Sugar Cookie Bars

This came about from a craving for sugar cookies, but without the desire to make the dough, cool, roll, cut, and bake. I wanted something plain and simple, easy to make, with delicious results.

These cookie bars are just that. The dough takes about five minutes to whip up, you press it all into a pan, then bake, cool, and top with the frosting that also comes together in a flash.

I got the recipe here, and I am so glad I finally gave these a go! They have been on my Pinterest boards forever, and were desperately crying out for me to make them. They are soft, chewy, and just everything you want in a simple sugar cookie. Not going to lie, I cut the bars into 16 pieces, so slightly smaller than the recipe calls for, but I feel like 16 is the perfect number. Paul was also watching, and he was very excited for a big piece of a cookie bar. (He also basically licked the bowl clean when I finished spreading the frosting… What can I say? The man loves his sweets!)

Go make these! Please, you need them in your life!

Ingredients

Yield: About 12-16 bars, depending on cut size

For the cookie dough:

½ c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 tbsp. sour cream
1 egg
½ tsp. vanilla
2½ c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher or sea salt

For the frosting:

½ c. butter, softened
4 c. icing sugar
4-6 tbsp. whipping cream (milk works as well, just use less)
½ tsp. vanilla
Pinch kosher or sea salt
Food colouring (if desired)
Sprinkles (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper, set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until pale and well-combined.

Add in the sour cream, egg, and vanilla, and mix again. Add in the flour, salt, and baking powder, and mix on low speed until completely incorporated and a cohesive dough forms.

Press into the prepared baking pan in an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 16-17 minutes. If the edges start to turn brown, take out of the oven immediately.

Let cool completely before frosting.

While the cookie bars are cooling, make the frosting.

In the bowl of a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the butter until creamy. Add in the icing sugar, a half cup at a time, adding in the vanilla and a little bit of milk or cream at a time to get to the right consistency (it should be spreadable, but not too thin). Add in the food colouring, and whip until cohesive.

Spread onto the cooled cookie bars, then remove from pan (the parchment paper is helpful here…. handles!) and slice into bars. Store in the refrigerator for firmer icing, or at room temperature for softer icing.

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Chewy Sugar Cookies

Wow, these cookies were awesome! So simple to make, and they were gone in about a day and a half. (Granted, I did give some away, but that’s a story for later in the post!)

I loved how simple this recipe was, and how it yielded some great results. All the ingredients are basic, pantry staples, and I couldn’t have been happier. It was the perfect recipe for a “Wake-up-and-randomly-decide-to-make-cookies” kind of day. I had everything I needed, and as I said before, the result was a soft, chewy cookie, so simple, and so tasty.

I found the original recipe here, and followed it to a tee. There were no changes that I made, because the recipe is so simple and straightforward. If you’re really being nitpicky, I did use a clear vanilla extract instead of the brown vanilla extract, but that was because I wanted the cookies to stay a beautiful pure white colour.

The reason that these cookies went so fast, was because I gave some away. The weekend I made these, I was taking care of a friend’s dogs. I went over to her house to walk the dogs before bed, and as I was leaving, it was very dark out, and I turned a little too sharply while backing out of her driveway. I ended up bottoming out the left side of my car in a massive snowdrift! I had to dig out my car, and I was wrestling with the snowdrift for probably half an hour, or more. My friend had some guests staying with her, and they got back to the house and helped me push my car free. Huzzah! So these cookies were “I-want-cookies” cookies, but also “Thank-you-for-pushing-my-car-out-of-a-huge-snowdrift-because-reversing-in-the-dark-is-much-more-difficult-in-unfamiliar-driveways” cookies. Yeah, you got tired reading that? Imagine how I felt. It was a hot mess! (Also, I promise I’m a good driver. The driveway is just unfamiliar, curved, and there were obstacles to avoid, hence the sharp turn.)

Either way, these cookies are absolutely wonderful. They will definitely become something I make more often, with how simple and easy they are, with such high results!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 3½ dozen cookies

1 c. butter, softened
1½ c. sugar
1 egg
2¼ c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ c. sugar, for garnishing

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or Silpat sheets.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the egg and mix until well-combined.

Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until well-mixed and cohesive.

Scoop cookie dough by the teaspoonful and roll into a ball. Roll in the garnishing sugar.

Place cookie balls on a baking sheet, and flatten slightly with your hand.

Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks, and store in an airtight container.

Chai Biscotti

Yes, another chai recipe, and another biscotti recipe! When I was visiting with the lovely Serena (again, an avid blog follower, sister-in-law, amazing painter, and all-around fantastic human being), we went a little chai-crazy.

We made the Chai cheesecake featured on my last blog post, and we also made these amazing chai biscotti!

Biscotti are so simple to make, and we couldn’t resist. Serena, being a fellow tea-fan, was all for another snack to dip in a good cup of tea. She was also still very excited about the Chai spice blend she got her hands on, and I can’t blame her! I was so excited when I received a jar as a gift!

So, when we made these biscotti, we used a spice blend. I will also put measurements for the different spices, if you do not have a spice blend. A third option would be to grind up a few chai teabags (to make it really fine) and add those in to the biscotti. All good options. I found the original recipe here, and I am so happy I did! These biscotti are major winners in my book!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 2 dozen biscotti (depending on cut size)

For the biscotti dough:

2¼ c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
½ tsp. vanilla
2½ tsp. Chai spice blend (or use the following:)
½ tsp. cardamom
½ tsp. clove
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. star anise
¼ tsp. white pepper

For the Chai glaze:

½ c. icing sugar
1 tbsp. strong brewed Chai tea
OR instead of brewed Chai tea,
2-4 tsp of milk (depending on consistency)
1 tsp. Chai spice blend

Preheat oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and Chai spices. Whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until well combined. Add the vanilla and whisk again.

Add dry ingredients to wet, and fold together until combined. The mixture might look dry.

Using your hands, transfer the dough to the baking sheet and pat into 1 large dough log (for larger biscotti), or 2 smaller dough logs (for smaller biscotti). Shape the dough into long, flat-topped logs, patting down the tops with your hands.

Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, turning halfway through baking.

Remove pan from oven, and let cool 5 minutes. Spritz the biscotti logs with water to soften them just a bit for cutting.

Transfer the dough to a cutting board, and slice with a sharp serrated knife into ½ inch slices. Transfer the cut biscotti back to the baking sheet, one cut side down, and bake for 8 minutes. Turn the biscotti, and bake for 7-8 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack with parchment paper underneath.

As the biscotti are cooling, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Wait until biscotti are cool, then drizzle glaze over biscotti. Serve with your favourite warm beverage!

Simple Meringue Cookies

My apologies lovely readers!

I have been ridiculously busy! January and February in a high school is always a busy time. The first semester is ending, final exams are happening, and teachers need to prepare for the beginning of the second semester, and they usually only have a few days to do it!

I haven’t even been baking that much, and I feel badly that you, and my blog, have been neglected! I decided to set that straight with a simple recipe that doesn’t take long to whip up, and yields deliciously wonderful results!

Paul is a huge fan of meringue cookies, and I had some leftover egg whites sitting in the fridge just waiting for me to use them. I decided meringues was the perfect way to use them up and not waste them.

Now, meringue cookies are usually one of two things: crisp all the way through, or a little soft and gooey in the middle. Paul is a fan of the gooey-in-the-middle ones, and I don’t mind either, so I ended up making some of both sizes, and we got to enjoy both.

I added a little bit of Root Beer Concentrate into my meringue to make them Root Beer flavoured, but you can leave them flavourless, or add any regular extract (and some food colouring) to jazz them up a little.

Meringues are fairly simple to make as well, as long as you have a stand mixer. If you don’t, prepare for an arm workout! I do, and it’s made my life so much easier. Also, these meringues are a great gluten-free cookie if you are on a gluten-free diet. I got the recipe for these meringues here, and the author just left them plain. Also, hers look a little prettier: if you want to make them look super fancy, put a special frosting tip, like a Wilton 1M into your piping bag. If you don’t care how they look (a.k.a. me when I made them!) you can just cut the tip off a piping bag and pipe them that way (which is what I did), or just plop the meringue into little piles on your baking sheet.

One tip for making meringue: you want to make sure your bowl is COMPLETELY grease-free and egg yolk free. If any grease or egg yolk gets into the bowl or the whites, the whites will not whip up properly. One way to avoid yolks is to use a container of just egg whites (which I buy when I have a recipe that calls for a lot of just egg whites). You can also crack the eggs into a bowl, and crack the egg on a flat surface, not the rim of the bowl.

The more you know, right?

Now, on to meringues!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 24 cookies

2 egg whites, at room temperature
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
½ c. sugar (superfine is easiest, but it still works with regular granulated sugar)

Preheat oven to 225°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Place the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and salt, and beat until soft peaks form.

With the mixer running, slowly add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form.

If you add food colouring and flavouring, add it just as stiff peaks start to form.

Pipe or scoop tablespoons of meringue mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. Make them smaller for crispy meringues throughout, and a little larger for chewy meringues. Again, I made both.

Bake for 45 minutes, then turn the oven off. Do not open the door. Let the meringues sit in the warm oven for 1 hour before removing.

Vanilla Biscotti

Oh my gosh! These vanilla biscotti are amazing! So simple, and such a classic flavour. Paul was extremely happy about these, and so was I. I added a little extra vanilla, just to amp up the flavour, and when Paul took his first bite, his reaction made me a little scared that I put too much vanilla in. Nope! He said it was just the right amount, and I agree.

Biscotti are definitely this year’s Sugar and Spice addiction. You know how it is. These things come and go, and right now, my favourite thing to experiment with is biscotti!

I got the original recipe here, and as I said, I just added extra vanilla. I also changed the second bake time instructions slightly. I didn’t lower the oven heat, and I flipped the cut biscotti after about 12 minutes. Other than that, I did learn a new trick for slicing the biscotti and making it easier, instead of crumbly ends.

When you take the biscotti out of the oven after the first bake, spritz it lightly with water, making sure to get the tops and sides. It softens the outer crust just enough to make a nicer cut. Who knew?! Well, now I do, and you do as well!

Go make these. They are such a lovely, classic flavour that they will go with any warm drink!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 20-22 biscotti, depending on cut size

6 tbsp. butter
2/3 c. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract (I used 2 tsp.)
1½ tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
2 c. flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a mixer, or a medium bowl, combine the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs. The batter may look slightly curdled, but it isn’t. Add in the flour, and stir until smooth.

Scoop out the dough, and shape it into a rough log about 12 inches long. Flatten slightly, but keep the middle slightly mounded.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the biscotti is light golden brown all over. Remove from oven, spritz all over with room temperature water, and let sit for five minutes.

Transfer to a cutting board, and use a serrated knife to slice biscotti. Place cut side down on the baking sheet, and return to the oven for 12 minutes, or until bottoms are just starting to turn golden brown.

Remove from the oven, flip the biscotti to the other cut side, and bake for 10-12 minutes until outsides are dry, and they are starting to turn golden brown, then remove from the oven.

Cool on a wire rack, and serve with a warm drink, like tea, coffee, or hot chocolate!