One good idea often leads to another. That's certainly the case with this tasty craft that began with a favorite cookie at Pat's house. Pat's delightful gingerbread recipe came across our Test Kitchen's desk not long ago. We knew it was a "winner"—but what caught our eye was her note about the piles of cookies she and her family traditionally cut out each Christmas. That got all of us thinking in a crafty direction. We soon started piling up our own cookies in the shape of this Christmas tree! Before you know it, we had another "Crafting with Taste" project to pass along. Not only does this centerpiece make an attractive table topper, you don't need to worry about dessert when you craft it. Just pass the plate around your dinner table and let guests dig in!
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups light molasses
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 10 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1 container (3 ounces) cinnamon red-hot candies (about 1/3 cup)
- Confectioners' sugar, optional
- Clear Contact paper (optional)
- 10-inch flat serving plate
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, molasses and vinegar; mix well. Combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and chill overnight.
- To prepare star pattern: Trace each star size onto waxed paper and cut out. If you would like to preserve the patterns, copy them, cover both sides with Contact paper and cut out. On a lightly floured surface, roll a portion of dough to 1/4-in. thickness; keep rest refrigerated.
- To cut out stars: Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut around star patterns. You will need a total of 33 cookies--two treetop stars; three each of stars 1-4 and 9; and four each of stars 5-8. Place 12 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Press a red-hot candy into the center of each treetop star; press red hot candies into points of the rest of the stars. In one number 9 star, make two indentations as shown on the pattern (to hold the treetop stars in place).
- To bake: Place all cookies in a 350° oven and bake until lightly browned on the edges; 5 minutes for treetop stars; 8-10 minutes for numbers 6-9; 11-12 minutes for numbers 1-5. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes; remove to wire racks and cool completely.
- To assemble: Starting with star number 1, stack stars on the serving plate, staggering star points. For a natural-looking tree as shown in the photo at left, the sizes are alternated in the following order: 1-1-2-1-2-3-2-3-4-5-4-5-5-6-5-6-6-7-6-7-7-8-7-8-8-9-8-9-9 ( with indentations). Place the two tree top stars in the indentations, leaning back to back. Dust tree with confectioners' sugar if desired. To serve, pass the entire tree. Yield: 33 cookies.
Originally published as Gingerbread Tree Recipe in Country Woman November/December 1995, p26
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