LE FESTE – CELEBRATIONS
Christmas is not Christmas without the cookies. It’s not just a box of sweet treats or even having something to leave for Santa. It’s about the time spent in the kitchen, the aromas wafting through the house, and the people joining you to roll out dough, slap on icing, and make it rain sprinkles. My family likes to gather the children for cookie decorating parties. Even the teens – shh, don’t tell their friends – get in on the act and even smile while turning gingerbread women into their artistic rendition of their parents.
It’s always been a dream of mine to make one of these Christmas cookie trees. But I found the task daunting and the supplies costly, so I never got around to it. Recently, however, I happened upon the graduating star cookie cutters, and they were 60 percent off to boot (at the local Michael’s). I decided this was the year. My time had come. And I ended up making it more than once this season. It’s not nearly as hard as I had imagined.
Here’s how to make a Christmas cookie tree:
- Gather materials. You need graduating cookie cutters (preferably of a star, but snowflakes have worked, too), a plate or tray to serve as your base, your favorite sugar cookie dough, cookie icing, sprinkles, and any other adornments you want to include. (I made the dough and icing from scratch, but you could just as easily by sugar cookie dough and icing at your local supermarket – no judgment here!)
- Cut out the cookies. Roll out your dough. Use plenty of flour to avoid sticking. And cut out the cookies. You will need at least two of each sized cookie. However, you can use only one of the largest cookies and two of the others and make it a narrower tree as I did in the photo above. I will say that my second attempt at a tree with at least two of each size was fuller and more attractive. (It’s the one in the cellophane and was on display at a cookie exchange party, where it won the prize for best looking.)
- Bake the cookies. Bake these cookies a little longer than you normally would. It will help your tree be more structurally sound. Make sure you cool your cookies (preferably on a wire rack) and that they are completely cooled before moving forward.
- Become a master builder. I liken this project to Legos for grown ups. Use the icing as glue. Put some on the bottom of your plate and then stack your largest star on top of it. Completely ice the star and top it with the next star. Add sprinkles to the visible edges before the icing dries. The stars should gradually get smaller as you move up the tree, and you should place them one on top of the other to make the star’s corners look like leaves. Keep going until you reach the top of the cookie tree. Add a topper. I used a cinnamon button. But you could use a 3-D paper star or some other type of candy that makes a statement.