Red Velvet Sugar Cookie Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

Time: 15 minutes prep + 20 minutes cooking + time to cool and frost
Yield: One 9x13 pan
Recipe lightly adapted from The Recipe Critic

Red Velvet Bars:
1 C butter, softened
1 1/2 C sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 T red food coloring (an entire 1 ounce jar)
3 1/2 C flour
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
dash salt
white sugar crystals (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Place 1 cup softened butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar into your stand mixer or medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until the two are light and fluffy. Should take about 2 minutes. 
3. Add two eggs and mix for an additional 1 minute. 
4. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 tablespoons (an entire 1 ounce bottle) of red food coloring. Mix well to combine.
5. In a separate bowl place 3 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder. 
6. Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder into the dry ingredients. Stir it well to combine and add it to the red mixture. 
7. Line a 9x13 pan with tin foil and spray it with cooking spray. The tin foil will make it easy to get these beautiful bars out of the pan. 
8. Press the dough into the pan and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the bars to cool completely. 
9. To make the frosting, place 2 packages softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup softened butter into your stand mixer or medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat until well combined. Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix until smooth and glossy. 
10. Scoop the frosting onto your cooled cookie bars and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle it all with some white sugar crystals if you like. Dig in right away, or place the bars in the fridge for about 30 minutes. The bars (and frosting) will be easy to cut if they have had a chance to chill a bit. 

Enjoy! 

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