Hop aboard this sugar cookie sleigh— it comes complete with Santa, a team of sweet reindeer (including Rudolph, of course) and a wintry wonderland scene! Our CW kitchen staff reined in the idea for this dashing accent for a buffet table or a mantel. It's fun to fix...so you can deliver one to your decor in merry fashion.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup milk
- Green colored sugar
- Cookie cutters4-inch and 5-1/4-inch Christmas trees, 4-1/2-inch Santa and 3-inch reindeer
- ICING AND ASSEMBLY:
- 4 egg whites
- 7-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 6 teaspoons hot water
- 22-inch x 16-inch display base (heavy-duty cardboard, cutting board or piece of plywood, covered with foil wrapping paper or aluminum foil)
- Serrated knife or emery board
- Pastry bags or heavy-duty resealable plastic bags
- Pastry tips#3 round, #67 leaf and #27 star
- Canned goods and small spice bottles for propping
- 4 peppermint candy canes
- Green, brown, and red paste food coloring
- 4 brown plus 7 red candy-coated milk chocolate balls, such as Hershey's
- Chocolate and colored sprinkles
- 13 vanilla wafers
- Red colored sugar
- Sweetened shredded coconut
- 1 package (14 ounces) Starburst candies, unwrapped
- 4 pieces red shoestring licorice (10 to 12 inches)
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in extracts. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Cover and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or until easy to handle.
- Trace patterns onto waxed paper, tagboard or thin cardboard; cut out. Divide dough in half. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out each portion of dough onto a greased baking sheet to 1/4-in. thickness. Position patterns on dough 2 in. apart. Using a sharp knife, cut out a sleigh front, back, base and two sides. Remove patterns. Remove dough scraps; cover and refrigerate.
- Generously sprinkle one side of sleigh front, back and side pieces that will face out with green colored sugar. Leave base plain. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- Roll out dough scraps. Using cookie cutters, cut out three 5-1/4-in. trees, one 4-in. tree, five reindeer and one Santa. Place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- To make icing: In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar and a few teaspoons of hot water; beat for 12-15 minutes. If too stiff, add more hot water; it too thin, add more sugar. Place a damp cloth over the bowl and cover tightly between uses.
- To assemble sleigh: Test sleigh pieces to make sure they fit together snugly. If necessary, file carefully with a serrated knife or emery board to make them fit.
- Insert #3 tip into pastry bag; fill two-thirds full with icing. Pipe a wide strip of icing along the outside edges of the sleigh base. Position and press the sleigh sides, sugar side out, against the icing. Prop with cans.
- Pipe icing on the sides of the front and back sleigh pieces. Position front and back pieces, sugar side out, between the sides and touching the icing on the base. Prop with cans. (See Photo 1.) Pipe icing along the inside edges of the front, back and side pieces. Set aside to dry completely, about 4 hours.
- To decorate sleigh: For runners, cut 3-1/2 in. from the straight end of two candy canes; set aside. Gently turn sleigh over. Ice along the bottom edges of the sides. Position candy canes, curved ends down, so the curved edges nearly touch the sleigh front. Press into icing. Place one piece of reserved cut peppermint stick on each side to complete the runners. (See Photo 2.) Set aside to dry completely, about 4 hours.
- Turn sleigh right side up. Tint 2/3 cup icing with green food coloring. Use #67 tip to make a wreath on each side of sleigh. Set aside remaining green icing for the trees. Gently press three red candy-coated milk chocolate balls into each wreath for berries.
- To decorate deer: With brown food coloring, tint 2 tablespoons icing tan and 1 cup icing brown. Frost one side of deer brown; frost antlers tan. With a dab of brown icing, attach one brown candy-coated ball on each of four deer for the nose and one red candy-coated ball for Rudolph's nose. Using white icing, place a dot on each deer for eyes. Place one chocolate sprinkle in the center of each dot. Set aside to dry completely, about 1 hour. Set remaining brown icing aside for Santa and trees.
- Place a dab of white icing on four vanilla wafers. Press the back and front legs of two deer into icing on each wafer. Prop with cans; set aside.
- Place a dab of white icing on two more wafers; press back legs of two deer into icing. Cut another wafer in half and one into quarters. Place one halved wafer, cut edge down, on work surface. Prop up halved piece with a quartered piece on one or both sides; join pieces with icing. With a dab of icing, attach the front legs of the two deer to the wafer stands; prop with spice bottles. (See Photo 3.)
- For Rudolph, place a mound of icing in center of one wafer. Attach Rudolph's back legs to icing, rest the front legs on a small spice bottle so they are suspended 2 in. above the base. (See Photo 4.) Allow to harden.
- To decorate Santa: Tint 3 tablespoons icing with red food coloring. Frost hat, jacket, pants and sack; sprinkle red colored sugar over sack. Insert #27 tip into pastry bag; fill with white icing. Pipe a star at the tip of Santa's hat. Make a zigzag design on the hat brim and jacket bottom. Frost beard; cover with coconut. Pipe a thin line down the front of jacket. Place a small dot of icing for eyes and insert a chocolate sprinkle in the center of each. With some of the reserved brown icing, frost Santa's boots. Pipe a belt and buttons with white icing and #3 tip. Place on waxed paper to harden.
- To decorate gifts: Using white icing and #3 tip, pipe a ribbon and bow on each Starburst candy. Place on waxed paper to harden.
- To decorate trees: Using reserved brown icing, frost the trunk of each cookie tree. Using reserved green icing, frost cookies; sprinkle with decorating sprinkles. Place on waxed paper to harden. Attach each tree to a vanilla wafer with a dab of icing (as in deer decorating instructions). Prop with cans, placing a Starburst between tree and can.
- To assemble entire table decoration: Working from one corner toward the center, spread a thin layer of white icing on one-third of the display board. Position sleigh in the corner of frosted board with curved runners facing the opposite corner. Sprinkle coconut over icing and press down.
- Using white icing, completely frost the remaining board. Lay wet paper towels over frosting if it begins to dry. Immediately position the two deer on flat wafers about 2 in. from the sleigh front and 2 in. from each other. Place the two deer on stands 2 in. from the first deer and 2 in. apart.
- Center Rudolph 2 in. in front of second pair of deer. Return spice bottle under Rudolph's front legs until displaying. Attach trees to display board. Carefully sprinkle coconut over icing and press down. Allow to dry for 8 hours or overnight.
- For the reins, cut ends of licorice piece at an angle. Place a dab of icing next to Rudolph's nose; attach the flat side of the angled licorice end to the icing, holding until stable, about 5 minutes. Attach with a dab of icing to remaining deer. Repeat.
- Place licorice ends over sleigh front. Repeat on other side. In center of sleigh, attach Santa with a dab of white icing. Prop with a spice bottle until set. Fill sleigh with gifts. Place additional gifts around sleigh if desired.
Originally published as Sugar Cookie Sleigh in Country Woman Christmas Annual 1999, p48
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