Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars

Yes, it's on an upside-down bowl.
I've never been one to just, "come up" with a new recipe out of thin air, I have to have inspiration and then reinvent or tweak it to my liking.  When I first caught wind of the idea of taking a sugar cookie and turning it into a bar I was all about that.  Turns out dozens of other cooks have has the very same idea, go figure.  I read about ten different recipes and finally decided on the recipe that I was going to tweak to make my own. Even if having a sugar cookie bars is not your idea of delicious, you will for sure want to try this buttercream frosting.  I haven't had a better buttercream--ever!

My son, Titus, helped me make these bars, up to the point of frosting, for our church community group meeting.  It's great fun to have your kids help you cook, and they get to learn all about fractions and following instructions...so much to learn from being in the kitchen and cooking.  He's quite the cook, I'm very proud of him.  The bars come together quick and bake even faster.  One lesson I've learned is not to wait for these bars to get dark on top.  These bars cooked in 10 minutes.  I didn't really get a stop watch and keep time, but I would say that from mixing to frosting it was maybe 45 minutes to an hour.

These bars are very versatile in that you could add your favorite extract, or citrus zest and create a whole new bar.  The frosting could be tinted to any shade you wanted.  I chose to go with the  plain white and used the really cool crystal sugar, which of course could be any color available.

The cookie is tender and moist with a very "sugar cookie" taste, only thicker.  How bad can that be?  The buttercream frosting is just to die for.  Creamy and sweet with that ever so slight salt that cuts through the sweetness of the frosting.  There were some parts of the bar where the frosting was as thick as the bar itself! Don't get me wrong, I love frosting as much as the next guy, but I should try to do a better job of spreading the love next time.

1 cup salted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda

For the frosting:
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional)

To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.   Spray a jelly roll pan with non-stick cooking spray (the size will vary) 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.  Add the extracts, mixing to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and beat on low speed just until incorporated.  It's easier to add all the dry ingredients to another bowl and stir them together, but if you don't feel like getting another bowl dirty then just add the salt, baking powder, and flour.

Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. I got a paper towel wet and kept my fingers moist, not wet, to keep the dough from sticking to my fingers. 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, sprinkle with the sugar and  cut into bars and serve.

Ice cold milk or hot coffee is a very necessary accessory. 

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