Always on the lookout for an easy cookie recipe, I recently came across this one in the New York Times Food section. Adapted by Margaux Laskey, it originated with American Girl, presumably that’s a reference to American Girl dolls, which as a boy-mom but an elementary teacher, I have only a passing acquaintance with.
We now have a granddaughter who is not quite into dolls, but, should that change, we’ll have a cookie at the ready.
adapted from American Girl Cookies by Margaux Laskey
FOR THE BARS:
- 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2 ¾ cups/350 grams all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 (8-ounce/225-gram) package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 ½ cups/300 grams granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
FOR THE FROSTING:
- 6 tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
- 2 cups/245 grams confectioners’ sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, plus more as needed
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- A drop or two of gel food coloring (optional)
- Assorted sprinkles, for decorating (optional)
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, running it up the two long sides of the pan and letting it extend past the rim by about 2 inches.
- Make the bars: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed just until blended, about 1 minute.
- Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared baking pan and spread it into an even layer. Bake just until the edges are starting to turn light golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle has moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. (Do not overbake!) Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Let cool completely. When fully cooled, remove the bars from the pan using the overhanging parchment paper.
- Make the frosting: Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, beating on low speed until fully combined, then repeat with remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, the vanilla, salt and food coloring, if using, and beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides halfway through, about 4 minutes. Add more milk if needed to thin out the mixture. Add lemon juice and vanilla to taste.
- Using a spatula, spread the frosting on top, then decorate with sprinkles, if using. Cut into 20 bars and serve.