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

Ingredients:

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)

Directions:

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)