Monday, November 28, 2011

Sugar Cookie Bars

I was invited over to a friend’s house for dessert after Thanksgiving dinner.  Normally, people have pie for Thanksgiving-- sweet potato, apple, pumpkin, and/or pecan pie.  Other families have cake as well-- red velvet, spice, and/or chocolate cake.  I wanted to bring something different to the dessert table.

I decide on a Sugar Cookie Bar recipe that I have had lying around for a while, just waiting to be used.  I chose the cookie recipe because it was kid friendly (my friend had three little ones over for Thanksgiving), it was a sugar cookie (which my friend is a huge fan of, especially with princess or almond flavoring), and it surely would not be in competition with more traditional Thanksgiving desserts.

What truly made this cookie bar special was the frosting recipe.  The recipe circling the web used shortening and butter.  While, that recipe may have been traditional, I just could not see the benefit of using shortening on top of a flat cookie.  I did not feel the durability of a shortening based frosting was warranted here.

My friend is a lover of traditional buttercream, you know the kind with butter, powdered sugar, a little milk, and flavor extract.  This icing would be perfect for this type of cookie, but I did not want to go the sweet, sweet route.  I decided on a Swiss meringue buttercream, which is light, fluffy, silky, and decadent, but not too sweet.

But I still have not hit on the special part of the frosting… wait for it…. wait for it… Brown Sugar.  This is not typical Swiss meringue buttercream.  These sugar cookie bars are frosted with a Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The brown sugar in the frosting adds an almost caramel-y dimension of flavor.  It was delightful.

I got three glowing, sticky face endorsements from the little ones at my friend’s home and the adults liked it just the same.  My sugar cookie loving friend liked them as well, but would have preferred the traditional buttercream frosting…. But hey, I knew that going in.  If I planned better, I would have used fall leaves sprinkles on the top.  These are easily adaptable to whatever holiday you are celebrating by changing the sprinkles.  This is a quick and easy recipe, great for all the Holiday parties coming up.  I hope you will give it a try.

Sugar Cookie Bars
Adapted from Recipe Girl

Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 tsp princess flavor emulsion
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Frosting Ingredients:
4 egg whites
1 cup brown sugar
3 sticks (1 1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
Splash Vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment. Try for as close to 13x18in pan that you have.

2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, then add eggs in mixing one at a time, followed by princess flavor emulsion.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt & baking soda, then add to butter mixture and mix just until combined.

4. Spread dough on cookie sheet with the use of your hands (sprayed with nonstick spray). Also, to get a flat surface, you can cover the dough with parchment paper and press another pan of equal size on top of the dough (Remove the additional sheet of parchment when done);

5. Bake for 15-20 min, until light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs.

6. Cool completely before frosting.

7. Using the quantities of ingredients listed above, prepare Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Sorry, I am being so lazy right now and not reposting the method of making the frosting.

8. Frost, sprinkle, and the cut into bars. Remember this frosting does not crust and is super silky at room temperature. Once refrigerated, allow to return to room temperature before enjoying.

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