Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sugar Cookie Bars

These. Bars. Oh man… these bars are my nemesis.

You know those sweet treats that you absolutely CANNOT walk by without taking a tiny little nibble of?! Because you know, if you take them bite by bite they are totally less calories than if you just took the whole daggum thing.

Excellent logic, right? Not.

These sugar cookie bars are the reason I was at the gym last night working off 700+ calories to stay within my “caloric budget” for the day (UGHH I. HATE. DIETS.)!  I may or may not have eaten like 6 of them. I have no self control, I tell you. haha

I saw these bars on Annies-Eats and took her suggestion to add some additional flavoring to the original recipe. I added the paste of one vanilla bean, some additional vanilla extract, and just a touch of almond extract. I LOVE the flavor of almond extract when used in moderation… a little goes a LONG way!

Almond Extract brings me back to childhood… My grandparents live just outside of Cleveland, Ohio in a tiny town called Chagrin Falls (SUCH a cute town). We have been visiting there my entire life. Anytime there was a birthday or special occasion my Grammie would drive into Cleveland to Hough Bakery and pick up a cake. Well when Hough Bakery closed down, their head baker re-opened as “Archies Bakery”. It still holds the same flavors and traditions of the original!

Thank goodness, because Grams would have been HEART.BROKEN. Their cakes are to. die. for. Hints of… you guessed it, Almond Extract. LOVE. It’s turned into the family joke because my Grams LOVES their cakes so much. She will come up with ANY excuse to order one! And their cakes are, to her, that sweet treat that she cant walk by without taking a little nibble! Wonder where I get it from… 😉

She’s been known to lug cakes through airport security to bring them down here to Florida when she visits…. in fact the first time my grandparents met the hubs (& also my now sister in-law) was in Chicago (click the link for a few pics from that trip). We flew up there and my grandparents drove over to meet us. Grams bought a cake for “the occasion” (hah) and drove it on over to us. And because every occasion called for writing on a cake… she wrote on it, “Thank you Lord for everybody… and Bishop”. FYI: Bishop is our dog. haha And no, I’m not joking… I have a photo to prove it! I love that woman! haha

These cookies remind me of an Archies Cake! Plus they are easy peasy! Get the kids involved… mix the dough, press it into a pan, bake for 15 minutes… frost and slice. WHAM BAM, thank you ma’am!

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Sugar Cookie Bars

Cook Time: 12-16 minutes


For the Cookie Bars:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and remove seeds for use
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tablespoons milk (additional as needed)
Food coloring (optional)


For the Cookie Bars:
Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease and/or line a jelly roll pan (12" x 17"). In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until completely combined and fluffy (About 1 minute). Beat the eggs in, adding one at a time (scrape down sides as needed). Next add the vanilla extract, almond extract, and bean paste from the vanilla bean and beat until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time to the butter/sugar mixture and beat until just combined.

Transfer dough into prepared pan and gently press into an even layer (I found that using a piece of parchment paper was helpful as the dough was pretty sticky). Place in preheated oven and bake for 12-16 minutes (until toothpick is inserted and comes out clean... the bars will be lightly golden on the edges). Remove from oven and place on wire rack until cooled completely.

For the Frosting:
Place butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment and beat on medium high until smooth (roughly 1 minute). Add vanilla extract, almond extract, salt, and powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until fluffy and smooth. Add food coloring if desired. Spread evenly over cooled cookie bars, add sprinkles (if desired), slice into squares, and serve.

Adapted from: Annies Eats (Originally from: The Repressed Pastry Chef)

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41 Responses to “Sugar Cookie Bars”

  1. 1

    Kathryn — July 18, 2012 @ 6:21 am

    Look at all that sprinkle goodness, these bars just seem to shout ‘eat me!’

  2. 2

    Heidi @ Bits of Sunshine — July 18, 2012 @ 7:31 am

    These look so colourful and happy! And notto mention very yummy!

  3. 3

    Janine ( — July 18, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    Not only do these sound yummy but they look so pretty. Gotta love sprinkles!

  4. 4

    Mom — July 18, 2012 @ 10:16 am

    T-These look delicious! And “Grammie” can’t wait to make them with you next week…she is very excited! AND that means we all get to taste them 🙂 She has to buy parchment paper, but says she has everything else! 🙂 YUM!

  5. 5

    Stefanie @ Sarcastic Cooking — July 18, 2012 @ 10:28 am

    This recipe just made my morning! I seriously can not wait to make these. Sometimes the simplest flavors have the highest impact. Yum!

  6. 6

    Karla — July 18, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    I love almond cookies and cakes – I also love this sugar cookie bar recipe from Annie and am excited to try it with the addition of almond extract. Spanish bakeries usually make their cakes with almond extracts and are also a bit wet (not tres leches wet tho) and has become my favorite for my birthday each year!

  7. 7

    Katie @ Blonde Ambition — July 18, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    I love anything sugar cookie and especially anything covered in frosting! Cute stories about your grandma…I love that your dog made it onto the cake 😉

  8. 8

    Chels R. — July 18, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

    I need these bars in a bad way!!!!

  9. 9

    Susan J — July 18, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    I grew up with Hough Bakery cakes for every birthday! My Mom and Dad also would drive them to wherever we lived to bring a cake for their grand kids a Hough decorated birthday cake! My Mom was secretary to the President, Mr. Arthur Pile. I worked many school breaks at the bakery in various departments-canopies, shipping, conveyor belt cake decorating, office. I have many fond memories of Hough Bakery and wish Archie would open a bakery in Kansas City!

    • Tina replied: — July 19th, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

      LOVE. THIS. 🙂

  10. 10

    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — July 18, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

    I’m from Cleveland also and have never had one of those cakes. I’ll have to check it out next time I go home. These sugar cookie bars look amazing!

  11. 11

    Jessica — July 18, 2012 @ 5:01 pm


  12. 12

    Gail — July 18, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

    OMG! I couldn’t even finish reading the whole post!


    It was a devastating blow when they closed down. I have been searching in vain for their frosting recipe….for-ever.

    My parents bring me an Archie’s fix when they come down to visit, swoon. Archie’s needs a NC location. true story. Honey Hut too, wishful thinking.

    • Tina replied: — July 19th, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

      This makes me SO happy to hear other people LOVED Houghs (and still love Archies!) 🙂

  13. 13

    Denise @ Creative Kitchen — July 18, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

    Good for you working it off though. I’m having such success right now with healthy eating that I’m holding off on the treats. I sure love making them though. But I’m imagining a great holiday baking season with a buffer BELOW goal weight. I can attain it if I keep plugging along. 😉

  14. 14

    Carolyn — July 18, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    These look amazing! Do you think I could omit the vanilla bean and increase the vanilla extract a bit or would you say the bean is essential?

  15. 15

    Cookin' Canuck — July 18, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

    I love that your Gram lugs a big cake on a plane to bring it to Florida. So sweet! These bars would definitely be addictive. My kids would love these at their birthday parties.

  16. 16

    Lisa Gilbert — July 19, 2012 @ 12:12 am

    Tina… I just love you blog and I adore you! 😉 Love how you write just like you’re talking to us – I just know we’d be great friends if I lived in Florida! Keep up the great work – love your blog! Blessings…

    • Lisa Gilbert replied: — July 19th, 2012 @ 12:12 am

      *your blog 🙂

  17. 17

    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — July 19, 2012 @ 7:29 am

    Holy yum, yums these look incredible!!

  18. 18

    Sandra — July 19, 2012 @ 9:14 am

    This looks like a tray full of fun.

  19. 19

    Jessica@AKitchenAddiction — July 19, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    These look amazing! Sprinkles are the best!

  20. 20

    Jodie — July 19, 2012 @ 10:56 am

    Hi Tina! These bars look so yummy! I have a question though, (you’ll probably think it’s a stupid one…) Where do you buy vanilla beans? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them in the store…. Thanks! I want to try these soon! Jodie

    • Tina replied: — July 19th, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

      NOT a dumb question at all. They sell them in the spice aisle at the grocery store… HOWEVER it’s usually like $8-$9 for ONE vanilla bean in a jar (CRAZY). I like to buy mine online: Beanilla always has great pricing. Or if you have a Costco Membership – they sell them in bulk during the holidays 🙂 Hope that helps!

  21. 21

    Naomi — July 19, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    Hmmmmm…..looks so good. My girls will love these! But question. What kind of cookie sheet is that? I’ve never seen one with ridged bottom.

    • Tina replied: — July 19th, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

      It’s a Williams Sonoma Gold Touch pan… my mom gave it to me for my birthday a fews weeks ago & I LOOOOOVVVVEEEE it 🙂

  22. 22

    Sara — July 19, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    I made these for the first time about a month ago and not only are they easy…but they are SO good. Mine were a bit undercooked in the middle and it was like eating cookie dough. LOVE!

  23. 23

    Alyssa — July 19, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    These look delish! Although I’m pretty sure I would eat the whole entire pan if I made them!

  24. 24

    Cindy — July 20, 2012 @ 10:00 am

    Love sugar cookies with frosting, but when I saw Archie’s mentioned I said YES! Will be making these soon. I will be celebrating my birthday in 3 weeks and of course I will enjoy my Archie’s Birthday cake, with vanilla ice cream of course!!!!

  25. 25

    Janice — July 22, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    Hi all, I just made these, and they were perfect. This reminds me of one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes but 10 times easier. Thanks Tina for sharing.

  26. 26

    Jodie — July 28, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    Thanks for letting me know where to buy the vanilla beans Tina!
    Have a great weekend! Jodie

  27. 27

    Saturday Shenanigans — July 28, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

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  28. 28

    Stop what you’re doing and look at this! « Kerry Cooks — August 2, 2012 @ 4:02 am

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  29. 29

    Jessica — August 5, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

    I made this yesterday. Amazing! The shortbread part was tender and frosting delectable. I used red food coloring and enjoyed pink frosting. A keeper!

  30. 30

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  31. 31

    Michelle S. — September 13, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

    These ROCK!! I made them for a class of mine and after the chorus of “ooohs” & “aaaaahs” I recieved they were gone in 10 seconds flat!! Amen to the almond flavoring – it was perfect! Thanks for an awesome recipe!!

  32. 32

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  33. 33

    Betsy Cohen — February 9, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

    I can relate to what you so beautifully wrote about Hough and Archie’s!

    I grew up in Shaker Heights and LOVED Hough Bakeries. My dad still lives in Cleveland and I was able to beg him to bring me Archie’s once when he came to Florida, but not after that. A couple of years ago, I participated in the Komen 60 mile 3-Day For the Cure walk and purposely chose Cleveland so that I could go to Archie’s after the walk.

    I turned the trip to Archie’s into an ‘Amazing Find’ on my blog and had a great time introducing Archie’s to two of my children. We came home carrying 2 boxes of cookies, 1 box of Coconut Bars and 1 whole cake. Thank goodness there were three of us on the flight back to Florida!

  34. 34

    Shelby — March 8, 2014 @ 7:40 am

    I pinned this recipe shortly after you posted it. Unfortunately I’m a pinaholic, so I’ve pinned so many darn dessert recipes I hadn’t gotten this made yet.

    I decided to make them last night to take to a girls weekend with some of my old high school friends this weekend. Of course, right after I had them made I HAD to try one…to make sure they were good enough to take 😉 They are so awesome! They are even better than regular sugar cookies! I’m a fan of almond flavoring, so I really liked the use of that in addition to the vanilla.

    I’m definitely going to be making these again! They’d be perfect to take to work potlucks since it makes such a big pan! And I love that you can make them festive and holiday-ish by coloring the icing and using colored sprinkles to fit the occasion. (I have an addiction to sprinkles and Americolor gel colors, so I have lots to choose from!)

    Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe! I’m moving it from my “Bar & Brownie Recipes to Try” board over to my “Tried and True Delicious Recipes” board! It’s a keeper.

  35. 35

    Stop what you're doing and look at this!*% Kerry Cooks — March 21, 2014 @ 3:03 am

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