I've never been a huge Christmas cookie baker. And that's probably a good thing considering I'd pretty much sample every single one of my creations. It always happens. I bake something and I won't let the boys have much of it 'cause well, duh, it's loaded with sugar. And Mitch doesn't eat much either 'cause he's healthier than I am (dang skinny people), so I end up consuming all the baked stuff in our house. Not good when you're supposed to be watching wheat, sugar, etc. You know how it goes. Another reason why I never really got into Christmas cookie baking is that while I enjoy baking, I don't think I could make a day of it. Ya know what I mean? Some of you crazy kids set aside an entire day to bake! Sheesh...I'm happy if I squeeze in a shower in a 24 hr period let alone bake 17 different varieties of cookies. My hat goes off to ya, baking marathoners out there.
Anyway...yes, this post has a point...I did make some cookie bars yesterday. These were the perfect "cookie" for me. I love iced sugar cookies, but again, don't have the patience to roll out dough, cut shapes out, bake and icing them. I honestly can't get past the rolling out the dough part...can never keep the dang dough at the same thickness! So bars are perfect for me. Seriously it takes like 20 minutes to make and bake these puppies then just slap on some icing (after they're cooled) and you're done. BAM, just like that. It's kinda cheating, but I'm okay with that. Oh and you can jazz 'em up to look all pretty with some jimmies (i.e. sprinkles for all you non-PA/NJ residents out there). Also, it has "kid friendly" written all over it: mixing the dough, pressing it in the pan, icing and decorating...fun times.
Sugar Cookie Bars
Adapted from The Repressed Pastry Chef
1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a jelly roll pan (12" x 17") Cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy (about 1 minute). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & mix well.
In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Transfer dough into prepared pan and gently press into an even layer (I found that using a piece of parchment paper was helpful as the dough was pretty sticky). Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp milk (or more if needed)
food coloring (if desired)
Place butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium high until smooth (roughly 1 minute). Add vanilla and powdered sugar in 1 cup increments until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cookie, add sprinkles (if desired), then cut into squares.