Admittedly, these Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Bars aren't on the same level as the frosted sugar cookies my sister, Lisa, rolls out and turns into Santas, ornaments, stars and stockings each year. There's just something about biting into one of those cookies - lightly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside with the sweetness of almond-flavored homemade icing on top.
Yeah, these aren't those. On the other hand, these sugar cookie bars take about a 10th of the investment of time. And they still:
1) Taste good.
2) Look pretty on a cookie tray.
Score and score!
Cream cheese gives good flavor and moistness to the bars. The original recipe called for vanilla. I am a sucker for almond flavoring. (See above!) So that's what I used. They do have a taste and texture similar to the Lofthouse brand cookies you buy at the store. But this homemade version is better, even if it's square rather than round.
Decorate them with cute holiday sugars and sprinkles and you have a tasty alternative to rolled sugar cookies.
I will, however, be looking forward to Lisa's cutout sugar cookies on Christmas Eve. I won't lie. (No pressure, Lisa.)
Lofthouse Sugar Cookie Bars
Adapted from Cookies and Cups blog
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp. almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (opt.)
Holiday sprinkles (opt.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a jelly roll pan (15- by 10- by 1-inch) with cooking spray.
In mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar together. Add in egg and almond extract until incorporated. With mixer on low, add dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
Press dough into prepared pan. (Dough is sticky. It may help to use an offset spatula to help spread the dough.) Bake for 20 minutes until edges begin to turn golden brown. Cool completely before frosting.
Frosting: Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in powdered sugar until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add almond extract and milk and mix well. Add a little more milk, if needed. Tint frosting as desired. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Decorate with sprinkles as desired. Cut into bars.
I will also be making these Caramel Chip Bars
this week. Though they use a cake mix as a base, they are more candy than cake or cookie since they are packed with mini chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and caramel bits. Even though I'm trying to simplify and not make as many things this year, this recipe makes the cut. Yes, it's that good!
I'm linked today to Wake Up Wednesday
through Wichita blogger Ashley's Kitchen Meets Girl. Need some other holiday cooking ideas? Click on the Wake Up Wednesday link.