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Back-to-School Cookie Puzzle

LOOKING for a playful way to sweeten a student's day? CT's kitchen staff pieced together a fittingly fun solution! With Stephanie's kid-pleasing cookie recipe, they assembled an actual puzzle complete with removable school, hand, apple and letter shapes. Since the clever confection is entirely edible, it's perfect to serve at a back-to-school party...to a child's classmates...or as a surprise anytime at all!
  • Total Time
    Prep: 45 min. Bake: 15 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    2 cookie puzzles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Red, blue and green food coloring
  • Black paste food coloring
  • Yellow colored sugar
  • 2 covered boards (15 inches x 12 inches each)
  • Cookie cutters--apple, schoolhouse, hand and letters "A", "B" and "C" (or shapes of your choice)
  • Small new paintbrushes

Directions

  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate dough for several hours, overnight or until dough is easy to handle.
  • On a parchment-lined surface, roll out half of the dough into a 13x11-in. rectangle. With cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes. Remove shapes and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough. Set the two large rectangle pieces aside.
  • Separate the remaining eggs, placing 1 yolk each in 3 small bowls. Tint one red, one blue and one green.
  • With an appropriate-size paintbrush and black food coloring, outline the school roof, windows and door and the apple leaf and stem. Paint the cookie cutouts with tinted yolks to resemble the cookies shown in the photo or as desired.
  • Bake cutouts at 350° for 8-9 minutes or until edges are golden. Immediately recut the shapes. If cookies cool too quickly, return to oven until softened. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Brush over the 2 large rectangular puzzles. (Discard any remaining egg white.) Sprinkle with yellow colored sugar. Transfer puzzles with parchment to baking sheets.
  • Bake for 12-13 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Immediately recut shapes inside puzzles. Cool completely before removing from paper. Place each puzzle on a covered board. Fit cookie cutouts inside puzzles.
Crafter thoughts: The decorated cutouts can make appealing treats even without the puzzle. or Adapt this idea for a birthday event by picking cookie cutters that coordinate with the party's theme.
Nutrition Facts
1 piece: 256 calories, 11g fat (6g saturated fat), 88mg cholesterol, 270mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate (20g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.
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