Sugar cookie crust:
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup butter at room temperature
2 Cups all purpose flour
8 Ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/4 Cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lemon zest divided
1/2 Cup sugar
For the bars:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8×8 or 9×9 inch square baking dish with foil and spray liberally with non stick cooking spray.
In bowl of stand mixer using paddle attachment, or large bowl with hand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 2 minutes.
Turn mixer to low and slowly add the flour (1/2 cup at a time) and mix just until dough comes together.
Press half of the dough into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly golden brown.
Cool completely before filling.
Store remaining sugar cookie dough in a bowl in the refrigerator until ready to use.
For the Filling:
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or medium bowl with a hand mixer beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. of the lemon zest until smooth and creamy.
Pour filling over cooled crust.
Top filling with the remaining sugar cookie dough by simply crumbling it evenly over the top.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, until cookie crumble is light golden in color.
Top with remaining lemon zest as desired.