Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars

Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars - made February 8, 2014 from The Recipe Critic
Get that bottle of red food coloring back out for this recipe. It's red velvet time again. While I do like red velvet in most forms, I'm a little picky on which type of red velvet recipes to try. There are some that barely contain any chocolate and have more red food coloring than cocoa. I've learned to pass on those because those are barely chocolate flavored and seem more like food dyed red than real red velvet. A good red velvet should actually have a chocolate taste. If it doesn't, it's just not good red velvet (duh). This is where I think red velvet gets a bad rap because anything can be colored red and called red velvet but if it's not going to taste like chocolate, what's the point?
So what's my criteria for what could potentially be good red velvet? For one thing, depending on the proportion of the other ingredients, it should have a reasonable amount of cocoa. By reasonable, I don't mean 2 teaspoons for an entire 9 x 13 cake. The minimum I look for is 1/4 cup and even then, I make sure to use a good dark cocoa for maximum chocolate flavor.
I'm not usually big on sugar cookie bars but I was captivated by the photos on pinterest that someone had pinned from The Recipe Critic. And one picture is usually all it takes to get me to pin something and go back to it later to try. This is super easy to make and came out pretty well. You almost have to tell people it's a sugar cookie bar because at first glance it'll look like a dry brownie or a dense cake and might be wrongly judged as such. It's not "fudgy" like a brownie but it's moist for a bar cookie and a sugar cookie. I really liked this bar cookie for its taste and texture. Just try not to think of how much red dye #5 is in it and you'll be fine.
To make it even fancier for Valentine's Day, you can also sprinkle it with red and/or pink sprinkles or, like The Recipe Critic, make it more elegantly classy with white sugar pearls (check out how hers look by clicking on the recipe title above). I left mine unadorned because I was taking it to work and figured, as adults, my coworkers didn't need sprinkles on their baked goods. Plus, with the cream cheese frosting, I didn't know how long it would be before the colored sugar crystals melted into the frosting and became more like a canvas of paints running together than sugar sprinkles glittering on top of the bar cookie. Not that my coworkers seemed to have minded one way or the other since the 9 x 13 pan's worth of bar cookies disappeared before the end of the morning - always a good sign.
3⅓ cups flour
¼ cup unsweet­ened cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bak­ing pow­der
1 cup butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons (one 1-ounce bottle) red food coloring

Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8 Oz cream cheese, softened
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream together 1 cup butter softened and sugar until light and creamy. About 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, and food coloring until combined.
  4. Add the flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Press into the bottom of the 9×13 inch pan. Bake for about 20 minutes until the edges start to pull away from the sides and a toothpick entered into the center comes out clean. Allow to completely cool before frosting.
  5. To make the cream cheese frosting, Beat together the cream cheese and butter. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat together until smooth. Frost the top of the bars. Cut into squares and serve.

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