December is all about Christmas cookies here at the Bluenose Baker! I’ve got 3 very festive and special recipes to share with you over the next few weeks, along with the stories and memories that go with them. Cookies are a year-round favourite treat here, but there are a few special recipes that only come out around the holidays.
If you’re looking for an adorable, yet simple holiday cookie, look no further! These Christmas Tree cookies aren’t complicated at all, but look so professional no one will believe that they’re homemade. They’re tasty too! These cookies would be perfect for a tree decorating party. They’re great for school parties as well – no icing means less mess!
This week’s post is a little late, but you’ll see in a few minutes why I wanted to share it on this particular day.
Since I created my Slice and Bake Pumpkin Cookies in October, I’ve been pondering other holiday versions. Those cookies were one of my favourite creations, and one of my most popular posts. A Christmas version was inevitable, and a Christmas Tree seemed like the perfect design. Luckily they turned out just as well as I’d imagined!
I’m sharing these cookies today to celebrate a very special Christmas tree. Each year, the province of Nova Scotia sends a tree to Boston. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for the assistance the New England states gave after the Halifax Explosion in 1917. You can read more about this tradition here.
I have been fascinated by the Halifax Explosion and the Boston Tree since receiving a book about the tree for my fifth birthday. Every year, I follow the tree’s journey in the media. When I was a kid, a friend of my grandmother’s in Boston sent me newspaper clippings every year. Today I follow the tree on Twitter, but I’m no less fascinated by it. Seeing the tree lighting in person is at the top of my bucket list!
This year, the tree comes from my area of Nova Scotia, which makes it even more special, and Dave Gunning (a local musician) will be performing. I will be watching as they light it up tonight! If you’re in the Maritimes or New England, check it out on CTV or ABC.
So let’s honor this special tree with some tree cookies!
Start with a basic sugar cookie dough. You can find my recipe in this post, or use your favourite. If necessary, use a cookie recipe that meets your dietary needs (vegan, gluten-free, etc.) I’m working on a gluten and dairy-free cookie recipe, but it’s not perfect yet!
You’ll need green and brown gel food coloring, and some sprinkles, if you’d like.
Set aside a small ball of dough for the trunk, and divide the remaining dough into thirds. I use my kitchen scale to portion the dough out evenly.
Tint 1/3 of the dough green. Quickest way to do this – mix it in your stand mixer until the dough is uniformly colored.
Tint the small ball brown (using the mixer or your hands) and leave the rest of the dough uncolored.
For “decorations” you can mix a few tablespoons of sprinkles into the dough. Use “jimmies” (the long thin sprinkles, not the little balls.) Mix them in the mixer after you color the dough, or knead them in by hand. I put sprinkles in half of my cookies – then took most of the photos of the non-sprinkled version. Don’t get confused – the rest of the steps are the same regardless!
It’s much easier to work with half the dough at a time, so I split the green and brown dough into two portions before chilling it.
Chill the dough for 20-30 minutes. It should still be pliable, but not sticky.
On a sheet of waxed paper, roll each half of the green dough into a rope, 15 – 20 cm long.
Use your fingers to pinch along the length of the dough, forming a rough triangular prism.
Wrap the waxed paper around the dough and slide each side of the triangle along the counter, to flatten the faces and sharpen the corners. It will look the most “tree-like” if it’s a little taller than it is wide.
Roll the brown dough into a rope the same length as the tree, and press it gently into the middle of the shortest side.
Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Place both trees on a baking sheet and freeze for 45 minutes, until very firm.
In the meantime, take the un-tinted dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature until it’s soft enough to work with.
Split the dough in half, and roll one half into 6 ropes, the same length as the trees.
Press one rope over the tree’s trunk, and the other two onto the sides of the tree. Repeat with the other tree and the rest of the ropes. Roll the log of dough gently to press the dough into the gaps.
Divide the remaining dough in half, and roll each half into a rectangle. It should be as long as the tree and wide enough to wrap around it – you don’t need to measure or be super precise.
Wrap the sheet of dough around the log.
then wrap the log in waxed paper. Roll it across your work surface until you have a smooth, round log. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Chill the logs of dough for 30 minutes.
Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into 1 cm slices, rotating the log ¼ turn with each slice (this helps to keep the log from getting a flat spot.) Gently press any gaps in the dough together.
Place the cookies on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 8 – 10 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly browned and the edges are set but not browned.
Santa would love to have some Christmas tree cookies for his snack!
The cookies are adorable as is, but I think they’d be even more darling with a star! Just stick a star-shaped sprinkle on with a tiny bit of icing (I’ll show you once I get to Bulk Barn and get some more sprinkles!)
Whether for a party, cookie exchange or just a special treat, wow everyone with these Christmas Tree Cookies this season!