Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Very Valentine's: Pink Sugar Cookie Bars

I think the most memorable Valentine's Day I ever experienced was my junior year of high school.

I was single.  Painfully, miserably, angrily single.  Recently single, heartbroken in that life-shattering way that always hurts but hurts so much more when you're 16 and lacking perspective.

Boy, sounds like a Valentine's Day worth remembering, right?
Well, one of my best friends was also painfully, miserably, angrily recently single.

We held an Anti-Valentine's Day.
We wore black.
We decorated cupcakes with broken hearts.
We baked cookies.
We rented horror movies (I don't even like horror movies, but it seemed like the thing to do...).
We ate Chinese food.
We sent Anti-Valentine's Day E-Cards to our friends.
We (I kid you not) made a web page dedicated to our newly christened holiday.  It miraculously still exists out there in all of it's broken-linked glory.  We were a bit...melodramatic...it would seem.

Anyway, we had a blast.  We had such a great day.  It ended with us belting out Cher songs in her room ("Do you belieeeeeve in life after love..."), posing for ridiculous pictures which we would later have developed and that still live in a bin in my garage- and then came the best part...the knocking of pebbles on the window.

Two of our guy friends were standing on the street outside her house, pelting her second floor window with pebbles to get our attention.
They had a guitar.
They serenaded us from below.
Then they realized they could make the night even better and excitedly jumped in their truck with promises of returning shortly.

When they came back they brought with them sparkling cider, a bouquet of flowers, and a ring from a grocery store quarter machine.
She and I had a custody agreement for that ring for months after that.  :-)

I wasn't going to dig pictures out of the depths of the garage, but in the end I decided it was worth bundling up and digging through bins to share a bit of that day with you guys!

Anyway, when I think of Valentine's Day I don't necessarily think of flowers and jewelry and all of that jazz.  (Though I'd be remiss not to thank my delightful husband for providing those things for the better part of a decade now!).  I think of that wonderfully memorable Anti-Valentine's Day of 17 years ago and smile.

Anyway, these days life is much less exciting- I'm blissfully not single anymore and I thank my lucky stars that the melodrama of teenagehood is far behind me (my TWENTY YEAR reunion is only 4 years away- yikes!).  Valentine's Day is full of few grand gestures (dude, it's a joint bank account.  Please please please don't buy me expensive jewelry....) and lots of special small ones.  Champagne.
Always champagne.

I always try to make a fun Valentine's baked good with my daughter- over the last couple of years I've made swirly Valentine's Pinwheel Cookies, Pink Snickerdoodles (yum!),  Pink Marshmallows, and then of course there's that Old Fashioned Pink Popcorn that's so popular.

When lacking ideas for a Valentine's dessert grab the pink food coloring and call it a day.  :-)

Anyway, this year I went with Pink Sugar Cookie Bars.
Who doesn't love a good sugar cookie?
Plus I might have *ahem* eight containers of white frosting from which I've pilfered the Funfetti canisters with which they came that I really need to use up.

These bars are soft and yummy, with all of the goodness of a sugar cookie and the consistency of a bar cookie.  They're super easy to make since they don't require rolling the dough out or using cookie cutters.
Mix, bake, cool, frost.
That easy.
Perfect for enjoying with that glass of champagne in my pj's with my sweet husband on Valentine's Day.  :-)

Pink Sugar Cookie Bars

1 C unsalted butter at room temperature
2 C white sugar
6 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
Pink food coloring
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups prepared frosting
Sprinkles (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 10x15-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

2. Place butter and sugar into the work bowl of a large stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on medium-high speed until butter and sugar are light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Beat eggs into butter mixture one at a time, letting each egg blend in before adding the next. Beat in vanilla extract, almond extract, and food coloring.  Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together in a separate bowl. Gradually beat flour mixture into moist ingredients, blending each portion in before adding more. Press dough into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven until 
4. a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan.

5. Remove from pan and spread frosting over the top, add sprinkles if desired; cut into bars and serve.

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