Friday, December 2, 2011

A Kitchen Interlude: Sugar Cookie Bars

As a new librarian working with teens, I have been reading constantly to keep up with booktalks, book reviews, and general reader's advisory.  I have also been baking on a nearly weekly basis.  As my blog title and username might indicate, I have both a big sweet tooth and a huge love of baking.  And since I fully believe in the power of baked good bribery, my job has given the ideal opportunity to bake a lot and then get the yummy results out my apartment as quickly as possible (thus saving me from myself).

I run our middle school book club that meets a few times a month and I, of course, provide homemade goodies at each meeting.  We had a meeting scheduled for this Tuesday and since I was traveling all day Sunday, I needed something I could make quickly and easily with minimal shopping Monday evening after work.  Cookie bars immediately sprung to mind and after surfing around on that most beautiful of time-wasters, Foodgawker, I discovered several similar versions of these basic sugar cookie bars.  And they turned out to be the perfect last minute treats!

Sugar Cookie Bars with Basic Buttercream Frosting
Cookie Bars
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
*based on recipes and directions from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine & lisa is cooking 

1.) preheat the oven to 315 degrees F and grease either a 13 x 18 jelly roll pan OR an approximately 10 x 15 cookie sheet with raised edges.  I used a cookie sheet with raised edges and it worked just fine.

2.) In one large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

3.) In a different large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Then add the eggs one at a time, beating the batter after each egg.

4.) Add the vanilla and mix in.

5.) Add the flour mixture into this batter.  I find that it works best to add the flour mixture in small increments (such as a 1/2 cup or so at a time), mixing after each addition.

6.) Spread dough on the pan, making it as even as possible.

7.) Bake for about 10-15 minutes until a toothpick (or knife or cake-taster) come out of the center clean.  If you're not sure, don't be afraid to pop it back in the oven for a few minutes longer; I was worried about the edges burning so I took the tray out a tad earlier and the upper part of the center pieces was a little doughy.

8.) Cool completely before frosting

Basic Buttercream Frosting
1 lb. confectionary sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3-4 tbsp. milk

1.) Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla together until well blended.

2.) Add 2 tbsp. of milk and mix.

3.) Add another tbsp. of milk and mix.

4.) Add a fourth tbsp. of milk only if needed texturally.

5.) Dye the frosting with food coloring if you wish!

These cookie bars were both simple to create and delicious to eat, making them an ideal party treat! 

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