These snowy evergreen trees were inspired by the Martha by Mail evergreen cookie cutters and the cute little booklet that accompanies them. I wasn't into baking when Martha was mailing exclusive copper cookie cutters to kitchens all over the country. So I don't have any of her original copper cutters. But I am resourceful and determined.
I set out to learn more about the famous (and now highly collectible) copper gems. It turns out, Martha's copper cookie cutters were a collaboration with Michael Bonne, a world renowned coppersmith. David Pantoja tells us all about their partnership on his awesome blog Good Things by David. Lucky for me, Michael was reproducing some of his original Martha by Mail designs and selling them on Etsy when I started this blog.* So far I've been able to invest in two of the 5 evergreen cutters. These snowy evergreen trees are made with one of them! I just love the droopy branches, so I covered them with royal icing snow!
Why I love these snowy evergreen cookies
This is the first time I've decorated gingerbread cutouts for Christmas. My Grandmother's Christmas cookie recipe has always been my "go to" for the holidays. I chose gingerbread for these snowy evergreen trees because I wanted the contrast between the golden brown cookie and the bright white royal icing. I knew gingerbread would give me the look I was after, but I didn't expect to fall in love with the flavor. I've had gingerbread cookies about a million times, but when decorated (in December) with royal icing and silver dragées these cookies taste like Christmas!
Tips, techniques + takeaways
These are quick and easy! Using a #4 Ateco piping tip and royal icing thinned to a 14-16 count consistency, outline and flood the trees in 3 sections. Leaving space between each for the "evergreen" branches. Let the royal icing "snow" dry for several hours or overnight. When the icing is dry to the touch, use light green tinted icing to fill in the gaps between the snowy boughs. Cover the green icing completely (while wet) with green "jimmie" style sprinkles. It's okay if they poke out and look like pine needles. *wink*
I used a #2 Ateco tip and white royal icing to secure five silver dragées to each tree. I think they look like vintage glass ornaments hanging from the branches of my snowy evergreen trees!
*Micheal Bonne’s Etsy store is currently closed while he catches up on orders (and life).
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.