If it is a custom in your house to leave a plate of cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, consider going the extra mile this year by baking up a batch of festive sugar cookie trees.
Now you’re probably saying to yourself that cookies in the shape of a Christmas tree are nothing new. But these are not just the usual flat cookies cut from a single tree-shaped cutter. They are little sculptures made of three different-sized cookies that achieve their height via layers of a decadent butter cream.
The recipe comes from our friend Catherine McCord, founder of the kid-friendly website Weelicious, where you’ll find other holiday baking and cooking solutions.
Sugar Cookie Trees
- 3 cups unbleached organic all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Icing:
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature
- 1 lb. confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp whole milk or cream
- Dye-free food coloring
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
- In a separate bowl using electric beaters or in a standing mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar for 3 minutes on medium to high speed until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated.
- Turn the speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until a dough forms.
- Place the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, parchment paper, or wax paper and flatten into a round shaped disk.
- Wrap the dough disk and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least thirty minutes to overnight.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Let dough sit for about 10 minutes or until soft enough to roll out.
- Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until 1/4 thick and even.
- Use different-sized round cookie cutters to cut out circles. You’ll need a small, medium, and large circle for each tree.
- Using a spatula, transfer the cut-outs onto a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes rotating halfway through until edges turn golden.
- Cool cookies on a rack.
- Meanwhile make the icing. In the bowl of a standing mixer or in a bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter for 4-5 minutes or until thick and creamy.
- With the mixer continuing to beat, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated.
- Add in the vanilla, milk or cream, and food color until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. Add more milk or powdered sugar if needed to achieve desired consistency.
- Place the buttercream in a piping bag with star tip and pipe a thick layer of cream on largest cookie in a circular pattern. Top with medium-sized circle cookie and pipe another layer or cream in a circular pattern and finally top with smallest cookie. Pipe a circular pattern and end with a tip to resemble the top of a Christmas tree.
- Immediately add sprinkles so they will adhere.