It’s hard to take your eyes off the gorgeous tree made of gingerbread cookies. Not only is this gingerbread tree a fun holiday project to try your hand at, it’s also wonderful as a centerpiece or to gift to friends. So, put aside your generic gingerbread house kit this year — and follow our step-by-step instructions:
1. You’ll need a set of graduated star cutters. We used the President’s Choice cookie tree kit (available at select Loblaws and Superstores), but can also be purchased online through Wiltons or Golda’s Kitchen.
2. Prep your cookie dough. I recommend making double batches of solid and sturdy cookies, such as this sugar cookie or gingerbread. I prefer rolling out my dough to 1/4-in. thick to make them even more sturdy, but this may increase your bake time.
3. Use graduated cookie cutters and cut out two of each size. Using two cookies of each size gives you a taller and leaner tree. Cut out an extra cookie with the smallest star cutter to use as your tree topper. You may need to re-roll your dough and chill multiple times.
4. Bake according to directions. Do not crowd your baking pan. Bake cookies together based on size. For example, you can bake 6 of the smaller stars together on one sheet because they will probably bake in the same time. However, bake the largest size on its own. This is because the bake time will be longer on the larger sizes. Add 1 (incremental) min bake time to your larger cookies if they don’t seem to be baked through in the recommended time. But don’t burn your cookies!
5. Often, cookies will ‘puff’ as they bake, especially cookies with baking soda (such as the gingerbread), and then won’t sit on top of each other as neatly. So, it is important that the top of the cookies be as flat as possible. To combat any puff, have an extra baking sheet at the ready. When a tray of cookies comes out of the oven, immediately place your extra baking sheet over the cookies. Use an oven mitt to press down lightly on the cookies. Check your cookies, and repeat if the tops are not flat enough. This step is important as cookies won’t flatten once cooled.
6. Cool cookies on a rack. Prepare your royal icing. When cookies are cool, pipe a thin line of royal icing around the border of each cookie. Press a silver dragee into each star point while icing is still wet. Let stand until royal icing is firm.
7. For tree topper, use a small star. Brush the inside of royal icing border with more royal icing, or corn syrup. Sprinkle with coarse pink sugar. Let stand until dry.
8. When icing is dry, stack cookies into a tree shape on a cake stand. Attach tree topper to cookies using more royal icing. Sprinkle tree with more coarse sugar.
Tip: If one of your cookies accidentally cracks, use some royal icing to “glue” it back together. It won’t affect the tree as it lays flat against the other pieces.