Sweet Baked Life

my sweet journey through life…


Gooey Butter Bars

Get ready to sink your teeth into these amazingly soft Gooey Butter Bars that are layered with buttery goodness!

Gooey Butter Bars | Sweet Baked Life

Do you see these beautiful bars oozing with vanilla deliciousness? Well, be warned, if you make them they won’t be in your sight for very long! That’s because these Gooey Butter Bars are THAT good! Yep, you, your friends and family will devour them in no time!

These unique bars go by many names such as Chess Pie, Chess Bars, Gooey Butter Cake and Gooey Butter Bars. There are homemade versions, quick versions and even a St. Louis version. There are also many different flavors too including lemon, spice, toffee and chocolate.

This simple vanilla version stems from Paula Deen. So thanks Paula for a truly lip-smacking treat! You see, I love this lady and her recipes. I used to watch her on the Food Network (that is before I cut my cable!) and was continually mesmerized by her southern charm and of course her use of one of my favorite ingredients, butter!

And if you are weary of using butter, well, don’t be. Just remember, eat what you love in moderation!

These Gooey Butter Bars would be perfect to make for Mother’s Day, a bridal shower, or any springtime or summer occasion. Or for that matter, any time would be the best time to serve up these scrumptious squares!

Gooey Butter Bars |Sweet Baked Life

These melt-in-your-mouth bars combine a soft buttery vanilla base with a gooey and creamy buttery topping. The flavor and texture are hard to resist!

You start with a box cake mix and butter (ok, can’t go wrong here). Then you whip up some cream cheese, sugar, eggs, vanilla and more butter (yes, again, can’t go wrong with more butter). Then you bake it to a golden perfection.

And why is it called gooey? Well, I think it’s because of the topping. When you beat the ingredients together it becomes very gooey. And when it bakes, puffs up and then cracks. You take it out of the oven when the center is still loose, and after it sets up while cooling, the top and bottom come together as one incredible treat!

Gooey Butter Bars  | Sweet Baked Life

Gooey Butter Bars

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 sick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 box (16 oz.) confectioners sugar

Turn you oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13×9-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the cake mix, egg, vanilla and 1/2 cup melted butter. Stir until well combined. Note, this will be thick. Dump into prepared pan and press into the bottom with your hands.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the eggs and 1/2 cup melted butter, and continue beating until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until well combined. Note, this filling will be sticky and gooey. Pour over the cake layer and spread evenly with a spatula.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden, but still a bit loose when you shake the pan. Cool on a wire rack before slicing into large pieces.

Gooey Butter Bars | Sweet Baked LIfe

I ended up bringing these ooey Gooey Butter Bars to my office for my co-workers to enjoy since my picky family does not like anything baked with cream cheese (I know, what is up with that!?)! These bars got rave reviews, as evident by the immediately empty dish on my desk!



{recipe adapted from Paula Deen}


Skillet Cocoa Brownies

Sweet and satisfying, these Skillet Cocoa Brownies are good enough to please any hungry teen, especially mine!

Skillet Cocoa Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

You see, today at exactly 5:11 AM marked the 14th year of my son’s life here on earth. I can hardly believe it. And yes, I say this every year — that time really does go by so incredibly fast. I vividly remember the day he was born, when he first smiled, when he first started talking, when he took his first step, and the list goes on and on!

And one thing I will never forget, is simply just him; as a baby, toddler, kid, and now a teen. He is an incredible person, with whom I fell in love with the moment he was conceived. He has bright spirit, big heart and a kindness about him that makes me wonder where he got it from. He is honest, responsible and super smart. I love this kid with my entire being — he lives within my heart and I am proud that he calls me mom.

Skillet Cocoa Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

A few weeks ago he asked if he could drive my car! What! Where did that come from? Drive, well it just seems like yesterday when he was zooming around in his fire engine pedal car, he then progressed to his bike, then next he became king of the garden fearlessly driving our ride-on tractor/mower.

And now he wants the keys to my car? No. Stop growing up. Stop it. Can you hear me? And also, strop growing – in height that is, the kiddo is now taller than me and soon will be taller than dad. The doctor told us that he will probably be 6′-2″ — lucky guy!

Skillet Cocoa Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

So what do you make an ever-changing, ever-growing, always hungry 14-year old? Yep, a big old skillet of cocoa brownies. He loves the sweet stuff, child after my own heart, and I so enjoy making all kinds of treats for him on special occasions, or pretty much any day!

Two years ago for his birthday I made him these Marshmallow Toffee Brownies and then last year I made him this Teenage Crush S’mores Overload Cake. Both had a chocolate base filled with lots of gooey additions and definitely incredibly irresistible. But to celebrate this year, I opted for a more simple and basic brownie recipe, since that his what he likes best.

These Skillet Cocoa Brownies are dark, rich and oh, so good! They are dense, yet moist on the inside and they have a bit of crunch on the top, not sure if that’s because they are baked in a skillet — but no matter how you slice and eat them, they’re darn delicious!

Skillet Cocoa Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

Skillet Cocoa Brownies

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1-1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9-inch cast iron skillet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In the top of a double boiler (placed over simmering water) add the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir occasionally until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool until warm.

Stir in the vanilla then add the eggs one at a time, beating with a spoon to fully incorporate after each one. Add the flour and stir until completely combined. Pour into prepared skilled and spread evenly with a spatula.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center has moist crumbs attached. Let cool on a rack, sprinkle with confectioners sugar (if desired) and cut into large squares and eat!

Skillet Cocoa Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

Happy Birthday to my favorite boy in the whole wide world! Indulge, if you like, in this entire pan of Skillet Cocoa Brownies — I’ll even make a second batch if you so choose!

Love you, forever and a day! xxoo, Mom


{recipe adapted from Epicurious}


Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas {garbanzo beans}

These Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas are a perfectly healthy snack to pop in your mouth while you’re on the go!

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas - easy and healthy! | Sweet Baked Life

Not only are these Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas super simple to make, they’re also high in protein and fiber.

And if you are anything like me, I always seem to be looking for tasty, healthful snacks that I can bring to work with me, store in my desk drawer and pull out when I need something mid-day to nosh on.

You see, I don’t really like to frequent the vending machine at work. Even though it haunts me when I forget to bring something from home.  So, if you are in need of avoiding the tall, lit-up box that holds all kinds of snacks, and will eat up your dollars if you stare at it too long, then sway back over to your kitchen to make this quick snack that will satisfy your daily hunger pains!

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas - a quick and healthy snack! | Sweet Baked Life

And when you walk by that monster machine, you can stare back knowing that it will not tempt you, as your delightful Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas are waiting for you in your desk drawer!

These are so simple. You only need 3 ingredients; chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olive oil and salt. And, you may even have these ingredients in your pantry right now. So pull them out and let’s get going!

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas - get healthy on the go! | Sweet Baked Life

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas {Garbanzo beans}

1 (15 oz) can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Olive oil
Salt to taste

Heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Drain chickpeas in a strainer and rinse with cold water. Pour them onto paper-towel lined rimmed baking sheet. Place a paper towel on the top of the peas, and pat dry. Remove paper towels and skins. Drizzle peas with olive oil and mix together using your hands. Spread out the peas, making sure they are in one layer on the baking sheet.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the beans are golden brown and crispy. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt. Store in an air tight container.

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas - easy and delicious! | Sweet Baked Life

Put a stop to spending your money at the dreaded vending machine, and take a step towards the healthy side; make these yummy Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas today!




White Trash Bars

Don’t let the name fool you, these White Trash Bars are heavenly!

White Trash Bars | Sweet Baked Life

When I stumbled across this treat on Pinterest, I was intrigued — just the name alone caught my attention, and knew it was something I would have to try!

And why does this recipe have such a strange name? Well, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because the ingredients are ones you have in your pantry that normally would not go together, or maybe it’s because you don’t use the basic butter, eggs, flour and sugar for baking a bar-type recipe.

In any event, I quickly got out the ingredients and began to assemble this unusual concoction. I even decided to make these bars a bit more “trashy” by topping them with additional toffee bits and adding some chocolate chips. As well, I think I also ended up making them just a bit less “trashy” by using homemade buttercream frosting; as the original recipe called for canned frosting, something that I just don’t really like!

White Trash Bars | Sweet Baked Life

You start with Ritz crackers — yes, you heard me, crackers! Then you toss in some toffee bits and mix the concoction with sweetened condensed milk. Weird, I know. That bakes up in the oven, and then once cooled, you top ’em off with some buttercream frosting, sprinkled with chocolate chips and toffee bits.

And if you don’t have the time to make your own buttercream, which takes less than 3 minutes to prepare, go ahead and be as “trashy” as you want and pile on the canned stuff! I won’t judge!

White Trash Bars | Sweet Baked Life

And what do you think the outcome is? Ah, it’s a sweet yet salty, chewy base with a creamy top and a bit of crunch from the toffee bits on top. Yummy!

Did my family like these? Well, you know the picky bunch, they tried a piece and told me they were too sweet. Not sure if that is possible, but I thought they were uniquely good! And a fun bar to make when you are short on time and ingredients and need to whip up something fast as last-minute dessert.

White Trash Bars | Sweet Baked Life

White Trash Bars

2 sleeves Ritz crackers
1 -1/4 cups Heath Toffee Bits
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups vanilla buttercream frosting (homemade* or canned)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8×8-inch pan (I used an 8×10-inch pan) with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large zip lock baggie, add the crackers, seal and crush with a rolling-pin. Open baggie and add 1 cup of the toffee bits, close baggie and shake until combined. Dump mixture into the prepared pan. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the mixture and stir until combined. I found this easier done with my hands! Then press into the pan until evenly distributed.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top and edges turn a golden brown. Cool completely on a rack. When cooled, top with your favorite buttercream frosting, then sprinkle with the chocolate chips and the remaining 1/4 cup of toffee bits. Cut into 12 squares and serve.

*Easy Homemade Buttercream Frosting: Add 2 cups of confectioners sugar, 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, 2 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract to a large bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed 1-2 minutes until creamy. If too thick or too thin add either more milk or more sugar, a little at a time, until frosting reaches the consistency you like.

White Trash Bars | Sweet Baked Life

Get ready to trick your taste buds with these no-joke sweet and sticky White Trash Bars!



{recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups}


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 319 other followers