Um, you guys. You need to make these bars. I know it probably seems like I’m always telling you to make this and make that but this time I really mean it. Okay, I always mean it but right now I really, really mean it. Make these bars. They’re like the best sugar cookie you’ve ever had, made a bajillion times easier because you don’t have to roll out the dough 80 times and use cookie cutters and individually frost each one. That whole process is fun and all around Christmas but when you’re just a girl, standing in front of an oven, asking it for some sugar cookies (Notting Hill, anyone?) you want those sugar cookies NOW. Not in 5 hours, amiright?
While the thought of me standing in front of my oven begging for sugar cookies might be funny, I actually dreamt up these bars with a craving for something lemony. Maybe it’s the constant negative degree weather or maybe it’s just my recent obsession with bright and citrusy desserts (coconut orange muffins, anyone?) but I needed something reminiscent of spring in my cold winter afternoon. With only one lemon to my name lemon bars weren’t an option, but lemon cookie bars were. You only need the zest of one lemon! To make the bars even “springier” (I made that word up) I whipped up a batch of strawberry buttercream for the frosting.
These bars are seriously a burst of spring in your mouth. The sugar cookie bar is thick, chewy, and bursting with lemon flavor and is complemented perfectly by the naturally-flavored strawberry frosting. They’re also festive for Valentine’s Day because they’re pink so I see them as a nice way to accept that it is still February, but get your mind and body ready for the start of spring. Or something like that. Really, you don’t need any reasoning to make these bars…just DO IT.
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp)
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup strawberry puree*
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Grease 9x13" pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine.
- Add vanilla extract and lemon zest, beating well.
- In medium bowl whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Add slowly to butter mixture and beat until combined.
- Pour into prepared baking dish and spread out evenly.
- Bake in preheated oven 15-20 minutes. The bars will be barely set and will not have any color around the edges...that is okay!
- Let cool completely.
- Cream together the butter and powdered sugar.
- Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Add strawberry puree and beat until well combined.
- Spread evenly over cooled bars.
- Cut into squares and enjoy!