Festive Sugar Cookie Bars

I hope everyone had a lovely Fourth of July celebration. 🙂

We had a very low-key day followed by a delicious meal prepared on the grill, in Fourth of July fashion. This fun dessert was a festive way to end the day! The meringue icing was incredibly thick and fluffy; the pattern could be easily modified to decorate for any occasion.

This recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens. The cookies kept well for several days in the refrigerator.

Yield: 24 bars

For the Sugar Cookie Bars:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • Meringue Icing (recipe follows)
  • red and blue paste food colorings

For the Meringue Icing:

  • 3 cups Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 T meringue powder
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a half sheet pan (15×10-inch baking pan) with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment paper, and coat the parchment with cooking spray.
  3. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a large bowl beat butter with mixer on medium speed 30 seconds. Add sugars; beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Beat in egg and vanilla bean paste.
  6. Beat in flour mixture. (Dough will be crumbly.)
  7. Pat dough firmly and evenly into prepared pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  8. Meanwhile prepare Meringue Icing. In a large bowl beat Confectioners’ sugar, ½ cup water, the meringue powder, and cream of tartar with mixer on high 3 to 5 minutes or until thick and fluffy.
  9. Divide three 1/4-cup portions into small bowls. Cover remaining Meringue Icing to prevent drying out.
  10. Tint 1/4-cup portions with paste food coloring to make red, light blue, and dark blue. Transfer each to a small resealable (sandwich) plastic bag.
  11. Evenly spread remaining Meringue Icing onto cooled cookie.
  12. For firework “burst” design, snip a small corner from each pastry bag. Pipe concentric circles in different sizes with tinted colors. Pull a toothpick from center to outer edge to create the firework pattern; wipe or replace the toothpick between each pull. Repeat as desired.
  13. Chill, uncovered, 2 hours or until icing sets. To store, cover loosely with foil and chill up to 3 days.

 

Soft-Baked Funfetti Cookies

While I’m sharing kid-friendly treats loaded with colorful sprinkles, it seems like the perfect time to post these funfetti cookies! 🙂 I made these for a special annual lunch that I have with friends from my former job. I miss them. ❤  All of our kids have known each other since they were babies- it is also wonderful to get them all together at least a few times a year.

This recipe was adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction. I doubled the recipe and reduced the baking time. They were a big hit. 🙂

Yield: 42 cookies

  • 1 cup (230 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (380 g) spoon & leveled all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (80 g) sprinkles, plus more for sprinkle on top before baking
  1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Get it nice and smooth, then add the sugar on medium speed until fluffy and light in color, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides as needed. Set aside.
  3. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tartar.
  4. With the mixer running on low-speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 different parts. The dough is quite thick and you may have to stir the rest by hand.
  5. Once combined, fold in 1 cup sprinkles.
  6. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Make sure the balls are taller, rather than wide. Add a few more sprinkles on top of each ball dough.
  7. Chill the balls of dough on the cookie sheet for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours in the refrigerator. This step will prevent spreading in the oven. (I chilled the balls of dough for 22 hours prior to baking.)
  8. Preheat oven to 350F, preferably on convection.
  9. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mats.
  10. Bake chilled cookie dough for 9 to 10 minutes. The cookies will appear undone and very soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheets for 3 to 5 minutes and move to wire rack to cool completely.

Note: Cookies stay soft & fresh for up to 1 week at room temperature. They also freeze well. Cookies may be rolled into balls and frozen up to 3 months to bake at a later date.

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Milk Bar Sugar Cookie-Cake Squares

My word. These were yummy. Easy too. We had them as part of our Memorial Day cookout along with a skillet chocolate chip cookie– and ice cream, of course! All-American, right? 😉

This recipe was adapted from Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi, via the Washington Post. Apparently, these cookie squares are known as “The Greta” (named after Tosi’s mother) at Momofuku Milk Bar. They would be perfect with red (or even red, white, and blue!) sprinkles for the Fourth of July. I opted to top them with cinnamon sugar which is another tasty option. 🙂

Yield: 2 dozen 2-inch cookie-cakes

  • 2 sticks, 16 T, unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola, grapeseed, or other neutral oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 to 4 T decorative sprinkles or sparkling sugar OR 1 T granulated sugar mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease a 9 x 13-inch deep sided baking pan with butter. Line with parchment paper- hanging over all sides of the pan. Coat the parchment paper with cooking oil spray.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high-speed for 3 minutes, until fluffy and homogenous. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute, or until just combined. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
  5. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat on medium-low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, then add the milk and beat for about 30 seconds to form a soft dough.
  6. Using an offset spatula, spread the dough evenly in the pan, making sure it gets into the corners.
  7. Scatter the cinnamon-sugar or sprinkles on top generously.
  8. Bake on the center rack for 20 (if you desire a slightly under-baked in the center cookie) to 30 minutes (for a firmer cookie), or until the cookie slab has puffed, lightly browned and is firm to the touch.
  9. Cool completely in the pan.
  10. Using the parchment paper, remove cookie the cookie from the pan. Cut into 24 two-inch squares.

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Soft Baked Snickerdoodles

I am drawn to recipes promising soft-baked and perfectly puffy cookies because I love the texture. BUT… I think it’s me… My soft-baked cookies are soft and delicious, but never as puffy. It’s weird! (and disappointing…) I’m blaming every oven I’ve ever had. 🙂 It just can’t be me! 😉

Snickerdoodles just seem like the perfect autumn cookie. The cinnamon sugar topping is really season-less, but it just speaks to me this time of year. Most recipes seem to include shortening which is an ingredient that I completely avoid. This wonderful shortening-free recipe is from Buttercup Baking. Her cookies were SO puffy!! Mine were a little flatter (as you now know!) but super tasty.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix.
  4. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and baking soda.
  5. Add the salt after sifting and add the flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
  6. To Make the Topping: In a small shallow bowl, mix 2 T of sugar and 2 tsp of cinnamon.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, make equally portioned balls of dough, about 3 dozen.
  8. Roll the balls of dough into the cinnamon sugar topping and place on baking sheet lined with a silicone baking sheet or parchment paper.
  9. Bake in oven for 8 minutes on convection or up to 10 minutes in a standard oven (do not overbake). Let sit on baking sheet for 3 minutes before moving to cooling rack. The cookies will continue to cook on the baking sheet (so do not be tempted to put them back in the oven).

Note: These cookies are best eaten within a few days. For best taste, store in an air-tight container with a slice of white bread to absorb excess moisture.

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Candy Corn Sugar Cookies

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It can be so upsetting to bake for classrooms of kids…. I have learned my lesson the hard way. Laboring over homemade birthday cupcakes with cute decorations to bring in for preschool birthday celebrations, only to see kids lick off the frosting and throw them in the garbage… take one bite and throw them in the garbage…. You get the idea.

Both of my kids (now in 2nd & 4th grade) had a Halloween celebration at school this year where parents were asked to volunteer to help or bring in treats or supplies. I can’t help myself! I had to volunteer to bake. 🙂 Our first plan was to make bat sugar cookies. Then I imagined rolling, cutting, chilling, baking, and decorating 60 bats and watching kids throw them out. Nope. When I saw these festive bite-sized sugar cookies I knew that they were a much better choice. Cute and quick. My kids also helped make them by rolling the dough into balls, sprinkling the sanding sugar, and adding the candy corns. This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living Special Issues.

My son and daughter each brought 30 sugar and 30 chocolate-sugar cookies to school to celebrate. Perfect! I had a couple leftover to bring to Fiesta Friday #40 this week too! Happy Halloween! 🙂

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Yield: 64 bite-sized cookies

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 stick, very soft
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • orange sanding sugar
  • About 64 candy corns (I used Brach’s)

Note: To make the chocolate variation: Reduce the amount of all-purpose flour to 1 cup. Add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour in step 3.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (convection). Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Beat in egg yolks, vanilla, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add flour (and cocoa if making the chocolate version), and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Scoop out level teaspoons of dough (I used the teaspoon side of my melon baller & scooped it out with a tiny condiment spoon), and roll into balls. Chill dough balls for about 10 minutes prior to baking.
  5. Place balls on 3 parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with orange sanding sugar.
  6. Bake until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 9 to 10 minutes on convection, or up to 12 minutes in a standard oven.
  7. Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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Snickerdoodles

I have been craving snickerdoodles!! Initially, every recipe I found required shortening- which I really didn’t want to use. I was worried that substituting butter may cause the cookies to spread too thin when baking. Then I found this all-butter recipe in Food and Wine. Yay! I believe the addition of cream of tartar may have helped keep the volume in these crispy cookies.

Snickerdoodles originated in 19th-century New England. The dough is usually coated in cinnamon, but this cookie dough is rolled in cinnamon-sugar before baking. My daughter and I made these cookies to bring to a friend to accompany Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches and Coleslaw– an all-American meal! 🙂 I had to keep a few extra for my family too, of course.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by John Currence of Hill-Country Cookout.

  • Yield: Makes 32 cookies
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with 1 1/2 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and beat at low speed until a smooth dough forms. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. (or freeze for 30 minutes!)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon. Scoop the dough into tablespoon-size balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar to coat. IMG_6029
  3. Arrange the balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets and bake for about 15 (on convection) to 20 minutes, or until golden on the bottom. Leave the cookies on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool.

One Year Ago:

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Bean-Infused Turbinado Sugar

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My husband uses raw, or turbinado, sugar to sweeten his coffee. After scraping the seeds from a vanilla bean, I put the bean into the turbinado sugar to infuse it with vanilla flavor. SO GREAT for coffee, topping muffins, or these cookies! This recipe was adapted from Everyday Food. Tasty cookies that can be made in 30 minutes.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • vanilla bean-infused turbinado sugar or sanding sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with one rack in upper third and another in lower third. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat well to combine.
  3. With mixer on low, add half the flour mixture, followed by sour cream, then remaining flour mixture; mix just until smooth. (Dough will be stiff; you may need to finish mixing it by hand with a wooden spoon.)
  4. Using a cookie scoop, drop mounds of dough, each equal to about 1 1/2 tablespoons, 2 to 3 inches apart, onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets; sprinkle with sugar. Bake until edges of cookies are just firm and tops are barely beginning to brown, 13 to 14 minutes on convection, rotating sheets once halfway through (if using a conventional oven). Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.

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