Two hours before we were supposed to leave for a gathering, I discovered that it was a housewarming party (not a bunch of friends meeting at a nearby bar!) I love to bring treats to parties, so I had to make something that I could easily finish in a limited time frame. Within 2 hours, I had baked, frosted & cut up these bars, walked the dog for 45 minutes, and gotten ready for the party. To speed the process along, I did place the bars in the fridge to finish cooling so that they were completely cool by the time I frosted them.
These were a huge hit - both by the people at the party, and my co-workers who enjoyed the other 1/2 of the pan the next day! Even though they were 2 days old by the time they were finished, people were still raving about them (down to the last crumb left in the tupperware). The vanilla beans give the cookie a great flavor (along with the beautiful specks!), and the cream cheese in the frosting keeps it from being overly sweet.
VANILLA SUGAR COOKIE BARS (Adapted from Annie's Eats)
Makes approx 48 bars (2x2 inches each)
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tbls. vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease a rimmed baking sheet (mine was 12 x 16″) with butter.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the vanilla and seeds from the vanilla beans. Mix in baking soda. Add flour into mixer bowl, and beat on low speed just until incorporated.
Transfer the cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet and press into an even layer. Bake approximately 15 minutes, until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners sugar
Food coloring (optional)
To make the frosting, place the butter & cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla and confectioners sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Tint as desired with food coloring. Spread over the cookie in the pan, garnish as desired, cut into bars and serve.