Thanksgiving has passed, so it is officially time to begin preparing for Christmas! Hopefully the tree is already up, Christmas music has been playing in the house, and wishlists are finished. Now it is time to bake and decorate sugar cookies, so gather your siblings and prepare for holiday cheer! Use this no-fail recipe to make regular sugar cookies or to create a sugar cookie Christmas tree.
Begin by gathering these ingredients:
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Once the ingredients are prepared, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set the flour mixture aside, and in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together using an electric mixer on high speed until it’s completely smooth and creamy. This should take at least three minutes. Then add the egg and vanilla, and beat on high speed for about one minute or until combined.
Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix on low using the electric mixer until combined. The dough will be soft, but if it seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add an extra tablespoon of flour. Then divide the dough into two equal parts and wrap each ball in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Refrigerate the dough for at least one to two hours and up to two days.
Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or 175 degrees Celsius). Then line two or three large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out one of the balls of dough onto a lightly floured work surface until it is about a quarter-inch thick.
To make the Christmas tree, cut out the number of stars necessary to make the desired size tree. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting it out until all of it is used. Repeat this with the second piece of dough.
For a simple tree, three large stars, three medium stars, and three small stars will be just fine, and there will be plenty of dough left over for a second tree or just some more cookies! If a star-shaped cookie cutters is unavailable, stars can be can draw on pieces of paper and used when cutting out the cookies. In this case the stars can be in as many sizes as desired, or online templates can be printed out and used. I recommend printing out multiple copies of the same star and then cutting them smaller and smaller each time. Some templates can be found below.
Arrange the cookies on the baking sheets three inches apart, and bake them for eleven to twelve minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about five minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Use your favorite icing to decorate the cookies. If you prefer cookies without icing, a bit in the center of each cookie should suffice to keep them together when stacked. If you prefer cookies with icing, go all out! Before the icing sets, stack the sugar cookies, starting with the largest ones on the bottom and working up to the smallest ones on top. Position each new cookie slightly rotated. Add a small sugar cookie with yellow frosting as a star on top if desired.
This sugar cookie Christmas tree will make a beautiful centerpiece, a great treat to bring along to holiday gatherings, or a lovely present. These cookies will stay soft for about five days when covered tightly at room temperature, or for up to ten days when covered and refrigerated. Enjoy!
McKenney, Sally. “The Best Sugar Cookies”. Sally’s Baking Addiction, November 27, 2017 https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/best-sugar-cookies/.
Photo Credit: https://preppykitchen.com/cookie-tree/