Brush off that mixer because the holidays are here and the Christmas cookie baking season has begun! I just can't wait for the steady whirl of my KitchenAid mixing with the sounds of Perry Como singing holiday classics and the sweet smell of freshly baked cookies. Note to self, must make sure I have plenty of milk!
With so many delicious cookie recipes to choose from, our Taste of Home editors have put together this handy Christmas cookie guide that is sure to have your oven fired up in no time.
Gingerbread Star Tree
- 1-1/3 cups packed brown sugar
- 1-1/3 cups molasses
- 2 cups cold butter, cubed
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 8 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 4 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ROYAL ICING AND DECORATIONS:
- 7-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
- 6 tablespoons meringue powder, divided
- 10 tablespoons warm water, divided
- Edible glitter
- Candy of your choice
- Dark chocolate and white candy coating, melted
- Waxed paper
- Cookie cutters-round (2-1/2 inches, 2 inches and 1-1/2 inches) and star-shaped (3 inches, 2 inches and 1 inch)
- #101 petal pastry tip
- To create star templates: With a pencil and ruler, draw five-pointed stars on sheets of waxed paper, labeling each template with its dimensions. Draw an 8-1/2-in. star, 8-in. star, 7-1/2-in. star, 7-1/4-in. star, 6-3/4-in. star, 6-in. star and 4-1/2-in. star. Cut out with scissors and set aside.
- To make dough: In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring brown sugar and molasses just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; stir in butter until melted. Stir in eggs until blended. Combine the remaining dough ingredients; stir into brown sugar mixture. Divide dough into four portions.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion to 1/4-in. thickness. Using templates, cut one 8-1/2-in. star, two 8-in. stars, one 7-1/2-in. star, two 7-1/4-in. stars, one 6-3/4-in. star, two 6-in. stars and one 4-1/2-in. star. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- Cut two circles using a floured 2-1/2-in. round cookie cutter. Cut 12 circles using a floured 2-in. round cookie cutter. Cut two circles using a floured 1-1/2-in. round cookie cutter. Cut remaining dough using floured star-shaped cookie cutters. Reroll scraps. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 10-12 minutes or until set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- For one batch of icing: In a large bowl, combine 3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder and 5 tablespoons water; beat on low speed just until combined. Beat on high for 4-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Keep icing covered at all times with a damp cloth. If necessary, beat again on high speed to restore texture.
- To assemble: With icing and round cookies, make six large sandwich cookies and one small sandwich cookie. Let stand for 15 minutes or until set.
- Place the 8-1/2-in. star on a serving plate. Spread a small amount of icing onto center of star; top with an 8-in. star. Spread a small amount of icing onto center of star; top with a large sandwich cookie. Spread a small amount of icing onto sandwich cookie; top with remaining 8-in. star. Let stand for 15 minutes or until set.
- Repeat with remaining icing, sandwich cookies and stars, building tree using the largest stars and sandwich cookies first. After each star is added, let stand for 15 minutes or until set.
- To decorate: Prepare a second batch of icing. Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert #101 petal tip. Fill bag with icing. Decorate tree as desired with icing, edible glitter and candy. Decorate a 2-in. star cookie as desired; secure on the treetop with icing.
To decorate small star cookies: Dip cookies in melted candy coating; place on waxed paper and let stand until set. Sprinkle white cookies with edible glitter. Leave some cookies plain if desired. Gently place cookies onto tree branches and on the serving platter. Yield: 1 gingerbread tree and 3 dozen small star cookies.
Editor's Note: Meringue powder and edible glitter are available from Wilton Industries. Call 1-800/794-5866 or visit www.wilton.com.
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By Sarah James at tasteofhome.com