They say presentation is everything -- and while it's not enough to keep our hands out of the cookie jar, it sure does make for a extra-special sugar rush. These sweet stacks are perfect to make with kids or serve at an elegant fete.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup dark unsulfured molasses
2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
Cream Cheese Frosting
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, then molasses, spices, baking soda, and salt. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour. Divide dough into quarters; shape into disks. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours (up to 2 days).
2. Preheat oven to 375. Transfer one disk of dough at a time to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes using a set of 11 fluted round cookie cutters in graduated sizes ( 3/4 inch to 3 1/2 inches). You will use each cutter once for every tree. Using a 1 1/4-inch star cutter, cut out 10 stars. Arrange cookies by size on parchment-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes.
3. Bake until firm, about 6 minutes for small cookies and 10 minutes for large. Let cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely.
4. Assemble trees: Put frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip (such as Ateco #12). Pipe a dime-size dot of frosting in center of second-largest cookie; sandwich with largest cookie. Repeat in descending pairs with larger cookies on top to make 5 sandwiches. Pipe a scalloped 1/4-inch-thick border of frosting on top of larger cookie of largest sandwich. Top with the second-largest sandwich, larger cookie up, and repeat to make a tree of 5 sandwiches. Top with frosting, then smallest cookie, then more frosting and a star (standing upright). Cookie trees can be refrigerated up to 6 hours (they will soften). Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.
More from Martha Stewart:
Quick, One-Pot Meal Ideas To Feed the Whole Family
20 Classic Comfort Food Recipes from Martha Stewart
36 Dinners You Can Make in Just 15 Minutes!
42 Slow-Cooker Recipes Worth the Wait
Keep your piping bags at the ready -- we're just getting started.