Sweet Baked Life

my sweet journey through life…


Leave a comment

Vanilla Almond Biscotti

These pretty Vanilla Almond Biscotti are not-to-sweet and perfectly crunchy — ideal for dipping into your coffee, tea or milk!

Vanilla Almond Biscotti | Sweet Baked Life

I always wanted to make biscotti, but never did; until recently that is.

And gee, what took me so long? It could be that I am not really into baking cookies, OK, don’t hate! I do love cookies, but I guess I don’t have the patience for scooping, shaping, placing evenly on the cookie sheet, baking and repeating the process until all the dough is gone! I would just rather turn my cookie recipe into a wonderful pan of bar cookies!

I am though, always up for making something new. You see, I love watching The Great British Baking Show. My husband thinks I’m crazy and wonders, why to I sit with my eyes glued to this show? Well, it’s because they whip up some of the most interesting things; most I have never heard of before. To me, it’s fun to watch and see how the home cooks figure out how and what to bake. A challenging baking show for sure!

Vanilla Almond Biscotti | Sweet Baked Life

One one episode the bakers were challenged to make biscotti. Now this is something I have heard of and have always wanted to make. I stumbled across the episode, and yes, there were some strange concoctions. But I also watched the segment where the hosts showed exactly how to make biscotti.

As my eyes filled with delight, I knew biscotti was on my list try. The basic recipe looked so easy — my type of cookie for sure. However, do you ever get that feeling when you are watching cooking shows that even thought it looks easy, the magic of TV editing may play a big part of the outcome?

I do! But with this recipe I did not care. I wanted to make a cookie that was simple to make with simple ingredients, so visions of  Vanilla Almond Biscotti began to invade my head as I ventured to my local grocery store to pick up the few items I needed.

Vanilla Almond Biscotti | Sweet Baked Life

I decided to make these one Saturday morning to surprise my boys. And they could barely wait for them to cool before they started devouring them. Yep, must be good if the boys like them. Did I say like? I think I really meant LOVE.

I had to steal some away to save for the photos or this would just be a post with crumbs on the plate!

As I explained to the guys, biscotti means “twice baked”, meaning that you bake them once, cut, put back on the baking sheet and bake again. The outcome is a deliciously crisp, yet soft, cookie. And they are good to eat any time of the day; that is if they last long enough after they come out of the oven!

Vanilla Almond Biscotti | Sweet Baked Life

Vanilla Almond Biscotti

By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup almonds

Instructions

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until blended and set aside.

In a large bowl of a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment, add the eggs, butter and sugar and beat on high-speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. The add the vanilla and mix well. Remove bowl from the stand and gradually add the flour mixture and stir by hand until just combined. Then fold in the almonds.

Divide the dough in half and shape into two 3×10-inch logs on the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and firm, about 30-35 minutes. When the logs are cool enough to handle (about 10 minutes), use a serrated knife and cut into 3/4-inch pieces and place cut-side down onto two parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, turning the biscotti half way through, until dry and firm.  Let cool completely in the pan.

Vanilla Almond Biscotti | Sweet Baked Life

These Vanilla Almond Biscotti look as beautiful as they taste! Be warned, they are so good that you may want to double or triple the recipe just to make sure you get some to enjoy yourself!

Sheila

 

{recipe inspired and adapted from The Great British Baking Show & Real Simple}


2 Comments

Peppermint Chip Ice Cream {no-churn}

Welcome the winter with a scoop or two of this delightful Peppermint Chip Ice Cream!

Peppermint Chip Ice Cream (no churn) | Sweet Baked LIfe

Yep, I did say ice cream. You know, just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you can’t eat frozen dessert! As a matter of fact, I could eat this beautiful cool stuff any day, any time.

Oh, and did I say winter? Yes! I really can’t believe that today is the first day of winter. Where did this month go? It’s almost Christmas, and I’m not ready! Thankfully, I took a few days off before the holiday so I can get everything done that I have been putting off — wrapping, baking, cleaning and the like when it’s this time of year!

So, if you’re like me, short on time and in need of a simple, elegant dessert — this no-churn Peppermint Chip Ice Cream is a winner in my book!

Needless to say, I am a huge peppermint fan, and peppermint ice cream has been one of my all-time favorite desserts ever since I was a kid. We used to go to this amazing ice cream shop by our home. It was small, family owned and the ice cream was incredible. Mint chip was usually my pick, however for the most part it was green (except for Christmas when they featured pink peppermint ice cream with crushed peppermint candy). And, I would get my ice cream dipped in this delicious chocolate sauce that hardened instantly, kind of like my Homemade Milk Chocolate Magic Shell.

Peppermint Chip Ice Cream (no churn) | Sweet Baked LIfe

For me, because I have such fond memories of ice cream, there’s no better time to enjoy this Peppermint Chip Ice Cream than Christmastime! I love the combination of peppermint and chocolate — they really taste so good together — and the flavor reminds me of family and wonderful memories of sharing and eating! And, the pink color, well, if you know me, I would rather do pink than red or green anytime!

This time of year we come together with our families and share what we love.  So, whether you are having a big crowd or a small gathering this holiday season, this Peppermint Chip Ice Cream is the perfect dessert to share with your friends or family after your celebratory meal.

The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, and even better, there is no need for a fancy ice cream maker!

Peppermint Chip Ice Cream (no churn) | Sweet Baked LIfe

So give yourself a break from all that baking, cooking and preparation for your big feast, and whip up this cool and satisfying dessert that’s easy to make last-minute or in advance.

The refreshing peppermint, along with a few drops of red food coloring to give it the glorious pink color, dotted with rich semi-sweet mini chocolate chips will make you tingle and instantly happy!

Delightful, cool and oh so yummy! You won’t be able to resist the incredible flavor combination! But please don’t forget to share it with your loved ones! Gather around the roaring fire or beautifully lit Christmas tree with a big bowl of this frozen delight and you won’t even remember the freezing temperature outside!

Peppermint Chip Ice Cream (no churn) | Sweet Baked LIfe

Peppermint Chip Ice Cream {no-churn} Peppermint Chip Ice Cream (no churn) | Sweet Baked LIfe

By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:

1 (14.5 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (chilled)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2-4 drops red food coloring (to make the perfect shade of pink)
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

In a large bowl, add the chilled sweetened condensed milk and peppermint extract. Mix until well incorporated. Add the red food coloring, one drop at a time, stirring in between, until you get the perfect shade of pink, then set aside. Then in a large bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, add the heavy whipping cream and beat on high-speed until stiff peaks form.

Add the whipped cream to the sweetened condensed milk and gently fold in until fully incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and stir gently. Pour mixture into a loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm (about 6 hours or overnight). When ready to serve, remove from freezer and let sit for 2-3 minutes then scoop into bowls and enjoy!

Peppermint Chip Ice Cream (no churn) | Sweet Baked LIfe

Wishing you and your family a warm and wonderful Christmas topped off with this cool and refreshing Peppermint Chip Ice Cream!

Sheila


3 Comments

Pear Tart {with orange glaze}

Simplicity at it’s best…this Pear Tart with orange glaze will amaze your taste buds and warm your tummy!

Pear Tart with Lemon Scented Orange Marmalade Glaze | Sweet Baked Life

Ever since I got my rectangular tart pan, I have been thinking of new and interesting treats to bake with it.

However, I have really only made a few things in it, such as this Chocolate Malt Tart and this Chocolate Caramel Twix Tart (when I blogged this I did not have the tart pan yet, so I used a round tart pan, however I have baked this several times in my rectangular pan, but have not taken photos or done another post — may have to put that on my list!).

So, I thought it was time to get something new and memorable baked in my favorite pan and share with you! And since the fall is upon us and the weather is finally brisk with hints of rain in the air — something warming and wonderful was on my mind!

Pear Tart with Lemon Scented Orange Marmalade Glaze | Sweet Baked Life

My husband wanted something made with apples. My son requested a treat with chocolate. But for me, I wanted something different.

I wanted something that I had not really baked with before, I wanted to create a new adventure.

As I wandered through the fresh fruit section at my local grocer, big juicy pears jumped out at me! I knew that this would be the centerpiece to my tart. I had not baked with pears before so this would be the perfect introduction.

Along with the pears, I also snagged some fresh lemons and a jar of orange marmalade and was on my way to whip up my new treat!

Pear Tart with Lemon Scented Orange Marmalade Glaze | Sweet Baked Life

This recipe is really easy to prepare mostly because you to not have to make a crust that you have to roll out. And if you know me, I do not like traditional crust; I know strange for a baker! Instead, mixing a few simple ingredients you then press the crust into your tart pan. How easy is that!

The result is a fluffy and moist base engulfed with juicy pears, sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and glazed with tangy-sweet lemon scented orange marmalade. The flavor combination will amaze you — warmth from the cinnamon, sweetness from the pears, and tartness from the lemons.

You can serve it warm from the oven or room temperature. It’s great with a big cup of coffee in the morning, or with a cup of tea as an afternoon treat. You could probably even serve it for dessert, it’s that good!

Any way you slice it, you’ll want another piece of this mouth-watering Pear Tart!

Pear Tart with Lemon Scented Orange Marmalade Glaze | Sweet Baked Life

Rustic Pear Tart {with lemon-orange glaze}

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 1hr
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Pear Tart with Lemon Scented Orange Marmalade Glaze | Sweet Baked Life
By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients

Tart Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 pears; peeled, halved, and cored

Topping:
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Glaze:
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

 

Instructions

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 4-inch rectangular tart pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Into a medium bowl, add the flour and baking powder, stir then set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high-speed until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Decrease the speed to medium and add the egg and mix until well incorporated. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until smooth. Note, the dough will be very soft.

Scoop the dough into the pan and using your fingers, push down into the pan to form an even crust. Be sure to flour your fingers so the dough will not stick to them. Then place the pear halves, cut side down onto the dough and press gently. Lightly sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the top.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is a light golden brown,. Let cool on a rack.

Mix the orange marmalade, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl. Place in the microwave and heat on high for about 30-60 seconds. Stir until combined then brush over the top of the tart. Remove tart from pan, cut and serve with the remaining marmalade mixture.

Pear Tart with Lemon Scented Orange Marmalade Glaze | Sweet Baked Life

Pour your favorite warm drink, cut a slice of this Pear Tart and sit back and enjoy the beauty of the season and be thankful for the simple pleasures in life!

Sheila

 

{recipe adapted from Real Simple}


5 Comments

Coconut Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

This soft, fluffy Coconut Cake filled and frosted with whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting will make a true coconut believer out of you.

Coconut Cake with whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting | Sweet Baked Life

Truth be told, I am not a huge coconut fan. Gasp! However, I feel if you use the sweet stuff in moderation, it can really enhance your baked treats.

This Coconut Cake with Coconut Buttercream frosting is no exception! Turns out, coconut cake is my husband’s favorite type of cake and I do enjoy making things for him that he likes. That being said, he is very picky and even though he may like a certain type of treat, it may not always meet his high standards (oh well!). You see, it was my husband’s birthday a few weeks ago and I always do a little party for him. Small, but meaningful.

That morning, not only did I have to clean the house, decide on the menu, do the grocery shopping, take my son to the gym, get in a quick work out myself, but also had to prepare the meal and make dessert. After a full week at work, and helping my son with his many honors projects and the like, I am pretty tired by the time the weekend comes around.

Coconut Cake with whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting | Sweet Baked Life

But since this was my guys birthday day, I mustered up the energy to create a special event for him. I told him my plans and we decided on the menu: cheese, nut and fruit tray followed by a chopped salad, citrus marinated chicken and roasted red potatoes. And then I announced the all important dessert I had in mind, Coconut Cake. He thought it was a great idea, but stated that since I was already doing so much, why didn’t I just buy the cake at our local grocery store.

What? Me, buy a cake? Me the baker and blogger…why in the heck would I buy a cake? My hubs sometimes just does not get it. I LOVE TO BAKE! Especially when it’s for a special occasion. And doing this for him, I WANTED to bake him a cake and make it something wonderful that we would rave about!

OK, he was right, it would be a lot easier for me just to put that, who knows how old, overly sweet, too much lard-y frosted cake in my shopping cart. But, I really, really wanted to make this cake, even if it did take some time out of my day. And so, that is exactly what I did!

Coconut Cake with whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting | Sweet Baked Life

You see, I think I get this baking obsession from my mom. She always baked extraordinarily unique homemade cakes for birthdays and every other occasion you can think of when I was growing up. It was not until I got older, and for that matter when she got older, did she start buying cakes. But, she really only buys cakes from exquisite bakeries, not from a grocery store. I’m with her, however I would still rather bake my cake. I’m not saying that grocery store cakes are bad, some are actually OK, but they are not really my thing.

The secret for this cake is using canned unsweetened coconut milk in place of regular milk and adding this same coconut milk into the frosting. Also, to achieve the light and fluffy frosting, be sure that you beat the butter on high-speed for at least 5 minutes and then another 5 minutes after you add the remaining ingredients. It really makes a huge difference and the results are outstanding!

My very picky husband said this Coconut Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting was the BEST cake he ever tasted. He oogled over it as he devoured it! Not too sweet, not too coco-nutty! Just right!!!! He even mentioned the other night, when he was craving something sweet, that he wished we still had this cake as nothing around our area (that can be purchased) compares! Such a huge complement coming from him!

Coconut Cake with whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting | Sweet Baked Life

Coconut Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 2hr (includes baking and cooling)
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


Coconut Cake with whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting | Sweet Baked Life

By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 egg whites
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk*
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 pound (about 4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk*
¼ teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
Large sweetened flake coconut, for top garnish

Instructions

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together four, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In a large bowl of a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar and beat on medium-speed until combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg whites and beat until well incorporated. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture until fully incorporated. Then add the coconut milk and vanilla and mix until combined.

Divide batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until golden brown and when gently touched the top springs back. Be careful not to over bake.

Cool the cake in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then gently turn the cakes onto the rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting while the cake is cooling: In a large bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip the butter on high-speed for about 5 minutes – until light and fluffy. Occasionally scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Then, with the mixer on low-speed, add the confectioners sugar, vanilla extract, coconut milk and coconut extract (optional). Turn up the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

To assemble the cake: place one cake onto a cake plate or cake stand. Add 1/3 of the frosting to the top and spread to an even layer with an offset spatula. Put the second cake on the top. Add the next 1/3 of frosting to the top of the cake and spread evenly. Then using the remaining 1/3 of frosting, frost the sides of the cake with an offset spatula and here use a thin layer scraping with the spatula. Any reaming frosting can go on the top and smooth out to your liking. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the flake coconut. Slice and serve!

*For the coconut milk, use the type from a can, such as Thai Kitchen coconut milk

Coconut Cake with whipped Coconut Buttercream Frosting | Sweet Baked Life

This beautiful Coconut Cake with Coconut Buttercream Frosting is the perfect dessert to top off a special occasion or, because it’s so easy to make, it’s great anytime you are craving a delicious cake!

Sheila

 

{cake adapted from Martha Stewart frosting from here}