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Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #53 and Super Crumb Yellow Cake

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“What’s a super crumb?” you might ask. Is it like a super-conductor or a super-computer? Or is it one of those little specks of dust you spend fifteen minutes chasing around and still can’t get into the dustpan? (“Can’t catch me!” it shrieks as it scoots under the couch or hides behind the bookcase.)

No, these super crumbs are not of the evasive dust type or a possible means to solve the world’s energy dilemma. I could be coy and respond, “Bake the recipe and find out for yourself.” But then those folks in Human Resources might get the idea that they could phase out my job of writing intros to these recipes, so let’s not go there.

This Super Crumb Yellow Cake is “super” not only for its “crumbs”, which are extra buttery and have the delicate tang of cinnamon and there are lots of them, but also for the cake, which is richer and yellower than the typical crumb cake base. These two qualities make this entire crumb cake “super” in that it is more colorful, flavorful, and substantial than a normal crumb cake, and therefore appropriate for a wide range of occasions–as a lunch or dinner dessert, or on a brunch or party buffet (or as a yummy evening or late night snack).

So you see, the prefix/adjective “super” modifies all three of the words that follow. It’s a Super-crumb Super-yellow Super-cake Super Crumb Yellow Cake (I had to say that to justify my expensive degree in English and keep those headhunters in R&R‘s HR department sufficiently confused that they won’t put my job on the chopping block.)

Speaking of degrees in English, this week’s serial from Two Sisters Times Two is the final serial for this novel. Next week we will start the journey through a new novel. Be sure to stop back and check it out–and finish up Two Sisters Times Two in the meantime, while eating a piece of Super-super-super Crumb Yellow Cake!

yellow crumb coffee cake

Super Crumb Yellow Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour, divided

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

2 Tablespoons milk or cream

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 5×7 square baking dish, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup of flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and whisk ingredients together until combined. The batter will be thick. Do not over mix the batter.

Pour this batter into the prepared baking dish. To another bowl, whisk together the remaining 2/3 cup of flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter until crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

Bake cake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool before cutting.

Makes 4-6 squares.

crumb cake

{Adapted from Baked Bree}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #53, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #53, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #52 and Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding

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O. K. So maybe some of you have jumped the gun and are already in spring mode–T-shirts and shorts and flip-flops and suntan lotion. And maybe your weather (at the moment) is encouraging this anticipation.

But I’ve got a little warning for all you early birds–it ain’t spring yet. The vernal equinox is still more than a week away; and even once it occurs, there’s likely to be some cold and blustery weather ahead.

So with that distinct possibility in mind, we’re posting our last wintertime, warm you to the bones and the tips of your toes recipe: Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding. As the name suggests, this recipe combines the warmth and sweetness of hot chocolate with the comfort-food richness of bread pudding. There may be no better afternoon warm-up or late-night around-the-fire indulgence than this dessert in a mug as you sit cozy and warm with the cold north wind howling outside and snowflakes dancing beyond the windows.

So, sure–pull out the picnic blanket and the beachwear for a trial run. It’s fun to look ahead and dream. But bookmark this recipe and keep the ingredients handy. Winter has a growl or two left in store.

hot chocolate bread pudding

Hot Chocolate Bread Pudding

1 packet hot chocolate mix

1 cup milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 egg

2 1/2 cups cubed stale bread

2-3 Tablespoons chocolate chips

1/3 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 large (12-ounce capacity) oven proof mugs, and set aside.*

In a large bowl, whisk together the hot chocolate mix, milk, vanilla, salt, and egg. Make sure ingredients are blended. Add stale bread cubes and chocolate chips to the mixture, making sure to coat all of the bread. Allow this mixture to sit for 15 minutes.

Divide the bread pudding between the two prepared mugs. Place mugs on a cookie sheet. Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bread pudding is set. Remove the bread pudding from the oven. Divide the mini marshmallows and place on top of the bread pudding. Return bread pudding to oven and turn oven to broil just until marshmallows turn a golden brown. Be careful not to burn the marshmallows!

Remove the bread pudding from the oven and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve warm. Cover and store leftovers in refrigerator.

*If you do not have mugs of this size, bake bread pudding in a greased 5×7 inch pan. Increase cooking time to 35-40 minutes, or until the bread pudding is just set.

hot chocolate mug bread pudding

{Adapted from The Cookie Rookie}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #52, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #52, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #51 and Chocolate Turtle Cookies

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I’ve always loved turtles–that is, the four-legged kind with the built-in shelter like a mobile home. I especially like the small turtles you occasionally see in your backyard or garden, the painted and box turtles that once were so common but less so now, the ones that would hide in their shells till the dog stopped barking and moved on to something more interesting (and mobile), freeing the turtle to quietly (and slowly) plod off into the weeds.

Where have those turtles gone?

Well, in honor of those garden turtles and in recognition of (and hope for) the approach of warm spring days and the accompanying greenery of grass and leaves, we’ve named this week’s recipe Chocolate Turtle Cookies. They look like little dark-shelled turtles with their legs and head withdrawn into the shell. But don’t worry. There’s no turtle inside, just peanut butter and a vanilla wafer: good stuff.

These cookies actually mimic a certain type of popular girl-scout cookie with a trademarked name we won’t use here. But I think Chocolate Turtle Cookie is a better name than that other anyway. You see, I always liked turtles and miss seeing them in my yard. This recipe is for them, and in hopes of their return–this spring and all springs.

copy cat tagalongs

Chocolate Turtle Cookies

9 vanilla wafers

3 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter

4 ounces milk chocolate chips*

1-2 Tablespoons milk

Lay vanilla wafers on a plate lined with parchment paper. Top each with a teaspoon of peanut butter. Place the cookies in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Put the chocolate and 1 tablespoon of milk in a small sauce pan and melt over low heat, stirring constantly. If the melted chocolate seems too thick, add 1 more tablespoon of milk. Once the chocolate is completely melted, turn the heat off. Place one cookie on top of a fork. Spoon melted chocolate on top to completely cover the peanut butter and cookie. Gently shake excess chocolate off. Place chocolate covered wafer back on a plate lined with parchment paper. Repeat with remaining vanilla wafers.

Place cookies back in the freezer. Allow the chocolate to set on all of the cookies. Place hardened cookies in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Makes 9 cookies.

*If you can find milk chocolate candy coating, that will result in a shinier, harder outer coating. My local store did not have this product, so I used milk chocolate chips, as indicated in the recipe. If you can find candy coating, use 4 ounces and follow instructions on package for melting and dipping.

homemade tagalongs

{Adapted from Back For Seconds}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #51, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #51, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #50 and Jammy Cookies

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There’s something wholesome about a cookie with fruit in it.

Maybe that’s because we don’t expect a cookie to have anything healthy in it. It’s a cookie, right? It’s supposed to be an indulgence, a free pass on the diet board of life, like a candy bar or piece of cake.

So what place does fruit have in a cookie?

Well, let’s take a more holistic view of the situation. Pie has fruit in it, right? So do cobblers, trifles, even some cakes. Fruit is good in desserts of all sorts, adding not only flavor but nutrients and texture as well.

So why not in a cookie?

Why not, indeed! These Jammy Cookies give you a chance to experiment with adding fruit flavors and textures to your cookies. You start by rolling out a shortbread-like dough then add fruit jam to the middle, fold, flip and bake. Try different kinds of jam until you get the one that suits your taste the best.

It’s an experiment–fruit in a cookie: what a novel idea!

homemade berry newton

Jammy Cookies

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons honey

1 egg white

2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup jam of your choice

homemade fig newtons

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and granulated sugar. Add the vanilla, honey, and egg white, and beat ingredients until well incorporated. Slowly mix in the flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda until ingredients come together and form a dough. The dough will be wet.

Lightly dust the surface of your counter. Knead the dough a few times until it comes into a ball. Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 3 inches wide and 10 inches long. Spread your jam in the middle of the dough, making sure to leave about an inch border on each side. Fold each side of dough over the jam. Press dough together at the fold.

Gently lift the cookie (I had to use a spatula) and place fold side down on parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until dough just begins to turn golden brown. Remove the cookie from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut into 10 equal pieces. Place the cookies on a plate and refrigerate until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Makes 10 cookies.

homemade fig newton

{Adapted from Skinny Girl Standard}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #50, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #50, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #49 and Monkey Muffins

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Ahh–I’ve been to the mountaintop. Valentine’s Day. President’s Day long weekend. 150th post. Hazelnut and chocolate. Makes me kind of dewy-eyed just thinking about last week.

But you can’t stay on the mountaintop forever. Sometimes you have to come down into the valley where the rest of the weekends live. So I’m coming back down to earth to . . .

Monkey Muffins!!!!! 

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Remember when you were a kid and your mom gave you a tube of store-bought biscuit dough and some brown sugar and butter and let you chop it all up and throw it into a bread pan and make monkey bread? (Yeah. Happened last week during the snow, didn’t it?)

Well,this is a grown-up version of that tried and true childhood recipe. First of all, you don’t use store-bought dough but make these biscuits from scratch (just like the little old lady on the fast-food joint’s TV ad). And then you make a brown sugar syrup to work its way into all the nooks and crannies of the biscuit dough. Then you top it all off with a sugar glaze–to give these Monkey Muffins a grown-up sweetness.

And there you have it. Life down in the valley ain’t so bad after all. Might have to stay here awhile.

monkey muffins

Monkey Muffins

For biscuits:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup milk

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For brown sugar syrup:

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For glaze:

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 teaspoons milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6 standard size muffin cups, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk and 3 tablespoons melted butter until ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix! The dough will be very wet.

Put 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a bowl. Using a spoon, scoop 1 teaspoon ball of biscuit dough at a time, and roll each in the granulated sugar. Place 4-5 balls in each greased muffin cup.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons melted butter, and cinnamon together. Divide mixture between 6 muffin cups, pouring on top of dough balls.

Bake the muffins in your preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to continue cooling.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 teaspoon of milk. If you want the glaze to be thinner, mix in one more teaspoon of milk. Serve muffins warm with the glaze drizzled over top. Store any leftover muffins in an airtight container.

Makes 6 muffins.

monkey bread muffins

{Adapted from Cooking Classy}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #49, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #49, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #48 and Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

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It’s a week for pairings.

I doubt I have to remind you of the special day coming up on Sunday, and its emphasis on pairings.

And on Monday we’ll celebrate President’s Day, a holiday situated to fall between the birth dates of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, another pairing (and a long weekend off for most of us).

And this week at R&R we’re going to give you two special pairings of our own.

First of all, there may be no better pairing of flavors than chocolate and hazelnuts (that candy that pairs chocolate and peanut butter can take a backseat). And we’ve taken this perfect match into orbit with this week’s Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. And I don’t think we have to add that it would be a perfect highlight to that special day coming up on Sunday, maybe starting out with dinner at a nice restaurant and ending up with this cake for dessert back home.

And to go along with that coming holiday and this delicious and decadent dessert, we’re going to add a celebration of our own:

This is our 150th post!!!!! 

Valentine’s Day. A long weekend coming up. This yummy cake. And our 15oth post.

Doesn’t get much better than that.

flourless choc cake

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

For the cake:

3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons hazelnut liqueur*

 For the glaze:

2 ounces semisweet chocolate (about 1/3 cup)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed

2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur*

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 5×7 inch pan, and set aside.

To make the cake, add the chocolate and butter to a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until completely melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the granulated sugar until incorporated. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until mixed into the batter. Lastly, whisk in the vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, and hazelnut liqueur. Scrape sides of saucepan, and ensure all ingredients are well blended and no lumps of cocoa powder remain.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until set and toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Be careful not to over bake the cake. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving plate, and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by adding the chocolate and butter to a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until completely melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the hazelnut liqueur. Spread the glaze over cooled cake.

Makes 1 small cake.

*Feel free to substitute your favorite liqueur! Amaretto, Grand Marnier, or Godiva would all work well.

flourless chocolate hazelnut cake

{Adapted from Pastry Affair}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #48, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #48, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #47 and Snickerdoodle Truffles

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Ever wish you could capture all the delicious flavors of one of your favorite desserts in a single intense bite? How about all the nuances of banana pudding in one pop-in-your-mouth bite? That would be nice but near impossible with all the textures and subtle flavors of banana pudding. The same could be said for such traditional favorites as key lime pie or tiramisu or red velvet cake or lots of other possibilities you might think of.

But what about capturing the flavors of a snickerdoodle cookie in one bite? Seems possible, doesn’t it?

Well, we’re here to tell you that not only is it possible, we’ve done it with these Snickerdoodle Truffles. No baking required. Just mix, chill, roll into bite-size truffles, and eat. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

And you’ll have all the flavor of a snickerdoodle cookie in one yummy bite. Not quite the same as Caribbean vacation in a glass or a spa day in a jar; but we’re just a sweets and stories site, not miracle workers. Just pop one of these Snickerdoodle Truffles in your mouth and close your eyes and dream about that Caribbean vacation. That’ll have to do for now.

snickerdoodle truffles

Snickerdoodle Truffles

2 cups vanilla wafers (roughly 40 cookies)

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

pinch of salt

2-4 Tablespoons milk or cream

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

Add the vanilla wafer cookies to a food processor. Pulse the cookies until they become fine crumbs. Add the white chocolate chips, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk to the food processor. Blend the ingredients until the mixture comes together. If the mixture still seems too dry, add another tablespoon or two of milk. Scrape sides of food processor and blend ingredients together until completely smooth. This will take about 4-5 minutes. It will be the consistency of natural peanut butter when it is done. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in your freezer for 20 minutes, or until firm.

Once the mixture is firm, roll the dough into 1-inch balls. The dough will be sticky. You should get about 12 truffles. Combine the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll each truffle in the cinnamon sugar. Place truffles in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Serve the truffles chilled.

Makes 12 truffles.

snickerdoodle truffle candies

{Adapted from The Smart Cookie Cook}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #47, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #47, text © Jeffrey Anderson