How do you feel about the grocery store bakery counter? I remember as a child making sure we always went past the bakery case every time my mom took me to our local Albertson’s. Sometimes I’d get lucky, and she’d buy me a tigertail doughnut, which might be one of the best things on Earth. But even if I didn’t get to take something home, we almost always got a free cookie from the lady behind the counter. They kept a stock of giveaways, probably to keep obnoxious kids quiet while in the store. I guess it worked because I always walked away happy.
These days, I’m both thrilled and a tiny bit disgusted every time I walk through the bakery section. The bread and pastries look so lovely all golden and crusty and neatly lined up. The single slices of cake call to me. Even the elaborately decorated cakes and cupcakes with mounds of sugary frosting are alluring with their bright colors like one of those deep sea lure fish. And yet, half the time, when I get something from the grocery store bakery the actual experience leaves me disappointed. Those ingredient lists are impossibly long for something as simple as a chocolate chip cookie or a slice of white cake.
This is where learning to bake becomes an asset. You don’t have to play roulette with the grocery store bakery or pay impossibly high prices at a more upscale place. You control the ingredients, so you know it’s going to taste amazing. And the time it takes is time well spent, in my opinion.
Make stuff yourself, kids. I’ll never stop saying it. It’s cheaper, tastes better, and is ridiculously fun.
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 5 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350 and cover a half sheet pan or a jelly roll pan with foil, then spray lightly. I used a 17x12 inch pan. You could use a smaller pan, but I wouldn't use anything larger.
- In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until smooth and fluffy.
- Next, mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
- Turn your mixer to its lowest setting and slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Spread your cookie dough as evenly as possible in your pan. It will be quite sticky. I tried a couple different tools, but ultimately, the best thing was clean hands.
- Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden. Cool completely.
- Beat together butter and powdered sugar with your electric mixer adding the powdered sugar gradually. It will be a very stiff mixture.
- Mix in the vanilla extract then add the milk slowly to thin it out. You may need a little more or a little less. You want a very thick frosting that will be more smashable than spreadable. Crank the speed up for about 30 seconds to make sure everything is smooth and fluffy.
- Carefully spread your frosting over your cooled cookie bars, covering the entire surface as evenly as possible.
- Scatter your sprinkles across your frosting and gently press to sprinkles down into the frosting to hold them in place. I do this with a wax paper covered hand.
- Slice into bars of the desired size. You could definitely make smaller servings to feed a larger crowd if you need to. Everyone will still be happy.
- Store in an airtight container.
- If you plan to use liquid food coloring to color your frosting, you may want to hold off on some of the milk.