Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread

img_5330

brown sugar cinnamon pull-apart bread by twocarolines.com

I saw this beautiful pull apart bread a few months ago on King Arthur Flour who has an awesome blog with loads of great recipes and a really cute IG feed as well – I was certain to make it ASAP – as it turns out, it was truly weeks before I could get to that “P” in the ASAP.  The last 6 weeks have been non-stop for us!  I’m so glad I finally got down to my important baking business because this recipe was so much fun.  I doubled it and made a savory loaf and a sweet loaf, and there was even enough for a bonus loaf!  For the savory, I made an herbed butter compound by just chopping up fresh rosemary and adding some garlic salt, it was SO GOOD!! I will be making that again for sure.  For the sweet, I slathered a mixture of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon into my folded rounds and glazed it with my fave glaze from our famous Grandma Ruth’s Cinnamon Rolls – and there are easier icings out there, but there are NONE that compare with this one, it’s magically not too sweet and it hardens as it cools.  It was SUCH a treat, we loved it.  And there are so many ways you could make this bread – have fun with it!

Dough:

img_5326

pull-apart bread dough by twocarolines.com

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast
4 1/2 to 4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons potato flour (I didn’t have any, and they still worked out great, but I just bought some for next time)

Brown sugar butter filling:
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
(for an out of this world savory filling mix butter with a tablespoon or so chopped fresh rosemary and 1/2-1 teaspoon garlic salt)

Icing:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup evaporated milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

  1. Warm your milk and pour it over your butter to melt it. Add the sugar and salt and let it cool slightly, then add your eggs, yeast, potato flour, and all-purpose flour – you want your dough to pull off the sides of your bowl, but not too dry, just workable.  You may need to add a little as you knead.
  2. Once you’ve mixed and kneaded your dough, let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size – this took me about an hour.  A good way to quickly check to see if your dough is ready is to press it with your finger. If the indentation remains without springing back, it’s ready to go.img_5329
  3. Roll your dough 1/2” thick. Using an English muffin ring, large biscuit cutter, or wide-mouth Mason jar lid, cut circles out of the dough.  Roll out your leftovers and get as many circles as you can out of your dough.
  4. To make the filling, just mix all the ingredients together until incorporated. Spread half of each circle generously with your filling then fold it and place it into your greased loaf pan.  I pushed them to one side then the other alternating to get more circles in, but stack them in however you like.
  5. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the loaf for 22 to 24 minutes. It should be golden brown all over. After 5 minutes or so turn your loaves out of the pans to cool on a rack.
  6. For the icing cook the evap milk, sugar, salt and flour until it starts to thicken, then add the butter vanilla and powdered sugar. You can sift the powdered sugar as you add it to avoid lumps, but I tend to just strain my icing after it’s done which is easier and it comes out beautifully lump free.  Drizzle onto your slightly cooled loaves.
img_5335

pull-apart sweet bread by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour pull-apart breads blog post

S’mores Brownies

IMG_7676

S’mores Brownies by twocarolines.com

Summer and S’mores are MFEO – 💞and this dessert is such a perfect summertime treat, plus it’s easy and you don’t need a kitchen torch to get that campfire coal browned look and taste. If you want to make it super easy on yourself you could even use a brownie mix for your middle layer, but that seems silly to me when our recipe for Kristin’s homemade Brownies takes maybe 2 minutes more and is infinitely more delicious.  Either way, these are a guaranteed crowd pleaser for any summer soiree!

Graham Cracker crust:
18 full graham cracker sheets
1/3 c sugar
3/4 c melted butter

Brownie Layer:
1 cup butter (melted)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (NOT soda)
2 teaspoons vanilla
optional – 3/4 cup chocolate chips, chopped walnuts or other additions

Meringue Layer:
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

IMG_7674

S’mores brownie meringue by twocarolines.com

  1. To make the graham cracker crust, preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Butter a 9×13 inch pan and line with parchment paper.  Put graham crackers into a blender or food processor and mix until they are sandy crumbs then add sugar and butter mixing until combined.  Add mixture to the prepared pan and smooth with a dry measuring cup to create an even layer. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Clean mixer bowl for re-use and keep oven set to 350˚ to bake the brownie layer.
  2.  For the Brownie layer – mix sugars and butter until very well combined then add eggs one at a time until totally incorporated.  Next add salt then pile the cocoa, flour and baking powder all on top of your mixture and whisk until smooth.  Last add your vanilla and any additions (if using) until uniform, and spread on top of your graham cracker crust.
  3. Bake for anywhere from 25-30 minutes depending on how done you like your brownies.  If you enjoy a gooeyer texture opt for a shorter bake time, but go all the way if you like your brownies more done.
  4. To Make the Meringue Topping:  Set up a clean double boiler – I always use the metal bowl of my kitchenaid mixer on a pot of boiling water and it works perfect. When the water is simmering, add egg whites and sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes – you want them warm to the touch and smooth so you can tell the sugar is dissolved.   Put bowl back into your mixer, or if not using just transfer to a cool enough to touch bowl then, add the vanilla extract and cream of tartar. Whip (with the whisk attachment) on high for about 5-7 minutes, or until the mix starts to become stiff and glossy. You’ll know the mixture is ready when it will hold a stiff peak without deflating. Add topping to prepared brownies and smooth with the back of a wooden spoon, creating some peaks for decoration.
  5. To Brown Meringue:  If using a broiler, set oven rack about 8 inches below the flame and preheat for about 5 minutes. Add brownies and keep a close eye on them, adjusting the pan as needed so that they brown evenly.  If you are using a kitchen torch, which I to prefer because it looks so dramatically beautiful – torch topping by moving the flame in circular motions so not to stay in one spot for too long (it will burn) over the meringue until the surface is evenly browned – careful not to set your parchment on fire – but possibly do this next to the sink just in case!
IMG_7675

S’mores brownies by twocarolines.com

Recipe adapted from feed feed Ultimate Smores Brownie

Momma May’s Carrot Cake

IMG_1566

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
4 eggs
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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Chop walnuts and carefully press them into the top of your cake.  Keep at room temperature and enjoy!
IMG_1564

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Walnuts by twocarolines.com

Coconut chocolate chip cookies

I thought I had already posted these because: coconut and chocolate! I discovered that we have dozens of coconut desserts on the site, because we unapologetically insist on a blog heavily unbalanced, with some categories of bakes hardly covered and others…such as banana, peanut butter chocolate, and coconut given every possible recipe known to man because we LOVE THOSE THINGS! These cookies are the epitome of chewy, chocolatey, crisp on the edge, cookie dreaminess. You can go straight up semi sweet chocolate- but I think the milk chocolate mixed with the semi-sweet is one of the things that makes these so uniquely delicious!

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

Cream until fluffy.

Add:

2 eggs, beating in one at a time

2 tsp vanilla

Add:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

(I find at my high elevation and dry climate a tablespoon of water helps the texture)

Mix well and add:

2 2/3 cup coconut (yes, you read that correctly)

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Bake at 350 for 7-10 minutes. You want the bottoms starting to brown but still a bit shiny and doughy in the middle

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

image

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars by twocarolines

If you bake A LOT like me its necessary to practice moderation or you can quickly slide into a place where all your clothes just laugh at you.  I generally am pretty good at eating my baked delights a little at a time…except when it comes to things of the peanut butter chocolate variety- I have NO CONTROL!  This is one of those desserts I want fed to me intravenously- I want to eat it with non-stop wild abandon! My friend Marci made these for dessert one evening when I was pregnant and I’ve been thinking about them ever since.  If it weren’t for these my baby might have been a dainty 9 pounds instead of a chocolate peanut butter filled 10.  I finally got the recipe from her and they turned out everything I wanted them to be and more.  Enjoy!

 

For the bars:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats

For the frosting:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips (optional)
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 + cups confectioners sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan.  If you’re baking for a crowd double and put in a 9×13.
  2. In a stand mixer of with beaters mix the melted butter with the sugars until well combined.  Add the egg, vanilla and peanut butter (I use Jiff creamy but natural would work too) and mix until everything has come together.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a separate bowl and add to the butter/sugar mixture.  Once all of that is combined, add the oats and stir until they are well incorporated and there are no dry spots.
  4. Spread into your baking pan, the batter is thick so press it into the corners and even it out.
  5. Bake for 13-15 minutes until it’s just browned around the bottom and corners.  Let cool
  6. For the frosting, melt butter and milk chocolate chips if using, if you’re not using them just melt the butter.  (I really like a more milk chocolate frosting on these bars because it’s sweeter and the perfect compliment to the saltiness of the peanut butter).  Mix butter (choc. chips) with 2 cups of powdered sugar then add the milk.  Now add the cocoa (I sift it in to avoid lumps) and keep adding more and more powdered sugar until you have a pretty light brown frosting that’s not too stiff but starts to harden if you stop stirring it.  Refer to photo’s for look/feel of frosting.
  7. Spread frosting over the top of your bars as thick as you see fit.  You might have frosting left over, I had about 2/3 a cup left over.  Frosting will harden as it cools.  Keep in a airtight container to covered with plastic at room temperature, delicious for at least 5-6 days.

 

image

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars with Milk Chocolate Frosting by twocarolines

 

Whole Wheat Banana Bread..or Muffins

IMG_9105 whole wheat banana muffins by twocarolines[/

This time of year I like to walk the neighborhood with baked sweets in hand because it’s beautiful outside and people really like you when you bring them treats like this whole wheat banana bread. It’s also fantastic as muffins- both ways shown below. This is my own recipe, it’s so easy and good, plus it’s a great way to sneak some flax and fiber into your kids breakfast.  Not that it’s entirely virtuous, but breads and muffins that don’t taste good are a waste of everyones time.  If you don’t have ground flax or wheat germ you can substitute with bran, or just a little more whole wheat, this recipe is very forgiving and it’s begging to be messed with so have at if you want to add some fruit, top it with raw sugar, or add some chocolate chips, which I do quite regularly because: obvious.

1/3 cup coconut oil (you can use vegetable oil or butter as well)

2/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 medium sized banana’s mashed up

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon whole wheat flax

2 tablespoons wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

(if you’d like add 3/4 cup chocolate chips, nuts, blueberries, raisins, or whatever sounds good to you!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan -I also make a parchment sling, or a muffin tin or use cupcake liners and spray just a bit in the bottom of each.

Mix the oil, sugar, and eggs one at a time and vanilla.  In a separate bowl mix up the flours, flax, wheat germ, baking soda and salt.  Add dry ingredients and banana in 3 batches taking turns until it’s all incorporated.  If you’re adding any extra’s do that last.

For bread fill loaf pan 3/4 full and bake about 55 minutes depending on the size of your loaf- start checking if a toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs around 45 minutes. For muffins fill muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake for 17-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  You can freeze what you don’t eat the first day – I wrap them individually in plastic wrap and freeze for up to a month.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake

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

Ganache Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

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. For the cake.  Preheat oven to 350 and line two 9″ cake pans with parchment and either butter or spray them then set aside.
  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 be nervous about the texture.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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