I’ve made these Christmas cookie trees the past few years and they are always a huge hit. It makes an adorable centerpiece, or bring this to a cookie exchange party and blow everybody’s mind!
Equipment and Supplies
- 3D Christmas tree cookie cutter set + 1 smaller star cutter (optional)
- Heart cookie cutter for topper
- Toothpick, bamboo skewer, or lollipop stick
- 10″ round cake drum, round cake board, or plate
- 1 batch of royal icing – flooding consistency
- Liquid whitener (white food coloring)
- Edible pearl sprinkles in various sizes (in color of your choice)
- 3 batches of shortbread sugar cookie dough
- Green food coloring (or whatever color you want you cookie dough)
- Piping bags or bottles
- Edible silver paint, vodka or clear extract, and paintbrush
- Sheet pans
- Silicone baking mats or parchment paper
- Rolling pin
Note: I have the 3D Christmas tree star cookie cutter set from Wilton, but I can’t find it in stock anywhere. They might only carry it during Christmas season, but there are a few different options from other brands online.
Making this tree is a multi-day process, as dough needs to chill overnight, and flooded cookies need to dry before assembling!
Make 3 batches of cookie dough and allow to chill in refrigerator overnight.
Cut out, and bake the following cookies:
- 1 of the largest star cookies
- 1 each of the 2 smallest star cookies*
- 2 each of the remaining sizes of stars
- 1 topper heart cookie (with a toothpick stuck in like a lollipop)
*If you don’t have the extra mini star cutter, cut out 2 of the smallest sized stars.
You should have 19 star cookies and 1 heart cookie. I suggest grouping similar sized cookies on the same cookie sheets. Larger cookies will take longer to bake, and if you have small and large cookies on the same cookie sheets, the smaller cookies will burn by the time the larger cookies are done baking.
Leave enough space between cookies as they do spread a bit, and then shrink back up, during baking.
STOP! After cookies have been baked, allow them to FULLY cool to room temperature before flooding them with icing. DO NOT flood warm cookies!
The largest sized cookies are difficult to fully flood without the icing drying and cracking on you. So you want to flood the center of each of the largest cookies (every cookie but the smallest 5-7 cookies) and then flood the points.
Make sure to not flood in the holes in the small top cookies.
Flood topper cookie with white icing and then sprinkle pearl sprinkles onto the wet icing. Allow to dry overnight, and then paint with edible silver paint or luster dust.
To paint with edible luster dust, mix a small amount of the powder with just enough vodka (or a clear extract, like lemon) until you make a thin paste, then paint cookie. You want to use vodka or a clear extract, because if you paint on a cookie with water, the icing will melt, and alcohol evaporates faster.
Once you have flooded all of your cookies, allow them to dry overnight before assembling your tree.
- Glue the largest cookie down to your cake drum or plate with royal icing. Make sure not to use too much icing so it doesn’t squish out from the sides.
- Glue the next cookie down on top of the bottom cookie, staggering the points of the star.
- Continue gluing down cookies, working from largest to smallest, staggering the points.
- Pipe some royal icing into the hole in the cookies at the top of the tree, and insert the topper. You might have to trim the toothpick/stick if it is too long.
Vanilla Shortbread Sugar Cookies
- measuring cups and spoons
- mixing bowls
- paring knife
- cling wrap
- cookie cutters
- large knife
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract or extract of your choice
- green food coloring
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Whisk dry ingredients (flour and cornstarch) together and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugars with paddle attachment, on medium-low speed, until fluffy and pale in color (about 5 minutes).
- Add egg, extract, and green food coloring and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the paddle with a spatula, and then continue to mix on low speed for another 30 seconds to ensure everything is fully incorporated.
- Add dry ingredients, all at once, and mix on low speed just until dough starts to come together and no dry bits remain. Do not overmix.
- Turn dough out onto cling wrap, tightly wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
- Knead, roll, cut out cookies, and return to fridge or freezer until firm. Leave a couple inches between cookies.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for another 1-5 minutes until edges are starting to turn darken slightly. Larger cookies will need a longer baking time than smaller cookies.
- Remove from oven and allow to fully cool on cookie sheet before handling.
- Make sure all ingredients are room temperature.
- Adding 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch to your dough will prevent your cookies from shrinking or spreading during baking.