Girly Evergreen Trees
Why I love these girly evergreen cookies
Sugar sequins look just like ornaments when sprinkled on icing "garland". They land in a perfectly random order. Some flat, some on end and some in bunches. It's carefree, fun and totally my favorite part of this project. Just mix sugar sequins with white nonpareils and edible silvers stars and in one simple step you have girly evergreen trees!
Tips, techniques + takeaways
I wanted these cookies to be white, but I didn't want them to look flat or boring or (egads) both. So I split the tree into three sections. I flooded the top and bottom first. Let them dry. And then came back to do the middles. I like how it gave these girly evergreen trees some depth and texture while providing a white canvas for vibrant and playful garland.
Gingerbread Cutout Cookies
Makes about 24 medium large cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon all-spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5/8 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 large free-range egg
1/3 cup mild or regular molasses
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. TIP: scoop flour and level with the back side of a knife.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in egg, scraping sides of bowl between additions.
Add molasses and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Dough should be tender (not dry or crumbly) but not sticky. If sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until dough is not tacky to the touch. If dry, add molasses one tablespoon at a time until dough starts pull together.
Roll dough between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper to desired thickness. TIP: wood dowels or rolling pin rings make this easy!
Chill rolled dough for about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350º
Cut desired shapes and transfer to parchment lined baking sheets. Chill shapes until ready to bake.
Bake until edges just start to brown. 8 minutes for medium cookies 10 minutes for large cookies. Be careful not to over bake. Cookies may become dry if over baked.
Cool for 5 minutes on pans then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Jes Best Royal Icing
Makes enough to decorate 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size
970 g [2 lb bag] confectioners' sugar, no need to sift
80g [or 8-10 tablespoons] meringue powder (CK or Henry & Henry)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar (to keep icing bright white)
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons water
Food coloring (optional)
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix sugar, meringue powder and cream of tartar on low for just a bit to incorporate evenly.
Slowly add 1/2 cup water while mixing at a low speed. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until sugar is just wet.
Scrape sides of the mixing bowl. Increase speed one notch (#2 on Kitchenaid stand mixer). Mix for five minutes. When finished icing should have a matte (not glossy) finish and hold it's shape on the paddle when pulled up/out of the bowl.
Separate into clean, oil-free containers and tint with gel food coloring.
This recipe yields "stiff" consistency for piping details. Add water as needed to achieve flooding consistency.
Keep covered tightly and store for up to a week in a cool dry place or 10 days in the refrigerator. Mix well when ready to use.