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King’s Spritz Cookies

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

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

Ingredients: IMG_9834

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

2 1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

decorative sugar 

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

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

Gingerbread Cookies

img_4923 Gingerbread Cookies by twocarolines.com

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

For the Cookies:

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

For the Icing:

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

Directions:

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

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

Pfeffernüsse

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

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

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

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

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

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

TwoCarolines_Pfeffernüsse_3.jpg

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

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

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

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

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

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Chocolate Crinkle Cookies by twocarolines.com

This is a chocolate cookie CLASSIC! I call them chocolate crinkle cookies, but I’ve heard loads of cute names for them, such as “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.

Coconut Snowball Cake

IMG_2208
Coconut Snowball Cake by twocarolines.com

It’s been years since I posted this twocarolines classic and the birthday of my dear friend Steph last weekend reminded me how delicious her favorite Caroline cake is. I’m far away from her so I can’t bring her snowball cake this year so I’m posting it instead in her honor.

This cake is inspired by my brother in law Bob. I asked him what cake he would most want for the wedding reception of his beautiful daughter Aly and he said “white cake with pink frosting” – didn’t sound that good to me TBH. This combination reminding him of convenience store treats of his youth, like Grandma’s Cookies, Hostess Zingers and Snowballs, the nostalgic memory of these childhood treats inspired me! I decided to make a white coconut cake, with this coconut frosting I usually put on chocolate cake then just smother it in coconut flakes so it has the effect of a hostess treat, but with homemade goodness.  The result was a resounding success, people went nuts for it!  And just to make life easy I was able to doctor a cake mix for the cake and it was honestly so perfectly moist, bouncy and delicious I’m glad I didn’t make the cake totally from scratch.   I used some pink dye just for Bobby J, but this would be extra pretty keeping all ingredients white as well, do what makes you feel good.

For the Cake:
1 package white cake mix (I used pillsbury, but any should work)
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons warm water
3 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract

For the Frosting:
16 ounces or 1 box powdered sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 sticks or 3/4 cup butter
4 ounces cream cheese cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon coconut
1 drop red or pink food coloring if using
3 cups shredded coconut (I mix normal sweetened coconut with unsweetened wide flake coconut I buy from Sprouts because I think it’s so pretty)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 – spray or parchment line two 9 inch baking pans.  I spray and parchment line because I’m careful like that, but do what works for you.  It’s also a good time to get out your cream cheese and butter for the frosting so they can come to room temperature.
  2. Mix sour cream, oil, water, extracts and eggs one at a time making sure they are all incorporated, then add cake mix and mix for a few minutes making a consistent batter.
  3. Pour into your prepared cake pans trying to get them as even as possible (I put them on a scale but that’s because I’m a dessert blogger and want my business to look legit – you could probably eye ball it and get close enough to even).  Bake for about 25-28 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cakes are risen and browned nicely.  Let cool 5-10 minutes then turn out of pans and let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. For the frosting, mix together the cream cheese, butter and boiling water then start to slowly add the powdered sugar making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl, last mix in the coconut extract.  Put your frosting in the fridge to get it a little thickened for 20 minutes or so.
  5. To frost, cut the round top off your bottom layer, then turn, cut side down onto a cake board or plate.  Pile a big glop of frosting onto this layer and spread out being sure to only touch your frosting spatula to the frosting and never to cake, just to the ends.  Next even out your next layer by cutting the round top then plop that on top of your frosted layer cut side down.  Put most of your frosting on top of the cake and spread out slowly – being careful to only touch the frosting and not the cake so you don’t pull up crumbs.  If you do, wash off our spatula and get more frosting to cover, there will be some left over.  Spread the top so it goes past the border of the cake then take frosting and scoop it on to your spreading spatula as you go along the sides turning your cake so you get a nice even layer all around the sides.  Last do a nice back and forth or a circular swirl on top then before it hardens press your coconut into the top and sides of the cake.  It’s helpful to have something under it so clean-up is easier.  Serve at room temperature – keeps for a good 3 days or more if you keep it covered.

 

Blueberry Crumble Pie

 

IMG_3812
Blueberry crumble pie by twocarolines.com

I’m here to tell you with conviction that you can eat berry pies all through the winter!  Blueberry pie is not always the most popular, people kind of love it or feel ehh about it, but I’m a fan, and I felt that instead of double crusting it, a nice heavy oat crumble would do wonders with some blueberry goodness.  I was super right about that.  Not only did this pie have amazing flavor with the sweet berries, lemon, cinnamon and sugar, but the texture was fruit pie perfection!  Whenever you make a fruit pie you must send up a prayer that it sets up and you don’t end up with soup.  This little number sets up like a champion every time! Sturdy slices, but still so juicy and with that delicious oatmeal crunch on top, hands down best blueberry pie I’ve EVER HAD! And frozen blueberries are just fine, put them in the fridge the day before and STRAIN ALL JUICES! Trust me on that one, and be sure to have some good quality vanilla ice cream on hand because that combination will send you! -CK 2.0

Crust:

  • Traditional 9″ Pie Crust – we like King Family Pie Crust the best, but make or buy whatever crust you like and line a 9 inch pan.

Filling:

  • 6 cups blueberries fresh (or frozen works too as long as you thaw them and drain ALL the juices.  You will probably need to measure 8 cups frozen because once they thaw the volume goes way down)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar (I reduced because there is sugar in the streusel, but if your berries aren’t sweet go to 1/2)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon

Oat Crumble:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (if you don’t have the above spices, just increase cinnamon to 1/2)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes at room temperature

 

  1.  Make your crust and roll out into a 9″ pie pan.  Keep in fridge or freezer while you prepare your filling.
  2. To make the filling: Put the blueberries first in a strainer to make sure you have no extra juices, then place them in a bowl with the lemon juice and stir to coat.  Separately combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and cardamon.  Mix them thoroughly then add them to the blueberries stirring until all combined.  Take filling out of bowl with a slotted spoon leaving any extra juices out of your filling.  Spread filling into prepared crust and put it in the refrigerator to set while you make your crumble.  The recipe says to let it set 30 minutes, but mine set up perfectly and it was only in there about 15.
  3. Set oven to 425.  To make the oat crumble stir together all the ingredients except the butter in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the butter pieces and toss to coat.  Rub the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is chunky but not homogeneous.  Put on your pie and let chill for another 5 minutes or so.
  4. Bake (on a baking sheet if it looks pretty full so you don’t leak onto the oven) for 20 minutes at 425 then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the juices are bubbling and your crumble is a gorgeous brown.  I put a pie shield on my crust or you can put some little foils strips around the edge to avoid the crust getting too brown on the outside.  Cool on a wire rack at least 2 hours before slicing, then chill in the fridge.  Serve with a really thick vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Blueberry Pie recipe adapted from Mrs. Rowe’s little book of Southern Pies and Oat Crumble from Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book 

Tres Leches Cake

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tres leches cake by twocarolines.com

Prior to this I had never even had Tres Leches Cake and didn’t think I particularly needed to, but I was randomly watching Pioneer woman one day while folding laundry and she whipped up one of these and it looked super amazing and unique.  I followed her recipe except for adding some cinnamon to the whip cream frosting because it’s an insanely delicious secret I learned from 1.0’s amazing Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse Pie.  Also I used strawberries instead of maraschino cherries because those are kind of yuck but strawberries are summer fruit central and tasted delicious!  I fed this cake to a crowd and they went nutso for it – I always enjoy seeing my bakes disappear with a quickness.  I’m sure you’ll have a similar result because this cake was such a pleasure to eat.

Cake:
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs – separated
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

IMG_3061
tres leches slice by twocarolines.com

For the tres leches mixture:
1/4 cup heavy cream
one 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
one 12 ounce can evaporated milk

For Icing:
1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar
1 (scant) teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
strawberries to decorate

  1.  For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9- by 13-inch cake pan.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl, set aside.  Separate the eggs. Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Pour the egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
  3. Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold the egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Spoon into the prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.
  4. Bake until the cake is done, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan, and then turn out (upside down) onto a rimmed platter.
  5. For the tres leches: Combine the heavy cream, evaporated milk and condensed milk in a small pitcher. Pierce the surface of the cake with a fork several times. Drizzle the milk mixture over the top and allow the cake to sit and absorb the milk mixture. Don’t worry about totally soaking the cake! That’s what you want.
  6. For the icing: Whip the cream with the sugar and cinnamon if using. Spread it evenly over the top and sides of the soaked cake and decorate with strawberries.  You can use as many or as few as you choose.  I was more minimal for pictures, then I gave the rest of the strawberries to my 3 year old and she plastered it how she saw fit, which tasted great!
    IMG_3068
    Millies decoration for tres leches cake by twocarolines
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Several hours is fine. The cooler the cake, the better!

Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman tres leches cake on foodnetwork.com.