Sweet Baked Life

my sweet journey through life…


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Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies

Send an arrow straight through your loved one’s heart with these enticing Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies!

Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies | Sweet Baked Life

With Valentines’ Day right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what wonderful homemade goodies to make your sweetheart, friends, co-workers or family.

And for me, these Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies are the perfect treat make for my boys. They love anything they can have and call “their own”, meaning if I make these cookies in mini cast-iron skillets, they each get their own pan full of soft, sweet, buttery cookies, dotted with rich chocolate M&M’s — all to themselves.

You see, around my home, we each have our favorites when it comes to treats and snacks. For some reason, we never can agree on one thing to buy and share. So when I go shopping, my list can get a bit overwhelming! My husband will ask for his favorite chocolate candy, ice cream, or salty potato chips and the like, and my son does the same thing. Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies | Sweet Baked Life

If I happen to get a special treat for myself, I have to hide it as it will be gobbled up in no time flat. My husband will say something like, “Don’t worry, if I eat all of your {fill in the blank here with my special treat}, I will just go to the store and buy you more”.

Well, that does not work for me. The point is, I like to eat my sweets a little at a time, and savor each and every bite. If I buy a bag of candy, it can literally last me the entire month. Whereas with my hubby and son, well that bag would be gone in one day!

But I can’t really blame them for their love sweets. These guys are my loves and no matter what, I adore spoiling them with my baking adventures as much as I can! This time of year is no exception — time to bring on as many pink, pretty and delicious sweet treats as possible! Or as many as my boys will eat!

Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies | Sweet Baked Life

This is why I like using mini cast-iron skillets to make desserts — we each have our very own skillet filled with goodness! No reason to fight over how many cookies we each get. The only fighting is when the boys have to decide who gets the extra skillet  — and for the most part, they end up sharing it!

My guys loved these Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies. The base is not too sweet – fluffy on the inside with a bit of crunch on the top and sides (just the way we like our cookies!) and the pretty pink milk chocolate M&M’s give the cookies an angelic feel and a blissful taste!

You will send your loved ones over-the-moon with these freshly baked skillet cookies — they will love you forever, and probably ask you for more!

Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies | Sweet Baked Life

VALENTINE MINI SKILLET COOKIES

  • Servings: 4-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup Valentine Milk Chocolate M&M’s

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 4 mini cast iron skillets with non-stick spray and set aside. If you skillets are well seasoned, you can skip this step.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.  In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla and mix until combined. With the mixer on low-speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Dough will be thick.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the M&M’s and stir with a spoon until incorporated. Evenly divide the dough between 4 small mini cast iron skillets and press down gently to make an even layer. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature in either the skillet or remove and cut each cookie into 4 pieces.

Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies | Sweet Baked Life

I hope your day is filled with love and a batch of these Valentine Mini Skillet Cookies!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xxoo

Sheila


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Pink and Chocolate Cake

Time to welcome the month of love with this pretty Pink and Chocolate Cake!

Pink & Chocolate Cake | Sweet Baked Life

Or for me, just another reason to make something drool worthy using the color pink!

But really, I don’t need a special day or month just for that! I try to incorporate my favorite color into my recipes as much as I can!

If you hadn’t noticed from this blog, there is pink everywhere, and some of my favorite posts include Birthday Cake Bark, Pink Lemonade Sheet Cake, Honey Vanilla Cupcakes, and Peppermint Bark Cookie Bars.

Don’t get me wrong, I do LOVE Valentine’s Day – heart decorations, lots of chocolate and of course, pink, pink and more pink!

Pink & Chocolate Cake | Sweet Baked Life

As you move past the pink, there’s the chocolate. Ah, let me tell you all about the chocolate cake — it’s out of this world fabulous! It’s moist, dense, and rich all rolled into one incredible, lip smacking cake. And the frosting is the best super fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth buttercream that you will ever experience!

Put the cake and the frosting together, and well, let’s just say you and your sweetie will be on cloud nine!

I loved it (well, duh!).

My boys loved it (amazing!).

My co-workers loved it (spoiled!).

And you will love it too!

Pink & Chocolate Cake | Sweet Baked Life

You see, I made a cake similar to this one about a month ago. For that version I added peppermint extract and chopped peppermint bark to the frosting. It was A M A Z I N G!

Unfortunately, I got very sick right after it was made (ok, not from the cake — I got that terrible flu!) and did not have the energy or desire to take photos of the beautiful cake. And by the time I was up to possibly dragging myself out of bed, well, the cake had seen better days!

So I decided to recreate my scrumptious cake for Valentine’s Day. However, when I was making it, I asked my boys if they wanted peppermint frosting or vanilla. And of course they said vanilla — go figure! I sided with them (I would have made the frosting peppermint!), as I wanted them to enjoy this special treat.

But if you love the flavor combination of peppermint and chocolate (like I do!), then by all means substitute peppermint extract (about 1/2 teaspoon) for the vanilla extract as indicated for the frosting recipe.

Pink & Chocolate Cake | Sweet Baked Life

PINK & CHOCOLATE CAKE

  • Servings: 15-18
  • Difficulty: easy
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By: Sheila | Sweet Baked Life Pink & Chocolate Cake | Sweet Baked Life

Ingredients:

Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
4 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup sour cream (or you can use milk)
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb. (about 4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons milk
3-4 drops red food coloring

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 11×7-inch baking ban with non-stick spray and set aside. This makes for a thick cake, if you prefer you can use a 13×9-inch pan and adjust the baking time.

For the cake, in a large mixing bowl whisk flour, granulated sugar and salt, and set aside.

Over low heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the cocoa powder until thoroughly combined. Add the boiling water and turn up the heat to medium and allow mixture to boil for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat and pour the hot mixture over the flour mixture and lightly stir.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, baking soda and vanilla. Then pour this mixture into chocolate flour mixture and stir until combined. Pour into prepared sheet cake pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted to the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

When the cake is cool, make the frosting. 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, milk and the red food coloring, adding a couple of drops until you get the color you prefer. Turn up the speed to medium-high and beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Frost the cake using an off set spatula, and smooth to create an even layer. Slice into squares and enjoy! Note, this is a rich cake, so a little piece goes a long way. Yield: 15-18 squares.

Pink & Chocolate Cake | Sweet Baked Life

Spread the love with your special someone by sharing a big slice of this incredible Pink & Chocolate Cake!

xxoo

Sheila

 

{Adapted from my Texas Sheet Cake and Coconut Buttercream Frosting}


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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}


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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}