Sweet Love's Kelli Marks on family, baking, and sugar cookies | Eat Arkansas

Sweet Love's Kelli Marks on family, baking, and sugar cookies

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  • COURTESY OF SWEET LOVE
  • Kelli Marks

When it comes to baked goods that look as good as they taste, Little Rock has Kelli Marks and her bakery Sweet Love to thank for providing some of the best around. We've talked about Kelli's cakes, cookies, and brownies before, but Kelli's a creative mind who describes herself as getting "super bored relatively easily" — a trait that led her to branch out into some successful experiments with ice cream sandwiches this summer.

Kelli is a self-taught baker who began learning how to cook under the wise eye of a grandmother who taught her the (vastly underrated) art of making good yeast rolls and some canning techniques that led to multiple Grand Champion ribbons for Kelli at the Grant County Fair. A creative drive to make things from crochet to carpentry found an outlet in baking years later when those same grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and requested a cake from Kelli, something that led her first to Barnes and Noble to read everything she could about baking, and then years of trial and error in which she refined her techniques and began baking for friends. Word spread about the good things coming from Kelli's kitchen, and soon she was applying her background in advertising and her MBA to start her own business selling sweets to a hungry public.

Kelli tells us that her philosophy behind Sweet Love is pretty simple: "Pretty things taste better," adding that her "optimistic goal is to offer delicious cakes that are beautiful." We'd say she's doing a pretty good job. Sweet Love is located at 8210 Cantrell Road, in the same shopping center as Taziki's.

As part of our "Chef Recipe Spotlight," we've asked each chef we profile to give us a recipe to share, so join us below the jump for a recipe that we're excited to share with all of you with the holidays approaching.

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Sweet Love Sugar Cookies
(courtesy of Kelli Marks)

*1 cup butter, softened
*1-1/3 cup sugar
*2 eggs
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*3-1/3 cups flour
*1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix until combined. Let dough chill before rolling out. Flour work surface and cookie cutters generously before rolling out dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Kelli adds that while this is her basic recipe, there are some variations that can be done to make things more exciting. Roll the cookies in sprinkles to make a fun cookie, or fold in the zest and juice of your favorite fruit. She adds that she's added everything from "jasmine tea, matcha powder (green tea), cocoa powder, and instant coffee." And, of course, the vanilla extract can be substituted for another extract such as almond or rose water.

Taking a simple recipe and see where small changes take it is one reason for Sweet Love's success. Let us know if you tried this recipe (and any variations) in the comments — we always love to hear what creative touches our readers come up with.

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