Gingerbread Candle Holders
These clever Gingerbread Candle Holders from our Test Kitchen would make a lovely Christmas centerpiece when grouped together. Or use them at individual place settings as pretty party favors. To make them, you simply cut out trees with a tree-shaped cookie cutter and cut out round circles for the base. Then, using a plastic straw, cut out circles in a random pattern on the trees (so candlelight can shine through).
After baking the cookie pieces, assemble Gingerbread Candle Holders with a few dabs of frosting and place a votive candle or tea light on the base of holder behind the tree. You can also attach a birthday candle with a dab of icing on the base. (Be aware that the heat will eventually soften the icing.)
Beyond cookies, you can use your cookie cutters for many fun ideas. For example, heart-shaped cutters dress up Sweetheart Brownie Sundae and Heart-Shaped Herbed Rolls. Or you can add winter wonder to other favorite recipes like Macadamia Nut Fudge or Winter Wonderland Snowmen Brownies. Or check out these other fun ideas:
- Pretty Cheese, Please! For a simple addition to an appetizer buffet, consider adding eye appeal. You can cut fruit or cheeses into different shapes, such as rectangles, squares, triangles, cubes and sticks as in Superstar Spinach Salad or Little Dippers. (For the holidays, use small festive cutters.)
- Angel Food Fixer-Upper. I turn leftover plain angel food cake into light cookies. I cut the cake into 1/2-inch slices, then cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. I toast these "cookies" in the oven for a few minutes, then serve with fresh fruit or add them to a dessert tray. —Caron Osberg, Des Moines, Iowa
- Pleasing Pancakes. My daughter-in-law, Lynn Gunderson, has a unique way of making pancakes for her family of six. She pours pancake batter onto a cookie sheet and bakes it at 400° for about 20 minutes. She then cuts the pancakes into squares or shapes with large cookie cutters. —Ruth Gunderson, Menominee, Michigan
- Snazzy Sandwiches. To perk up my three sons' lunches, I use large cookie cutters in seasonal shapes to make their sandwiches and pack them in decorated resealable plastic bags. My youngest especially enjoys heart-, clover- or egg-shaped peanut butter sandwiches—plus the fact that the bread crust is trimmed away! —Kelly Ward Hartman, Cape Coral, Florida.
For fun ideas, check out Cheese Cutout Sandwiches, Angel Sandwiches and B Is for Book Sandwich. And why stop at the sandwich, you can create fun shapes in tortillas and bake them for fun additions to lunches, like in Twinkle Twinkle Little Stars.
- Better Butter. Instead of having a stick of butter in a dish, impress guests with fun and festive shapes. To create butter cutouts, (like in Butter Hearts), cut a chilled stick of butter into 1/4-inch slices. Cut out shapes with small cookie cutters. Simple shapes like bells, Christmas trees and circles work best.
To make balls of butter, dip a melon baller in hot water and cut balls from a chilled 1-pound block of butter. Butter cutouts and balls can be made early in the day and refrigerated in an airtight container. Just before serving, arrange the cutouts or balls on a small lettuce-lined serving plate or on individual bread and butter plates.
- Christmas Cobbler. To make a cobbler fit any occasion, use seasonal cookie cutters to cut sheets of puff pastry dough. Arrange the cutouts over the fruit mixture, brush with butter, sprinkle with sugar, and bake until golden brown. —Dianne Carr, Alexander, Arkansas
Cookie Cutter Garnish
A festive garnish can add pizzazz to any beverage, says Michelle Krzmarzick of Redondo Beach, California. "To decorate a spritzer, pierce a maraschino cherry and an orange slice with a toothpick. I often cut partway through the orange slice so it can rest on the edge of the glass," she suggests. Here are a few other quick ideas for garnishing fruit drinks:
- Skewer berries, grapes, cherries, melon chunks and/or pineapple, then perch fruit kabobs across the top of the glass.
- Cut out fun shapes from orange or lemon rind using mini cookie cutters.
- Add a little flaked coconut to the top of the drink for a dusting of "snow."
- Accent beverages with festive candy-cane swizzle sticks.