Have I mentioned how much I love baking? Probably a thousand times…I just do though. It is a great way to spend time together, the house smells wonderful afterwards and especially at Christmas time there is something slightly magical about it. Maybe the shapes…stars, trees, snow flakes…love, love love it!
Anyway, enough of my blabber, yesterday’s advent “togetherness” activity in our house was making a Cookie Christmas Tree. By the time we had gotten back from school, made the dough, left it to chill for a bit (while we watched a short episode of a daily Advent Calendar series from Denmark – thank you Katrine for highlighting and reminding me!) and baked them it was too late to decorate! We therefore did the decorating this morning and ate it as part of pudding with friends for lunch! Was great!
The dough is quick and simple, has few ingredients, and can be used to make any shape you like. I have used it for years, not sure where I got it from, but the idea for the Christmas Cookie Tree came from a picture I saw in a Sainsburys catalogue a few weeks ago.450g plain flour 225g butter – softened 225g caster sugar 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla essence Icing sugar, silver balls, edible glitter and food colouring to decorate
- Put flour and butter in a bowl and chop into it until the mixture resembles big breadcrumbs (bit of a strange description but not sure how else to explain!)
As you can see it is a very serious exercise that requires not only deep concentration but preferably an army apron as well as penguin chefs hat?!
- Add the caster sugar and keep cutting into it to combine
- Crack the egg into the mixture, as well as adding the vanilla essence – this is when the dough will start to come together
- Your hands now need (quite a nice necessity actually!) to go into the dough in order that the warmth from them make the butter soften. The floury mixture quickly becomes a smooth dough ball….so so tempting to eat! It will, one day, be added to ice cream I think…hmmm. The children loved this bit…
- Once combined, and tasted (!), wrap in cling film and put in the fridge. Leave it there for about half an hour to chill – this will make it easier to roll out and use. Less sticking to the work surface!
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 190C and then use different sized star cookie cutters to cut out as many star shapes as you can. We ended up with 8 big, 8 medium, 8 small and 6 tiny ones… It is important you have different sizes or it will not end up looking like a tree when you layer the cookies…
- Place cookies in the pre heated oven for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. If you leave them longer they will be slightly darker and more crisp – which you may prefer – up to you!
- Let cool on wire racks and once completely cool you can make the Christmas Tree.
- Mix icing sugar with a bit of water and food colouring of your choice. We used green for the main tree stars and yellow for the tiny ones we put on top.
- Using wooden sticks as tools, let your children colour the stars. Once iced, layer them starting with the biggest stars and working your way to the smaller ones as you ascend the tree. Also lay them so that they are slightly off centre – see picture – all the way to the top.
- Once done – dust with icing sugar and decorate….
- Use as centre piece on the table or just eat! We did both!
Christmas Feeling is definitely growing here….every day getting a bit closer…are you feeling it?