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Sugar Cookie Bars with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

 

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I made these for a July 4th family BBQ at my parents’ house. I grew up in a small town in Northern Utah; there are no gas stations, no stores, no stoplights, and no noise. It was torturous as a teenager. Anyway, back to my parents’ house, we had our BBQ in the shade of their tall hedges that border the west side of the yard. The large yard has open fields to the South and East and is surrounded by beautiful views of the mountains in Cache Valley. As the sun started to ease it’s way to the horizon and the heat of the day started to wear off it was so enjoyable to just relax in the backyard. I was reminded of how lucky I was to have grown up in such a peaceful, beautiful place. As the time grew closer to my toddlers bedtime I kept saying to my husband, “we should go” but neither of us wanted to. I think we left an hour later than we were planning on.

These are the perfect treat for large gatherings, it makes 1 large and 1 medium baking sheet. This is my mom’s sugar cookie recipe which is a family favorite because they are super soft and chewy! I added some lemon to the cream cheese frosting I usually make, and it was the perfect hint of fresh lemon.

 Recipe: 

For the cookie: every time a recipe calls for shortening I replace it with coconut oil. As long as you mix it well with the sugar it has always works out. Coconut oil does clump up when it gets cold and I saw a few clumps in my batter but it didn’t affect how it cooked. I get my coconut oil from bountiful baskets. They sell regular and unscented and it is a huge 64 oz bottle for about $20.

3/4 cup coconut oil at room temperature (or shortening)

3 cups of sugar

2 cups of sour cream

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp baking powder

7-8 cups flour

Directions: In a large bowl combine the coconut oil and sugar. Beat on high with a kitchen mixer for a good 2-3 minutes make sure the coconut oil is at room temperature so it mixes well with the sugar. Add sour cream, vanilla, and eggs and cream again for a couple minutes until mixed well. Add baking powder, and 2 cups of flour and mix on low until combined. Continue adding flour 2 cups at at time and stirring after each addition. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold at least 1 hour or overnight.

After the dough has chilled Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray a large jelly roll pan (17″x12.5″) and a medium jelly roll pan (15.5″x10.5″). Lightly flour your counter and roll out a large piece of dough  into a smooth, rectangular shape and 1/3 inch thick. Continue until you have filled both pans. I pieced my dough together in the pan and pushed it together with my fingers. Bake for 15 minutes for the large pan and 12 minutes for the small pan. Let cool before frosting.

For the frosting:

8 oz reduced fat Cream Cheese at room temperature

1/4 cup of butter (1/2 cube) room temperature

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1.5 lemons

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

5-6 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl cream the cream cheese and butter. Add zest of lemon, lemon juice, and vanilla and cream again. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and mix on low. Add 2 more cups and mix again. Add 1-2 more cups of powdered sugar until you have reached your desired consistency. Frost cookies and top with sprinkles if desired.

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