I love recipes that can be used in multiple ways, don’t you!? This is one of those recipes. I feel like I’m making these bars for some occasion or another on a regular basis, but I don’t mind because they are so darn simple!
You can use this recipe to make a massive pan of sugar cookie bars, with a light and fluffy buttercream frosting (to-die-for) or be creative and make your own 86 sugar cookie bites, put a little lemon zest and juice in place of some milk in the frosting, make a chocolate buttercream, be creative, make it your own! Anyway you make them they are a dense, chewy, buttery sugar cooky!
Last weekend I brought these to a church retreat; they are super simple, portable, and serve a ton of people. I had a lot of requests for the recipe, which is part of the reason why I am featuring them this week. Whether for a church event, team feed, pot-luck, school party or maybe even for a wedding! I made 180 sugar cookie bites a few months back along with 180 Espresso Brownie Bites (recipe coming soon). That was fun, hard but fun!
At the retreat, we shared a condo with 3 other couples, who just so happen to be a part of our small group (missed you Dana & Doug!). Meals are assigned by condo, so we all pitched in to make these mini meatballs for Italian Wedding Soup along with Cobb Salad, Green Chicken Chili, Chinese Chicken Salad, and several other items! Patty, the beautiful blonde in the middle is the one who gave me the Italian Wedding soup recipe! Julie, the sweet hearted beauty on the far right, gave me the wonderful Easy Yeast Rolls recipe. And Janice, the darling rock star on the far left, saved our family a few weeks ago when we had all been sick by bringing us a delicious taco bar dinner. I am surrounded by wonderful cooks! And our hubby’s well they were all working hard…on work! Notice what is on the table in front of them? The sheet pan of frosted sugar cookie bars! We’ve shared a lot of life together over the years with these families, whatever you do, do not do life alone!
Let’s get going on these bad boys! Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and lining a ½ sheet pan – the big one (18×13) with foil, parchment paper or non-stick spray. I’ve never tried to halve the recipe, but I bet you could and just press them into a greased 9×13″ pan. Cut the recipe in half and follow the instructions.
Start by plopping your room temp butter into your mixer bowl.
TIP: Remember, if you forget to take your butter out, just microwave it for 8-12 seconds (every microwave is different, so find which is best for your butter).
Then pour in your sugar…
…cream sugar and butter for a couple of minutes at medium to medium-high speed. I like to use all natural cane sugar, which is not bleached and not quite as fine as bleached white sugar, so it takes a bit longer to cream into fluffy perfection. Scrape down sides before adding eggs.
Add your eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium for about 1 minute per egg! Scraping down sides after each addition.
While your eggs are whipping up, in a medium bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt with a whisk, set aside. (oops, I accidentally used my flash on this a no-no in the food photography world apparently! Oh well it sure does highlight the pretty egg.
Pour in a few glugs of vanilla…
Next add your flour mixture into your batter, ½ cup at a time, mixing on low until blended. Scraping down sides often.
Try and not overmix, but make sure all of your flour is incorporated.
Dump your dough into the prepared sheet pan, if there is a little bit of flour and crumbly parts, just knead it into the dough.
Spray a non-stick piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper and put on top of dough to aid in spreading. Smoothing to the corners to evenly distribute the dough.
Like this! When I’m doing my sugar cookie “button” bites, I like to use parchment or foil to I can lift them out, otherwise many times I will just spray my pan.
Bake for 10 minutes, no longer, they will look pale and undone to some extent, therein lies the beauty of these babies! Remove from oven and cool completely prior to frosting.
I will typically cool mine and then cover with foil or tight plastic wrap and frost the following day. You may also remove entire sheet from pan, snugly wrap in plastic wrap and freeze if you are making larger quantities!
FROSTING INSTRUCTIONS: Now for the frosting, this is a delicious, light, fluffy, buttery, out-of-this-world creamy frosting! This is a super soft frosting that works great to spread on these bar cookies, if piping the frosting reduce the amount of cream/milk for slightly stiffer frosting.
Start by placing your room temperature butter in the bowl of a mixer, whip it until nice and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
Then add your vanilla extract.
Next, if desired (optional for the recipe) grab a fresh vanilla bean or two, using the sharp tip of a knife, slice down the length of the bean, scoring the top of the bean, but not through the bottom. See those beautiful seeds! Separate the bean, to reveal the seeds, then using the back of the knife, scrape down the length of the bean to get the seeds. Scrape into bowl with butter and blend well, you may need to scrape off of the beater if seeds collect.
Toss in a pinch of salt, yes, salt, you won’t taste it but it truly brings out the flavors. (Normally I truly pinch it, but someone gave me these cute little measuring spoons that are a dash and a pinch.)
Now add your powdered sugar, a little at a time, alternating with the milk or cream, start by adding 4-5 tablespoons of milk or cream, adding more as needed.
Once all of your powdered sugar is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl, turn mixer on high and meet 4-5 minutes until smooth, occasionally scraping down the sides if needed.
If spreading directly onto sheet pan of cookies, spread evenly to all sides of the pan, using an off set spatula for ease.
If desired, add food color to tint, add sprinkles or keep plain and simple, nothing wrong with that! Once frosted, I like to cut through cookies with a hot knife scoring through the frosting. Chill for 30-60 minutes to allow frosting to firm up slightly before cutting completely. Make as big or small as you like!
If you are making the Sugar Cookie Buttons/Bites remove your cookie dough from pan and using a 1″ round or square cookie cutter cut buttons of cookies as close together as possible.
TIP: Don’t throw away the cookie “guts,” the little left over pieces after cutting out buttons, they are yummy by themselves or on ice cream!
Prepping for piping. If piping onto the bites, place frosting in piping bag.
TIP: Place piping bag inside of a large glass while filling, it will make it easier to fill and keep it ready at hand.
Pipe a small swirl of frosting onto each button. If using sprinkles or other decoration, do several cookies and then put sprinkles on before frosting has a chance to set up, if not, sprinkles will role right off! Change up frosting tips if desired for different effects, here I used tips 32 and 12.
Can you see my reflection in the silver Dragée?
A sheet pan makes about 86 bites! Figure 2-3 per person. May be frozen but, better freshly frosted!
Regardless of who you are making these for, they are little bites of heaven! Enjoy!
And lest anyone think that I don’t mess up, be assured I do! ALL THE. TIME! I made my first batch for the retreat on Wednesday night when I was tired and probably shouldn’t have been trying to bake. When I was finished with the dough, it was awfully dry and crumbly, I knew something wasn’t right, I must have reviewed the recipe 4 times and I couldn’t figure out what I missed. I decided to bake them anyway, the dough tasted fine. Finally, after re-reading the recipe several more times I realized I had put in 2 eggs instead of 4! Oops! So, I just made lemonade-iced cookies out of them! Added a touch of lemon zest and lemon juice to the frosting, and turned them into a sandwich cookie. They tasted great!
- SUGAR COOKIE BARS
- 1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 2 cups sugar (I use unbleached organic cane sugar)
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1-2 teaspoons vanilla
- pinch of salt
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 4-6 tablespoons of milk or cream
- food coloring (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 18x13 inch pan (½ sheet pan).
- Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides. If using natural cane sugar, mix for 2-4 minutes on high speed.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well (about 1 minute) after each addition, scrape bowl after each addition.
- While eggs are mixing, in medium bowl, measure out flour, baking soda and salt and whisk together to blend.
- Once eggs are creamed in, scrape down sides of bowl again, add vanilla and mix well.
- Slowly pour in flour, mixing on low speed until all the flour is incorporated, scrape down sides of bowl.
- Mix on medium speed for 30 seconds.
- Pour dough into prepared pan, using a non-stick sprayed piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, spread over top of of dough and spread evenly to all corners of the pan, making sure it's as even as possible.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, no longer, they will not look done, remove from oven and let cool completely. May be covered completely and frozen if need be.
- FROSTING INSTRUCTIONS
- While cookies cool (or take out of freezer, if frozen) make frosting.
- Place butter in the mixer bowl and whip on medium-high speed until fluffy.
- Add the vanilla and pinch of salt and whip up well.
- Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing on low.
- Pour 4 tablespoons (with mixer running) of milk or cream and whip up well, depending on consistency needed (less milk for piping) a little extra for spreading typically.
- Add more milk as needed.
- If you'd like to color the frosting, add small amounts of gel food coloring at at time until desired color.
- Don't add too much as it will thin the frosting, a little goes a long way.
- Spread onto bar of cookies. If making cookie bites, put frosting into piping bag and pipe onto cookie buttons.
- Add sprinkles if desired.
- Cut into bars