Sugar Cookie Bars
Yield: about 4 dozen bars
For the cookie bars:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise ( didn't add this because I didn't have any on hand. The cookies were still good.)
Zest from 1 lemon
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 c. shortening (if you really like the butter flavor you can just add another 1/2 cup of butter)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
5 tbsp. milk
Food coloring (optional)
To make the cookies, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease a 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet (mine was 12 x 17″). Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric 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, seeds from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir together with a fork to blend. Add the dry ingredients to the 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 10-15 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla, salt, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the milk. Tint as desired with food coloring. Spread over the cookie in the pan, cut into bars and serve.
Source: adapted from The Repressed Pastry Chef , Annie's Eats and my own changes.