My long-time favorite cut-out cookie, with an easy-to-handle dough and lovely gingerbread flavor - with just a touch of chocolate.
Plus, how to host a cookie exchange, a favorite tradition at Christmas.
"Totally delicious!" ~ momof3
"This is by far [my] most requested recipe ..." ~ Brooklyn Chick
It’s a family tradition: the annual cookie exchange. My mother hosted one for many years. Afterward we would all swarm into the kitchen to sample the goodies. Her friends were good bakers and those cookies didn’t last long!
I started hosting my own cookie exchange some years ago. Now my friends count on this annual event to simplify their holiday entertaining and as a source of homemade food gifts for family and neighbors.
Think of a cookie exchange as “instant baking”. The premise is simple: each person bakes many of one kind of cookie, then swaps these for many different kinds made by someone else! Here’s how we do it.
Invite a dozen or so friends to bake twelve dozen cookies. This number may seem daunting (if so, try six or eight dozen) but usually requires only a couple of batches, especially if you encourage small cookies ideal for cookie trays. We also encourage each other to bake things that are 'delicious and festive' rather than 'delicious but every-day'.
Whether or not there’s a cookie exchange on your calendar this year, your family will love the delicate ginger-chocolate flavor of Frosty Christmas Trees.
They make a colorful addition to a cookie plate and are a favorite of grandparents and grandchildren alike.
This time of year, I make Christmas tree cut-outs with white icing and green sugar – very pretty. The base cookie is so good, however, that the same recipe can be used for other holidays. A few weeks back, this same recipe turned out blaze-orange pumpkins. (These cookies are too good to be used just at Christmas, see Cut-Out Spice Cookies!)
Many cut-out cookie doughs are just too fussy. But after chilling overnight, this dough rolls out very easily – so easily, in fact, that children can handle it with just a little help.
And of course, kids love to get in on the decorating process! If so, you might make extra icing in different colors. Place each color in a small zip-lock bag with a corner snipped. Have plenty of colored sugars, sprinkles and sparkles on hand.
FROSTY CHRISTMAS TREES
Bake: 1 hour
Makes 7 dozen small cookies
- 1 cup salted butter, softened
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup (155g) molasses
- 3-3/4 cup flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 470g
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ginger
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 3 cups (360g) powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 tablespoons water
COOKIES Cream butter, sugar, egg and molasses in a large mixing bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Separately, combine remaining dough ingredients, then mix until well blended. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut dough into three pieces, working with one at a time. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out with floured cookie cutter in shape of Christmas tree and transfer to cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining two pieces. Gather together scraps; roll and cut in similar fashion.
Bake 8 minutes until edges are lightly brown. Let cool completely.
ICING Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and water in a medium bowl and stir until smooth. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until icing is spoonable and flows easily from a spoon. Makes 1 cup. Will be fairly runny but will harden.
Apply a light coating of icing to each cookie, then sprinkle with green-colored sugar.
LATER NOTES These cookies really keep! They stay fresh-tasting for a couple of weeks. Even the icing stays attractive. After a few days, the color might bleed a little but the cookies themselves stay crisp and fresh. People really like these cookies, they have the flavor of gingerbread cookies, or spice cookies, but the pretty appearance of cut-out sugar cookies. Some times I use lemon or peppermint extract in the icing. It should taste like something more than sugar! Look for lots of baking tips here, Holiday Baking Tips from a Certifiable Cookie-Baking Fiend
More Cookie Recipes Perfect for Cookie Swaps
Menu Ideas for a Holiday Brunch
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