Sweet Baked Life

my sweet journey through life…


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Salted Caramel Bars

These Salted Caramel Bars are my new favorite treat — and they can quickly become yours as well!

Salted Caramel Bars - so good! | Sweet Baked Life

I was ready for spring; the weather was warming, flowers began booming and the sun was shining brightly. When all of a sudden we are now strapped with storm after unending storm.

Instead of springing forward, I definitely feel like we have gone back to the fall!

Yes, we need the rain here in Northern California, but please. Give me my sunshine!

Salted Caramel Bars - so good! | Sweet Baked Life

So, if you are also experiencing the doldrums of a stormy season, such as gloomy skies, rain and wind — it’s time to treat yourself to a batch (or two, or three), of these amazing Salted Caramel Bars.

And when I say amazing, that is exactly what I mean. These squares will brighten your day immediately!

Let me see…butter, caramel, salt – ah, yes!

Salted Caramel Bars - so good! | Sweet Baked Life

You start with a buttery base, add some creamy caramel, then you top them with buttery crumble topping. Need I say more?

You absolutely cannot go wrong with these Salted Caramel Bars! The recipe is super easy, as you use the same dough for the crust and the topping. And the taste, well, let’s just say I could have eaten the entire pan! But, not to worry, I did share them with my family and friends at work!

These sweet and salty treats were a big hit! You really MUST try them!

Salted Caramel Bars - so good! | Sweet Baked Life

Salted Caramel Bars

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 1hr 15mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life Salted Caramel Bars - so good! | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:

For the crust and crumble topping:
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

For the salted caramel filling:
8 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped
(I used about 3/4 of an 11 oz. package of Kraft Caramel candies)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Instructions:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

For the crust: Into a large bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugars. Mix on medium speed until creamy. Then add the vanilla and mix until well combined. With your mixer turned to low-speed. Gradually add the flour and mix until soft dough forms.

Press 1/3 of the dough into your prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown. Chill the remaining dough in your refrigerator while the crust bakes.

For the salted caramel filling: Into a small microwave safe bowl, add the caramel candies and milk and microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir until completely smooth. If the caramels do not seem melted, continue to microwave on high heat for 15-second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted. Note, watch carefully as not to scorch. When the caramels are completely melted and the mixture is smooth, stir in the vanilla. Set aside until the crust is done baking.

Adding the Filling and Crumble Topping: When the crust is done, remove from oven and immediately pour the caramel filling over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt and crumble the remaining dough evenly on top. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the topping is light golden brown, about 30-35 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack. Cut into squares and enjoy. Remaining squares and be kept in the refrigerator for 1 week (if they last that long!).

Note: This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Salted Caramel Bars - so good! | Sweet Baked Life

Whip up a batch of these sinfully good, Salted Caramel Bars and turn your dreary days into sunny ones!

Don’t forget to spring ahead this coming weekend!

Sheila

 

{recipe adapted from American Heritage Cooking}


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Lunch Lady Brownies

Get ready to sink your teeth into these decadent Lunch Lady Brownies!

Lunch Lady Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

Strange name for a brownie, eh?

Well, ever since I began seeing these brownies popping up all over Pinterest, I wanted to give them a try.

I was intrigued by the name. I thought back to my school days, and was positive that I was never served these. As well, I thought back to a time when I visited my son for lunch in his elementary school cafeteria; they absolutely did not serve ANYTHING remotely resembling these! I don’t even think they had dessert! What a shame!

So, where, pray tell, are they serving these soft, moist and truly irresistible squares?

My initial thought was the naming of these Lunch Lady Brownies was just a made-up name, for what you wish you could have at the end of your lunch during school. Something to brighten your day.

Lunch Lady Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

After I finally clicked through several mouth-watering images, I found out that the original recipe for these chewy brownies has been around for over 50 years! Go figure — I had never heard of them before! It seems they were created by a real lunch lady from a small town in Idaho, who made them at a junior high school cafeteria.

Now let me tell you, if we had these Lunch Lady Brownies when I was going to school, I would be in absolute heaven. What lucky kids in Idaho!

In my book, let’s forget the lunch, just bring on these brownies!

So, if you were deprived, as I was, from indulging in these treats when you were a kid, you can create these fabulous brownies in your own kitchen.

Lunch Lady Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

Now you can become your own “Lunch Lady” and bake these special, tried and true brownies!

And let’s just forget about having these at the end of lunch, why not just make these Lunch Lady Brownies for lunch, or for that matter, breakfast or dinner!

Anyway you cut them, I can always go for a rich, chocolaty brownie.

And these frosted gems will not disappoint. You start with a thick chocolate brownie base and top them off with a soft, creamy chocolate frosting — ahh…pure delight!

Lunch Lady Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

Lunch Lady Brownies

  • Servings: 16 large squares
  • Time: 1hr. includes baking and cooling
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila|Sweet Baked Life Lunch Lady Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:

Brownies:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
Dash of kosher salt

Instructions
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and cocoa until combined. Then add the sugar and flour and mix well with a large spoon. Stir in the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

While the brownies are baking, make the frosting:  First, sift together the sugar, cocoa and salt into a medium bowl. To a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Slowly add the sugar mixture, alternating with milk, until creamy.

When the brownies are done, remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes on a rack. Then frost (yes the brownies will still be warm — that’s the way you want them!), cut into large squares and enjoy!

Lunch Lady Brownies | Sweet Baked Life

Whip up a batch of these fabulous Lunch Lady Brownies, and a line will immediately form in your kitchen for seconds and thirds! Guaranteed!

Sheila

 

{recipe adapted from Saltbox House and Life Made Sweeter}


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Valentine M&M Blondies

Spread the love with these pretty Valentine M&M Blondies!

Valentine M&M Blondies | Sweet Baked Life

If you didn’t know it already, I love the color pink. And anytime I can incorporate any variation of this sweet color into my baking, I do (as you may have noticed a bit of pink on this blog).

And to me, Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to go all out with pink!

I know some of you are all about red for this day for lovers, but for me, pink steals my heart every the time.

Valentine M&M Blondies | Sweet Baked Life

So today, I have taken one of my all-time favorite recipes, blondies, and added some pretty little M&M’s to make these especially scrumptious Valentine’s treats!

This recipe is super easy and super delish! You start with a rich buttery base and toss in the sweet pink chocolate candy bits, and voila, you’ve got Valentine M&M Blondies to share with your loved ones!

It’s true…from the first bite of these heavenly squares, love will strike and they will cherish you forever!

Valentine M&M Blondies | Sweet Baked Life

Valentine M&M Blondies

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Time: 2hr 30mins - baking & cooling
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life Valentine M&M Blondies | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups Valentine M&M Candies

Instructions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 11×7-inch pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt and stir until combined. Set aside until ready to use.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined (about 2 minutes). Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla.

On low-speed, slowly add the flour and mix until just combined. Remove from stand and fold in the M&M’s. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter in prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula. Put in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the top has turned golden brown and the blondies are set. Do not over bake.

Cool the blondies in the pan on a wire rack until cool. Cut into large squares. Yield 12 large squares.

Valentine M&M Blondies | Sweet Baked Life

Pretty, pink and perfectly delicious, these Valentine M&M Blondies will make cupid’s job a whole lot easier!

Have a sweet day!

Sheila


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Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars

Visions of peppermint and chocolate all wrapped up as pretty Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars!

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars - easy to make and the flavor combination is incredible. So pretty too! | Sweet Baked Life

Yes. Peppermint and chocolate is a favorite combination of mine — and add the color pink, well, I’m over the moon about these bars!

Not only are they amazingly easy on the eyes, the scent alone will make you swoon, and the flavor, well, let’s just say, I can’t stop eating them!

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars - easy to make and the flavor combination is incredible. So pretty too! | Sweet Baked Life

You see, I wanted to make something special to bring to our department holiday lunch, and these were at the top of my list. So pretty and amazingly scrumptious!

I have made these twice in a matter of a week, and both times they came out perfect. Gee, I just cannot seem to get enough of these pepper-minty bars!

I’m positive I will make these incredible bars again and again. The recipe is that good. I may even experiment by changing up the ingredients…the possibilities seem endless. For now, let’s focus on these beauties!

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars - easy to make and the flavor combination is incredible. So pretty too! | Sweet Baked Life

You start with a soft buttery shortbread base (seems to be a theme these days), then top it off with just the right amount of rich semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.

The topping of peppermint and chocolate melt while sitting on top of the hot cookie base. Then you swirl the chocolate and peppermint together to get this dream come true, beautiful cookie bar.

With each bite you’ll enjoy the soft cookie base covered in firm yet smooth peppermint chocolate bark — can’t go wrong with the mouth-watering flavor and texture combination.

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars - easy to make and the flavor combination is incredible. So pretty too! | Sweet Baked Life

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars

  • Servings: 20-24 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars - easy to make and the flavor combination is incredible. So pretty too! | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses
1/3 cup crushed candy canes

Instructions:
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 13×9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhand on both short sides of the pan. Then spray the parchment paper with the non-stick spray and set aside.

To a medium bowl, add the flour and salt and whisk until combined.

Add the butter to a large bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and beat until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. You may need to stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Then beat in the vanilla and egg yolk until incorporated. Turn your mixer to low-speed, then add slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. As a note, the dough will be thick and somewhat crumbly.

Dump the dough into your prepared pan. Spread into an even layer, and then press down on the dough to form an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Using a fork, pierce the dough.

Bake until cookies are a light golden brown and slightly puffed, about 30 minutes. Place pan on a rack and immediately sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the cookies. Let stand for about 3 minutes, or until chocolate is soft. Using a small offset spatula, spread the softened chocolate chips over the top of the cookies in a thin, even layer. Then sprinkle with the chopped candy cane kisses on the top of the chocolate and sprinkle lightly with the crushed candy canes. Using a large wide spatula, press down the kisses and candy canes pieces into the chocolate. After the candy cane kisses are soft, about 4 minutes, gently swirl the softened candy cane kisses with your offset spatula. Sprinkle more crushed candy canes if you like.

Let cookies cool completely before cutting. Lift the cookies out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang, and place on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut cookies into squares. This will make about 20 medium-sizes cookie bars, you can make them smaller if you prefer.

Store in an airtight container, layered with wax paper, in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars - easy to make and the flavor combination is incredible. So pretty too! | Sweet Baked Life

Pretty. Yummy. Pretty darn yummy!

A soft cookie base and a crisp bark topping joined together for a sweet holiday treat! Yum.

Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars - easy to make and the flavor combination is incredible. So pretty too! | Sweet Baked Life

I hope all of your Christmas dreams come true, especially if they include a big tray of these Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars!

Happy Christmas to all!

Sheila

 

{recipe inspired by Recipe Girl}