New Year's Eve Countdown Cookies

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Here's an easy way to add some festivity for children to your New Year's Eve~ Countdown Cookies!  I am certainly no master cookie baker or decorator but these are relatively simple {as far as shaped and decorated cookies go}.  I use a basic sugar cookie dough.  It's a great recipe to use when you will be decorating cookies with sprinkles or frosting since the dough isn't too sweet.  There are a plethora of recipes and tips out there for cookies, but I'll give you some of my own to add to them since I really suffer in the shaped cookie making department.

*When making your cookie dough, do not add all of the flour called for.  Wait and see how the dough balls up.  You may not need all the flour.  If your dough is too dry {too  much flour} the cookies will crumble.  Baking is affected by the humidity in the kitchen as well.  Just add a half cup at a time {already mixed with the baking powder} until the dough starts pulls together in a ball.
*Have cookie trays, sprinkles, cookie cutters and any other equipment you will be using ready to go before removing dough from refrigerator and beginning to roll.
*Work with half or a third of the dough at a time, leaving remainder of dough in the fridge.  Soft dough is your enemy when rolling and cutting cookies.
*Transfer cut cookies from work surface to prepared cookie sheet using a large metal spatula.  You can easily tear excess dough from around the shaped cookie after the spatula is carefully slid underneath of shape.
*Use powdered sugar on cookie cutters and spatula edges to 'flour', making removal of dough easy from cutter edges.
*Don't use leftover dough {from around the cut shapes} for more cookies.  Conserve space when doing initial cutting.
*Sprinkle cookies with sugar crystals once they are on the tray but before they are baked.  Don't worry about extra sugar crystals around the the edges.  Lightly press them into the cookies to keep in place while baking.
*Place cookie trays in freezer for 10 minutes before baking to help keep cut shapes while baking.

We save our small frappuccino and juice bottles to make festive drinking containers on such occasions as these.  Add party ribbon and curl.  The final touch is a festive straw in colors to match the occasion.

Another easy yet festive decoration is a 'clock' plate.  Any plastic plate {or inexpensive ceramic plate} will do.  Use a permanent marker to mark the numbers around the plate edge.  I found it worked best to start with 12, 6, 3, then 9 and fill in the remaining numbers.  The children will love snacking on these New Year's Eve Countdown Cookies as they wait to ring in the new year!

New Year's Eve Countdown Cookies

1 c unsalted butter, left at room temperature for 45~60 minutes
1 c white sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 c white flour
1 tsp baking powder
powdered sugar {for working with dough instead of flour}
tinted sugar crystals for decorating

Blend butter and sugar in stand mixer til grainy but smooth.  Scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg and vanilla.  Blend well, scraping sides and bottom of bowl again to incorporate all ingredients.

In separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder with a whisk.  Working with a half cup at a time, blend into creamed butter and sugar.  Once the dough starts to pull together into a ball, remove from bowl.  Working on lightly floured surface {with powdered sugar}  shape dough into a smooth disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour {dough should be firm but not too hard}.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare cookie sheets {I like to line with foil and spray with a nonstick spray}.  Roll cookies to 1/4" thickness.  Cut, using a bit of powdered sugar on cookie cutters to keep from sticking.  Transfer to prepared cookie sheets.  Place cut cookies, on cookie sheets, in freezer for 10 minutes before baking.  Bake in 350F for 8~10 minutes, until edges begin to brown.  Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.  Makes enough dough for about 2 dozen large {2"~3"} cookies.

I don't throw out the leftover but allow my younger children to use them for making their own sugar cookies.  They did all the rolling, shaping, cutting and sprinkling them selves and there were no worries about wasted dough or mistakes.  And a multitude of sprinkles hides any mistakes!

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