Sunday, December 15, 2013

3D Cookie Christmas Tree

When I was a little girl my mom used to make this Christmas tree tower. I don't remember it but my older sister does. My mom said that she and her mother used to teach classes how to make these. I had never seen one in person but after my older sister described it over the phone, it sounded pretty simple. The one that my mom used to make had a thin candle as the dowel that held the tree together. She would light the candle and use it as a centerpiece.

For the recipe you need star cookie cutters of different sizes but I just free handed it with a pairing knife on my cookie dough. I cut out several different sizes and then stacked them from largest to smallest. You'll want to also make quarter sized mini cookies to place in between each cookie to keep them from sticking and and ruining the pretty frosting. You can use a soda lid as your cookie cutter.

Any sugar cookie recipe will work but unlike normal sugar cookies you don't want these to be soft or they will crumble and your tree will fall apart. Avoid recipes with softeners such as cream, sour cream or cream cheese. I baked mine an extra few minutes and left them out a few hours so they were harder (but not too hard, still a little soft).

You will also want to take something small like a marker lid and poke a hole in the center of each of  your cookies so that you can stack them on a dowel. A great dowel to use is a chopstick. A prettier dowel would of course be a very thin candle that is the same width from top to bottom.

Sixlets make perfect little candy ornaments or on the baking isle where the cake decorating section is you can find candy colored balls. I was fortunate to have a bag of mini gummy stars in my pantry so I I used a yellow one as the star on top of the tree. Use this cute tree as your dinner centerpiece and for desert the kids will have fun removing these and dipping them in milk or hot chocolate.

There is plenty of dough so I recommend also making my candy cane twists with the extra dough. Check out that recipe here:

3D Cookie Christmas Tree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Butter Cream Frosting
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used raspberry extract instead)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk or whipping cream
  • 2-3 drops of green food coloring

  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 drops green food coloring 
  • candy for ornaments

In a large bowl, cream sugar, powdered sugar, and butter until light and fluffy. Add oil, vanilla, almond extract and eggs.; mix well. Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt until well blended. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours (I placed mine in the freezer for an hour instead). You need very cold dough for the stars to hold shape in the oven.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out cookie dough on a floured surface. Begin cutting different sizes of stars. You can make stencils on the computer and cut out on card stock. Then use the card stock stencils and place them on your dough. Use a small pairing knife to cut around the stars. Lift the cut stars and place them on a cookie sheet. 8-12 stars should be enough. I made a few extra just in case some of them broke. Using a soda lid or any lid smaller than a milk cap, cut out about 8-12 circles. Place on cookie sheets and then place cookies in freezer for 5 minutes before placing in the oven. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allow to cool.

For frosting, in a medium bowl mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency. Add food coloring and mix well.

For topping, in a small bowl mix coconut and food coloring. Stir with spoon pressing down for about 10 minutes until coconut is green. (It takes a while for the coconut to mix with the food coloring. Do not add more food coloring thinking you don't have enough. 2 drops is plenty it just takes time. )

After cookies have cooled take a small marker lid and carefully pierce holes in the center of stars and round cookies. Frost cookies with green frosting while still on cookie sheets. Sprinkle coconut over tops and begin stacking cookies from largest stars to smallest stars on a pretty platter. Place a round cookie in between each star. Use a chopstick or thin candle as your dowel to place cookies on through center of holes. The dowel will keep your tree from tipping over. Decorate with candy ornaments and light candle for ambiance. Enjoy!

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