Tuesday, November 24, 2015

12 Days of Cookies: Cut-out Cookie Tree

A bit ago, my friend Natasha of Houseful of Nicholes asked who wanted to participate in the 12 Days of Cookies, and inside I was like oh yes I do want to join in because how fun is this, but on-line I was like yeah, if you need someone I'll do it. Because I'm all casual like that!

Instantly, I knew what I was going to make: a Christmas Tree.

I did this quite a few years ago and thought it was really pretty cute and it looks harder to make than it is. And if you can make yummy cookies that impress people, well, why not?

Last time I made the cookies, I printed a star graphic and then enlarged it a few sizes and shrunk it a few sizes. I carefully cut out all the stars, placed them on the rolled out cut-out cookie dough, and used a knife to cut them out. It is truly how I planned to do it this time as well. But as luck would have it, on Friday I accidentally came across a holiday sale and I found a set of 10 star cookie cutters on sale for one whole dollar. Yep I snapped those cookie cutters up and thought the universe must be looking out for me! (though if you don't have a set, you try the print, shrink/enlarge, cut method too).

I told the kids what I was planning to do and instantly I had quite a few helpers - in my house, the kids love to roll out dough and decorate cookies. The mixing, baking, cooling part? That's not much fun so it gets left for me, which I don't mind at all!

So I mixed the best cut-out cookie dough I know. The recipe came from my friend Melodee and ever since she shared it with me, I've never used another! After mixing, I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge. This dough, I've found, works best when it's just slightly cold. If it's too cold, it cracks and if it's too warm it's too sticky. I find just under an hour in the fridge is perfect and if it has to stay in longer, I just let it sit at room temperature until it softens.

Anyway, I pulled it out of the fridge and had some kids very eager to roll it out! I handed them some dough, a rolling pin, and a stack of cookie cutters. Be careful cutting them out, I warned, we need two cookie of each size so you have to pay attention!

So we carefully cut them out, placed on the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and I was in charge of baking them. Which is good, because these cookies go from done to burned very quickly. I don't even leave them on the pan when I take them out of the oven - I move them to cooling racks right away!

Somehow, we managed to get two of all sizes (and three of one, but we'll call the extra a test cookie to make sure they were yummy!)

Now truthfully, this is where I stop for the day. After the cookies are cooled, I put them in a storage container and stop for the day. Yes, a two day cookie - not because they need to be, but because it's better for me to do it that way! If you don't have two days, do it in one. If you only have smaller chunks of time, split it up!

Day two of cookies is frosting day! Another thing the kids like to do. I whip up the frosting, fill bags, and let them go. We used a royal icing and outline the cookie and then fill it in. The kids do a great job at this because even if they don't, we just spread the frosting out a little bit with a spatula and call it a day!

Then it's time to let the cookies sit so the frosting gets hard. Alright, another confession, we never wait quite long enough because we are eager to move on to the next step, and it's okay! Because the next step is the most fun.

Starting withe largest size cookie, put a dollop of frosting in the middle, and stack on the cookie that is the same size. Turn it so that the points of the star are not right on top of each other. Put a dollop of frosting and place the next larges cookie on top. Dollop of frosting, cookie, lather, rinse, repeat, until all the cookies are placed.

Now step back. You have a gorgeous cut-out cookie Christmas tree. That isn't any more wok than traditional cut-out cookies. In fact, it's probably a bit of less work because you don't need to decorate them fancy - just top with green icing and you are good to go!

We also made one extra of the tiniest star and decorated it with sprinkles so it could be our tree topper! It looks lovely I think. And every one will be oohing and aahing over your cookies!

Cut-Out Cookies

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t baking soda
1 t cream of tartar
1/2 t salt

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in rest of ingredients.
Flatten into a disc and chill for at least one hour.
Bake 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees.

*You'll need to double the recipe to make a tree the size of mine

Royal Icing
2 pounds powdered sugar
5 Tablespoon meringue powder
1/2-3/4 cups water
2-3 teaspoon of vanilla
Food coloring (if desired)

Mix the vanilla into half the water.
Put the sugar and meringue powder into a mixing bowl and mix it at low speed.
Slowly add the water/vanilla mix.
Then add as much of the water as you need to get the frosting to a honey-like consistency.
Add food coloring (if desired).
Continue to mix for a few minutes, until it can form soft peaks.

I find this is a bit thinner than other recipes, but I like it that way much better! I even sometimes add a bit more water to thin it out just a bit more.

Bake. Frost. Eat. Enjoy =)


  1. This is so cute! Thank you so much for participating, and I now think that I need to go and buy these cookie cutters so that we can do this as a homeschool project. And there are more than enough cookies for everyone to share!

    1. Yes! Lots of fun for everyone! =)

  2. I am envious of those cookie cutters!!! The tree looks awesome.

    1. I know! I still can't believe we stumbled on them like that!

  3. Super cute! I need those cookie cutters!

    1. You can borrow them anytime! =)


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)