Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sugar Cookie Bars

Every once in a while, I find a recipe that I just have to make IMMEDIATELY. This is one of those recipes. I found this recipe and knew that I had to try seemed too good to be true! Sugar cookies that are fast and easy but still taste delicious? Yep...these are that good. The cookie base is wonderful and I will definitely use them for cut-outs soon.

My only hesitation is the frosting. While it's smooth, buttery, and delicious, it's also very soft...not too great for transporting. So, I would recommend using this recipe for when you have to make treats that can either be served out of the pan, or arranged nicely at home - transporting these without messing up the frosting would be too tricky!

**Note: After writing this post, I went ahead and tried storing some bars in the fridge. After chilling, the butter in the cookies does harden up. If you needed or wanted to transfer these, you could cut them into squares, refrigerate or freeze them and stack them in a container to bring to your party. But, make sure you unpack them while they are still cold, otherwise you will still end up with soft frosting that sticks!

Sugar Cookie Bars
makes about 4 dozen bars

For the cookie bars:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (you can substitute an additional 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, but I recommend the vanilla bean if you can!)
Zest from 1 lemon
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda

For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. lemon extract (here you can substitute any flavor you like - almond would be really nice too)
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles (optional)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet (mine was 12 x 17″). Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla, seeds from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir together with a fork to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla and lemon extracts, salt, and confectioner's sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the milk. Tint as desired with food coloring. Spread over the cookie in the pan, decorate with sprinkles, cut into bars, and serve.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

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