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Too often we knock off cookies as quickly as possible. A pan of brownies. A tray of dollops of chocolate chip batter. Fast and furious. I know: a cookie pang requires speed.

Cookies can, and sometimes should, be made differently, with a more subtle attitude. Think of them as works of art, destined to bring resolute pleasure. But only after the proper time and staging. Icebox cookies provide an almost shocking hit of coolness and typically a very creamy texture bounded by a perfect crust. This example, from The Sprinkles Baking Book, is brimming with citrus flavors and is immensely enjoyable any time of the year. These cookies are the ideal coffee break delight, although I understand they are quite good even for breakfast.

Lemon-Lime Icebox Bars

Yield: 16 bars


For the crust:

  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest

For the filling:

  • 6 ounces (¾ cup) cream cheese, slightly softened
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


Make the Crust

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan, line the pan with two strips of parchment paper that fit the pan both vertically and horizontally, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides, and generously butter the parchment.

In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon and the zests until incorporated. Add the butter and pulse until the dough starts to come together but is still somewhat crumbly, 25pulses. Using your fingers, evenly press the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, then prick holes all over the dough with a fork or a wooden skewer. Bake until the crust is golden brown, 13 to 14 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the Filling

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream cheese, sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the lemon zest and juice, lime zest and juice, and the vanilla, and whip until combined, 1 minute.

Sprinkle the gelatin across the bottom of a small bowl, sprinkle with the cold water, and allow the gelatin to bloom for 5 minutes. Add the warm water and stir to dissolve the gelatin, making sure it’s totally dissolved. Add the gelatin and condensed milk to the cream cheese mixture and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes.

Spread the filling over the crust, cover the pan with plastic wrap, and chill until set, at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Uncover and lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment. Cut into 16 equal- size bars.

Source: The Sprinkles Baking Book by Candace Nelson [Grand Central Life and Style, 2016]