Every time the holiday season rolls around, I’m immediately inspired to fill the house with the smell of sugar cookies and other goodies. I love baking and decorating cookies because it gives me a moment of silence to focus on creating something stunning. It’s a special gift you can give to friends who have a sweet tooth or if you just want to amaze people. BUT this would also be a fun activity to do with friends and family!
These cookies, believe it or not, are not hard to make. They just need some time to come altogether and you have to have an eye for consistency. Let’s get started!
What you’ll need:
- Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter (I also had a scalloped circle cookie cutter I used to make Wreaths)
- Mini Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter or Paring Knife
- Festive Food Coloring (Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, Brown)
- #3 Wilton Tip
- Small Thin Paintbrush
- Thin String or Ribbon
- Candy Canes
You can use your favorite sugar cookie recipe or even pre-made cookie dough. If you do use pre-made, add flour into the dough so it won’t spread too far in the oven.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 F
Roll out the dough – It helps if you freeze the dough for 15 minutes or refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Soft and sticky dough is always hard to work with and transfer around. Cut out your Christmas Trees and transfer them to a board that will easily fit into the fridge or freezer (but don’t put them away yet). This will help them keep their shape when they bake.
Cut out windows – If you don’t have a tiny Christmas Tree cookie cutter, just cut a triangle with a paring knife like I did. Cut a triangle leaving about 3/4 inch of space from the sides. Feel free to skip this step if you don’t want the window effect (or if your oven sucks like mine and doesn’t melt properly). I also cut Wreath-shaped cookies because the decorations would be perfect for them too. Refrigerate again for another 15 minutes for a smooth transition to the baking sheet.
Sprinkle the candy canes into the windows – Make sure there will be enough to spread out completely and touch the walls, don’t go overboard either or they won’t melt altogether.
Bake for 11-12 minutes and let them cool – Make sure the candied centers are hard before you remove them from your sheet.
Royal icing can be very tricky, especially for this recipe when we’re relying on the consistency for the best results so take your time when making it! A good thing to know about royal icing is that there are 3 consistencies: flood, medium, and stiff. We want a medium consistency for the brushed tree part. If you were to run your brush through the icing, it will hold but will smooth itself out ever so slightly. Here’s an outline for what you’ll need in which consistency:
Flood – Brown Christmas Tree trunk
Medium – Green Christmas Tree leaves, Christmas light bulbs and “star”
Stiff – Dark Green Christmas lights string
Ingredients (makes icing for 2 dozen cookies):
- 4 cups Confectioners Sugar
- 5 tablespoon Meringue Powder
- 1/3 cup Water
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
- a pinch of Salt
Instructions for royal icing:
1. Sift the powdered sugar and put into a mixing bowl
2. Add meringue powder and salt
3. Whisk on low until combined
4. Add water SLOWLY. As they say, you can always add more but never take back. Add water until you get that medium consistency we’re talking about. Take some out and test it with your brush. Once you have it, mix on medium high speed for at least 5 minutes. This let’s the meringue powder incorporate into the icing that gives us the whipped texture we want for easy piping.
Put icing into piping or sandwich bags – I used a #3 Wilton tip for piping the Christmas trees, the rest I put into sandwich bags since they don’t need as much control and the icing amount for the Christmas tree lights are so small.
Make brushstrokes down – Carefully brush the humps down still leaving the waves in tact. If it’s too thick and won’t give, dip your brush into some water or a damp napkin to help it move smoothly. Remove any excess water from the brush. Repeat the steps until your whole tree is covered. Optional, pipe icing on the edges once dried for more effect (or to cover bumpy lines).
Add the rest of the decorations – and you’re done! I piped the string lights across three times as if it was wrapped around the tree. Then dotting the lights on, alternating colors. Pipe on the trunk and star, smoothing it out with a toothpick to make perfect lines. Lastly, pull your string or ribbon through the holes you made and knot it.
The first two or three cookies will be trial and error, but these cookies are really easy to make. They make cute gifts for any age and can be hung up just like any other ornament on your Christmas Tree.