar, and ¼ cup granulated sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 2 additions, alternating with cider mixture in 2 additions, starting with dry ingredients and ending with cider mixture (dough will be very soft and sticky).

  3. Scrape dough onto a parchment lined-rimmed baking sheet thoroughly dusted with flour (about ⅓ cup). Dust hands and top of dough with more flour, then gently pat dough to ¾” thick. (Dough will be really sticky!) Dust with more flour and tightly cover with plastic wrap; chill dough at least 3 hours.

  4. Whisk remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 Tbsp. cinnamon in a small bowl until no lumps remain. (We ended up using more than this)

  5. Working on baking sheet, punch out as many rounds as you can with 3¼” cutter, then use 1¼” cutter to punch out center of each round. Gather doughnut scraps, reserving holes, and gently re-roll without overworking dough; repeat until all dough has been used (you should have 18 doughnuts).

  6. Set a wire rack inside a paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet. Fit a large pot with deep-fry thermometer and pour in oil to a depth of 3″. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 350°. Working in batches (I did about 4 donuts at a time), fry doughnuts until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to prepared rack and let cool slightly. Fry doughnut holes until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to prepared rack and let cool slightly. Toss warm doughnuts and doughnut holes in cinnamon sugar.

    Do Ahead: Dough can be made 1 day ahead; cover and chill.

 

-CK 1.0

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 

 

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

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This time of year we want ALL the spices. Cloves, allspice, cinnamon and—my personal favorite—ginger! And that’s not just because I get called “Ginger Lady” when I visit Turkey. I want all the ginger drinks and edibles! These cookies are the product of two recipes that I really, really like. So I thought they’d make the ultimate “power cookie”. They are super soft and chewy but you can bake them a little bit longer if you want more of a crisp cookie experience.  -CK 1.0

1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 oil
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 egg

2 c flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I use 70% cacao Lindt bars, but you could use chocolate chips in a pinch)
Sugar for rolling

  1. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together dry ingredients.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat brown sugar, oil, ginger and egg, until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
  3. Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. Mix in chocolate chunks; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until just before the surfaces crack, but not too doughy—about 7 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Pecan Pie

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Caramel Pecan Pie by twocarolines.com

A King family classic and my hubs very most favorite of all of the many pies we eat, so this is MAJOR.  It’s such a perfect crunchy, melty, nutty sensation and it’s a dessert with an old world kind of royal presence that puts a jeweled crown on top of any meal it’s accompanied with.  This recipe came straight from the pie master general Joyce King.  She used to go half corn syrup and half maple syrup but lately she’s been making it full tilt maple which you think will be too sweet but it’s actually less sweet and more of a flavorful knockout than with just the corn syrup.  Of course the pie will turn out and be adored with whatever variety you use, but we recommend the splurge of maple syrup, you won’t regret it.  I was recently commissioned to make this pie for a birthday which is why there is a rather unsightly aluminum pie pan, but the recipients praised it to the last crumb!  And bonus, it’s one of the easiest pies ever! -CK 2.0

1  9″ traditional unbaked pie shell.  We recommend our King Family Pie Crust found here on the blog
3 eggs
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup maple syrup (or you can use all corn syrup or half corn syrup and half maple syrup.  We love the trader joe’s grade B maple syrup – it’s a splurge that’s well worth it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup whole pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare your pie crust
  2. Beat eggs and sugar then add butter, syrup and vanilla
  3. Evenly spread your pecans into your unbaked pie crust then pour your filling over the nuts making sure they are nicely distributed.
  4. Bake for about 45 minutes, it’s okay for your pie to still jiggle in the middle – just a jiggle, not liquid.  Just make sure the sides are set when you take it out – it will set up as it cools, which takes a solid hour or two.
  5. Serve with heaps of vanilla ice cream or fresh whip cream and enjoy!