How to Make 3D Gingerbread Cookie Trees for the Holidays
Make gingerbread men a thing of the past and impress your friends and family with these 3D cookie Christmas trees! Not only are these cookie sandwiches filled with fluffy vanilla frosting, but they’re also stacked sky-high into cookie sculptures. Take the tradition of making and sharing Christmas cookies to new heights (literally) and really stun you guests. Wouldn’t one of these be perfect at each place setting for a dinner party or a take-home gift? Bonus: These wow-worthy treats are just as easy to make as your classic sugar cookie (with all the fun of decorating, too) — we promise.
— pre-made gingerbread cookie dough
— 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
— 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
— 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
— 1 to 2 teaspoons milk or cream
— 1 egg white
— 1 to 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
— sprinkles and sugar pears for decorating
— flour for dusting
— rolling pin
— baking sheet
— parchment paper
— cookie cutters in various sizes
— mixing bowl
— electric mixer
— piping bag and piping tip
For the Cookies:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Roll out the pre-made gingerbread cookie dough to about 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thick.
3. Use cookie cutters to cut out two cookies per size, per tree.
4. Carefully transfer the cookie dough to the baking sheets.
5. Bake for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the cookies just barely start to crisp around the edges.
6. Let cookies rest on a wire rack until cool, then pair up each cookie with one of equal size.
7. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
For the Filling:
1. Meanwhile, make the filling by mixing the butter until smooth.
2. With the mixer on low, gradually add in two cups of the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.
3. Once incorporated, mix on medium-high until smooth and fluffy.
4. Spread the filling on the bottom of one of the cookies from each pair. Sandwich the cookies together and set aside.
For the Decorative Royal Icing:
1. To make the decorative royal icing, mix the egg white with a whisk attachment until foamy.
2. Gradually add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, then turn the mixer up to medium-high.
3. Continue to mix on medium-high until fairly stiff and opaque in color.
4. Add in the lemon juice and mix until combined.
1. Fill a piping bag, fitted with a plain round piping tip, with the royal icing.
2. Decorate the tops of each cookie with the royal icing and toppings.
3. Using the royal icing as “glue” to stack together each tree, using one cookie sandwich in each size.
4. Top the cookie tree with a star standing upright, if desired.
For the gingerbread cookie dough, feel free to make your own in advance or use a mix or good ol’ store-bought dough. Want to save a few extra steps? Swap the filling recipe for a can of pre-made vanilla frosting!
Use whatever shape of cookie cutters you’d like, as long as they are graduated in size. Try using all different sizes of circles or stars! You may find that if you put cookies of all the different sizes in the oven in one try that the smaller ones crisp up a bit more. We tried it both ways (all together and separate) and found that it did not make too big of a difference in terms of baking time. If you bake all the littles together, try only baking for about eight minutes.
Whip up the softened butter until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually incorporate the remaining ingredients, adding more or less milk as necessary. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high and whip until fluffy.
Pair up the cookies before you start sandwiching them together. The baking and handling may have altered their sizes slightly, so find each cookie’s best match.
The lemon juice helps keep the royal icing pure white. If you want to skip the raw egg white, try mixing powdered sugar with just a splash of milk. The icing should be thick but pipe-able.
Time to get creative! Decorate your cookie trees however you’d like. Try adding sugar pearls, sprinkles or even dyeing the royal icing different colors.
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