Sweet Baked Life

my sweet journey through life…


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S’mores Cookie Bars

Get ready to slice into a piece of nostalgia with these S’mores Cookie Bars!

S'mores Cookie Bars | sweetbakedlife.com

Sun. Sunny. Summer. Summertime.

Memories of days gone by.

Camping we did not do. Don’t like bugs. Don’t like dirt.

We “roughed it” every August in a two-room cabin sitting among the majestic redwoods in a secluded forest.

Across the road was the lake. Pack a picnic lunch. On the beach all day. Swimming. Making friends. Digging in the sand. Our bodies tanned with each day and glistened in the heat of the day.

S'mores Cookie Bars | sweetbakedlife.com

As the sun set each night, the barbecue was lit. The flames kept us warm as the cool breeze gently surrounded us.

Every last morsel of food was devoured giving us the needed nourishment from being outside in the heat each day.

With the warmth of the grill, we toasted marshmallows until they were almost burnt on the outside and gooey and warm on the inside.

Quickly put between Hershey chocolate filled graham crackers. Smoosh!

From the first bite to the last, we delighted in the crunch, melted chocolate and warmed marshmallows.

The sweetness I will always remember. The good times I will never forget.

S'mores Cookie Bars | sweetbakedlife.com

The nights were the darkest of dark.

The only thing you saw were the starts twinkling and the moon glowing.

Listening to the redwoods rustling in the breeze while owls hooted and crickets chirped.

We giggled until we fell asleep.

When morning fell upon us, we got up and repeated the fun!

S'mores Cookie Bars | sweetbakedlife.com

SMORES COOKIE BARS

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life S'mores Cookie Bars | sweetbakedlife.com

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups coarsely crushed graham crackers
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
2 (1.55 oz ea.) Hershey bars, roughly chopped
2 cups mini marshmallows, frozen

Instructions:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8×8-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, and set aside.

Add the flour, graham crumbs, baking soda and salt to a medium bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugars and cream together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – about 2-3 minutes. Turn down the mixer to medium-speed and the eggs,  milk and vanilla. Mix until well combined.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and mix until well combined. Add the chocolate chips and chopped chocolate bars and stir with a spoon until combined. Then add the mini marshmallows and stir.

Press mixture into your prepared pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the bars are browned and do not giggle. Cool completely on a wire rack, then cut into squares.

S'mores Cookie Bars | sweetbakedlife.com

Dig into these S’mores Cookie Bars and make the fond memories of summer last all year long!

Sheila

 

{recipe inspired from Carlsbad Cravings}

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White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars

Celebrate the season with these memorable, mouth-watering White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars.

White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars | Sweet Baked Life

I can eat things flavored with malt just about any time of the year. However, with springtime upon us, it’s only natural that this flavor jumps out at me! When I was a little girl, I loved sweets (some things don’t change!), and Easter was one of the best holidays as it was filled with a plethora of family fun; egg hunts, basket finding, cute stuffed bunnies, good food and most of all, lots and lots of candy — including my favorite, chocolate covered malt balls!

Now, that spring is upon us, Whoppers are abundant at the stores, flowers are blooming, people are smiling, the sun is shining (or at least trying to) and pretty pastel colors are everywhere you look!

To honor my fond memories of springtime celebrations, I just had to make something with the distinct flavor of malt. I also wanted these bars to look pretty to represent the season. Truth be told, I was going to add a few drops of red food coloring to the white chocolate to make it a soft pink, but in the end, I decided to leave it white and pure.

White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars | Sweet Baked Life

Also, with my son now a teen, we are a bit more sophisticated in our celebration of the season and Easter. However, the spirit of the big white rabbit visiting our home each spring lives forever in our hearts!

You see, when my son was young, we celebrated just like when I was a child — big candy filled baskets for all of us, an Easter egg hunt, a delicious feast and a festive dessert. The best part of me was seeing the delight in his eyes as he discovered the goodie filled basket by his bed, then he helped us look for ours! My husband would get up extra early and hide the candy-filled plastic pastel eggs throughout the yard, and my son would wander around with his basket searching for the eggs until he found all of them! It was a wonderful day filled with lost of fun and love.

To keep the tradition, I still prepare an Easter basket for my son. Yes, he has outgrown the “bunny” thing, but he still enjoys celebrating the season and getting some special gifts from mom and dad. This year, it will probably be filled iTunes and Microsoft gift cards, clothes and maybe a special box of chocolates from the See’s Candy Store along with a big chocolate bunny!

White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars | Sweet Baked Life

I also love whipping up an inspired dessert using some of our favorite candy or flavors. These White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars really are impressive, and who doesn’t like to celebrate with sweets?

This recipe is simple to make — it starts with a malted sugar cookie base, followed by a sweet white chocolate layer, and topped with crushed Whopper candies! The combination of soft, sweet and crunchy is amazing!

To make the preparation even easier, I used a store-bought cookie mix and just added a bit of malt and vanilla to bring out the springtime flavor that’s hard to pass up!

It does have an extra step of cooling the cookies before you add the melted chocolate and additional chopped Whoppers, but its worth the wait on these malted gems! Once they are ready to eat, your family and friends will thank you for making these decadent bars and you can reminisce about your childhood favorites!

White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars | Sweet Baked Life

White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:
– 1 package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie mix
– 1/2 cup Carnation Malted Milk powder
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 2 tablespoons milk
– 1 (5 oz.) carton Whoppers Malted Milk Balls, crushed & divided
– 4 oz Lindt White Chocolate bar, melted

Instructions

1.Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8×8-inch baking pan by lining with parchment paper then spraying with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

2. In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the cookie mix, malted milk powder, egg, butter, vanilla and milk. Beat on medium speed until the dough comes together (it will be thick).

3. Add half of the crushed Whoppers and mix with a spoon until incorporated. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan and press down to create an even layer. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cookie mixture is golden brown. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

4. After the cookie base is cool, top the mixture with the melted white chocolate — spreading evenly with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Whoppers. Place in the refrigerator to chill.

5. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, lift cookies out of pan by sides of parchment paper, and cut into squares.

White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars | Sweet Baked Life

Dig in and celebrate spring and Easter with a batch of these delightful White Chocolate Malted Sugar Cookie Bars!

Sheila


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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
  • 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
  • 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}