Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sugar Cookie Bars

I love food blogs. I love them so much that it's a small problem. I can spend hours reading tales from home cooks and this particular recipe showed up on several blogs. I took it as a sign that I had to make these over the weekend. They were also intriguing because I despise the labor of cutout cookies but a good sugar cookie cannot be beat. Be sure you have the right sized pan for these because I cheated and used a 9x13 pan and they were way too thick and had trouble baking all the way through. With the right pan, these will be a great go-to recipe. Recipe and picture are thanks to Annie's Eats - yet another food blog that I just began reading. I know...I need to stop!

Sugar Cookie 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 (I didn't use this since I never have this on hand)
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 (could use almond extract as well!)
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional but oh so fun!)
Sprinkles (optional but oh so very fun!)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 13 x 18" rimmed baking sheet (bars pictured used 12 x 17" pan). 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, salt, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the milk. Tint as desired with food coloring. Spread over the cookie in the pan, cut into bars and serve.

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