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Gingerbread Star Tree

 Gingerbread Star Tree
Our home economists created this impressive, tasty cookie tree for the 2008 Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook. Guests can nibble on the gingerbread cookies as they talk and mingle at your festive gathering. For more information, go to shop.tasteofhome.com.
36 ServingsPrep: 2 hours + standing Bake: 15 min./batch + cooling

Ingredients

  • DOUGH:
  • 1-1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/3 cups molasses
  • 2 cups cold butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ROYAL ICING AND DECORATIONS:
  • 7-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 6 tablespoons meringue powder, divided
  • 10 tablespoons warm water, divided
  • Edible glitter
  • Candy of your choice
  • Dark chocolate and white candy coating, melted
  • EQUIPMENT:
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Waxed paper

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Gingerbread Star Tree (continued)

Ingredients (continued)

  • Scissors
  • Cookie cutters—round (2-1/2 inches, 2 inches and 1-1/2 inches) and star-shaped (3 inches, 2 inches and 1 inch)
  • #101 petal pastry tip

Directions

  • To create star templates: With a pencil and ruler, draw five-pointed
  • stars on sheets of waxed paper, labeling each template with its
  • dimensions. Draw an 8-1/2-in. star, 8-in. star, 7-1/2-in. star,
  • 7-1/4-in. star, 6-3/4-in. star, 6-in. star and 4-1/2-in. star. Cut
  • out with scissors and set aside.
  • To make dough: In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring brown
  • sugar and molasses just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from
  • the heat; stir in butter until melted. Stir in eggs until blended.
  • Combine the remaining dough ingredients; stir into brown sugar
  • mixture. Divide dough into four portions.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion to 1/4-in.
  • thickness. Using templates, cut one 8-1/2-in. star, two 8-in. stars,
  • one 7-1/2-in. star, two 7-1/4-in. stars, one 6-3/4-in. star, two
  • 6-in. stars and one 4-1/2-in. star. Place on greased baking sheets.
  • Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes or until set. Remove to wire
  • racks to cool.
  • Cut two circles using a floured 2-1/2-in. round cookie cutter. Cut 12
  • circles using a floured 2-in. round cookie cutter. Cut two circles
  • using a floured 1-1/2-in. round cookie cutter. Cut remaining dough
  • using floured star-shaped cookie cutters. Reroll scraps. Place on
  • greased baking sheets. Bake at 325° for 10-12 minutes or until
  • set. Remove to wire racks to cool.
  • For one batch of icing: In a large bowl, combine 3-3/4 cups
  • confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder and 5
  • tablespoons water; beat on low speed just until combined. Beat on
  • high for 4-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Keep icing covered
  • at all times with a damp cloth. If necessary, beat again on high
  • speed to restore texture.
  • To assemble: With icing and round cookies, make one 2-1/2-in.
  • sandwich cookie, six 2-in. sandwich cookies and one 1-1/2-in.
  • sandwich cookie. Let stand for 15 minutes or until set.
  • Place the 8-1/2-in. star on a serving plate. Spread a small amount of
  • icing onto center of star; top with an 8-in. star. Spread a small
  • amount of icing onto center of star; top with 2-1/2-in. round
  • sandwich cookie. Spread a small amount of icing onto sandwich
  • cookie; top with remaining 8-in. star. Let stand for 15 minutes or

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Gingerbread Star Tree (continued)

Directions (continued)

  • until set.
  • Repeat with remaining icing, sandwich cookies and stars, building
  • tree using the largest stars and sandwich cookies first. After each
  • star is added, let stand for 15 minutes or until set.
  • To decorate: Prepare a second batch of icing. Cut a small hole in the
  • corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert #101 petal tip. Fill bag
  • with icing. Decorate tree as desired with icing, edible glitter and
  • candy. Decorate a 2-in. star cookie as desired; secure on the
  • treetop with icing.
  • To decorate small star cookies: Dip cookies in melted candy coating;
  • place on waxed paper and let stand until set. Sprinkle white cookies
  • with edible glitter. Leave some cookies plain if desired. Gently
  • place cookies onto tree branches and on the serving platter. Yield:
  • 1 gingerbread tree and 3 dozen small star cookies.
Editor's Note: Meringue powder and edible glitter are available from Wilton Industries. Call 1-800/794-5866 or visit www.wilton.com.