Lemon Sugar Cookie Bars with Almond Russian Buttercream

Cookie bars adapted from: Butternut Bakery for Rodelle

Buttercream adapted from: Sasha Cakes Chicago for Cupcake Project

Yield: 16-ish bars, depending on how you cut ‘em


Cookie Bars:

  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup (66g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup + 7 Tbsp (173g) all-purpose flour


  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 10 Tbsp (7oz or 198g) sweetened condensed milk, room temperature
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • Color Kitchen Foods Powdered Food Colouring


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8" x 8" metal baking pan.
  2. Combine lemon zest and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using your fingers, rub together until sugar turns yellow and you smell that lemony goodness.
  3. Connect paddle attachment, then add butter to bowl. Beat until fluffy and well mixed.
  4. Beat in lemon juice, egg, vanilla paste, and baking powder.
  5. Add flour, then mix again on low just until incorporated, scraping down bowl as necessary.
    NOTE: The dough will sorta look like mashed potatoes, and it will be rather sticky.
  6. Using an offset spatula, spread cookie dough into prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until set and lightly golden at the edges.
  8. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Once bars are totally cool, turn out onto a plate or other serving dish.
  9. Now it’s frosting time! In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip butter until it is very light and fluffy and has tripled in volume, 6–8 minutes. Scrape down bowl as necessary.
  10. With mixer running on medium speed, add a third of sweetened condensed milk and all of almond extract. Whip for about 10 seconds. Stop and scrape down bowl. Repeat twice more with remaining two-thirds of sweetened condensed milk, being careful not to overmix.
    NOTE: If you’re going to make your frosting all one colour, you can add the Color Kitchen Foods powdered food colouring during this step.
  11. If you want to make multiple hues or shades of frosting, divide your frosting into small bowls. Then mix the desired powdered food colouring into buttercream by hand.
    NOTE: For our frosting, we wanted light yellow, bright yellow, lavender, and deep purple, so we divided our buttercream into four bowls. We then added the powdered food colouring as follows:
    💛 light yellow: 1/3 of yellow packet
    💛 bright yellow: 2/3 of yellow packet
    💜 lavender: 1/3 of pink packet + 1/3 of blue packet
    💜 deep purple: 2/3 of pink packet + 2/3 of blue packet 
  12. Using piping bags and your favourite tips or an offset spatula, decorate cookie bars with buttercream however you like!

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