Snowy Tree Sugar Cookies

Snowy Tree Sugar Cookie Recipe via bakeforcoffee.com

When I first started following baking blogs back in 2009,  I noticed I was drawn to all the blogs geared towards cookies. These talented women were making beautiful sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. I couldn’t believe how gorgeous a cookie could be, and they made it look soooo easy! I was intrigued and decided to explore the art of cookie decorating. Oh is it an art! I started reading all the techniques involved and tips and tricks such as how thick or thin to make your royal icing depending on if you are outlining the cookie or flooding the cookie, which angle to hold your piping bag or bottle when outlining, making sure the icing doesn’t pipe too fast or too slow etc. After a lot of practice and time spent, I came to the realization that I am not cut out to create those types of beautifully decorated cookies, for a few reasons, one being I have shaky hands and you have to be completely steady when outlining.  I envy all of those that can decorate cookie masterpieces!

With that being said, I have a bazillion cookie cutters and try to get creative with decorating cut out sugar cookies in other ways other than with royal icing. So when I saw this holiday tree cookie   idea and its simplicity, I knew I had to make it! What I love about this cookie, is it is just a simple tree made elegant with it’s snowy tips, which are just dipped in white candy melts! I used my all time go to sugar cookie recipe dyed green then used vanilla CandiQuik to dip the edges of the tree to acheive the “snowy” look. Viola! You then have a beautiful, crisp looking snowy tree sugar cookie! This is another great cookie idea for cookie exchanges, teacher gifts, holiday parties, Santa, etc. And the best part is they don’t take much time to make, which you know I am all about simple and saving you time! This is what I like to call a relaxing recipe, does not require much focus, so you can zone out late at night making these and they will turn out great! 😉

Since the sugar cookie dough recipe is pretty straight forward and simple, I did not include the step by step photos this time.

You literally just whisk the flour and baking powder in a bowl, set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer bowl on medium speed with the paddle attachment for a couple of minutes, then add the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and add as many drops of green food color as you like until you achieve the shade of green you want. When all ingredients are combined, and the cookie dough is crumbly, you are ready knead it all together and roll out.

Snowy Tree Sugar Cookie Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comGreen cookie dough after I had kneaded it together.

Snowy Tree Sugar Cookie Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comRoll dough to the thickness you like on parchment paper, then place rolled cookie dough/parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 5 minutes. The chilled dough will make the trees much easier to cut out and will also help to keep the shape/prevent the dough from spreading while baking.

Snowy Tree Sugar Cookie Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comYou don’t have to leave as much space as I did between the cookies, they don’t spread very much at all. Bake in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes or until the edges just begin to brown.

Snowy Tree Sugar Cookie Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comWhen finished baking, remove from oven and leave the cookies on the baking sheet to cool for  about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely. Heat the candy melts (with the vanilla Candiquik, I heated mine in the microwave in the tray it came in at 50% power for 30 seconds twice, then at 50% power for 15 seconds twice. Stir candy melts in between each time interval until you achieve a liquidy consistency.)  Dip the edges of your cookies in the candy melt, then set cookie on a sheet of wax or parchment paper to dry.

Snowy Tree Sugar Cookie Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comOnce the candy melt (snow) has hardened and feels cool to the touch, the cookies are then ready to serve or package up!

Snowy Tree Sugar Cookie Recipe via bakeforcoffee.com

Vanilla Sugar Cookie Recipe

*Makes about 36 cookies. The tree cookie cutter I used is 2 1/2 inches wide and 3 1/4 inches tall.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In large bowl, combine the flour and baking powder by whisking together, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until just combined.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract to the butter mixture until just combined. Add a few drops of green food color.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredient mixture and beat until just combined and crumbly.
  6. Knead the dough together until no longer crumbly and roll out on parchment paper. I rolled mine to about 1/4″ thickness. Put the parchment paper with rolled dough on a cookie sheet and place in freezer for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove dough from freezer and cut shapes. Place shapes on parchment lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes or until edges of cookie brown ever so slightly.
  9. When finished baking, remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for five minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a cooling rack until completely cool.
  10. Heat candy melts, dip edges of cookies, and let dry on wax/parchment paper. (With the vanilla Candiquik, I heated mine in the microwave in the tray it came in at 50% power for 30 seconds twice, then at 50% power for 15 seconds twice. Stir candy melts in between each time interval until you achieve a liquidy consistency.)
  11. Once candy melt has cooled and hardened on the cookies completely, the cookies are ready to serve or package!

ENJOY!

Mini Gingerbread Houses & GIVEAWAY!

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.com

Last year, we had friends over around the holidays to make gingerbread houses. I had built the houses on foil lined cake boards, and then placed the cake boards on cookie sheets for ease of transporting them. When everyone came over, they had a standing house ready to decorate. We all gathered around the table with more candy and royal icing than we knew what to do with! It was so much fun! We had a bunch of candy left over that we held onto for this year, knowing Ben was going to try and out do his house from last year.  (He plans very early). 😉

A few weeks ago I was at the store scanning the holiday section, and my eyes fixated on a Mini 3-D Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter . Visions of all that leftover candy came rushing to my head, and knowing Ben was going to be building a regular size gingerbread house this year, I thought, well, then I’ll make mini houses! It wasn’t even an option to walk away from that cookie cutter empty handed. So not only did I pick one up for me, but I picked up an extra for one of YOU! This cutter was just way too cute to not share, so  I am going to give one away to one lucky reader!

I will get into the details of the giveaway in a bit, but for now, let’s move onto the Gingerbread recipe! The package that the cutter came on, included a classic gingerbread recipe, so I went ahead and used that one. I was VERY pleased with the results! The dough was very easy to work with and the dough does not expand much at all while baking. Although the finished cookies aren’t very flavorful to eat, they are the perfect texture for building the little houses and decorating!

Start off by preheating your oven to 325°F and spray your cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. Slice up your sticks of butter, set aside.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comIn a large saucepan, put the brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, and ginger over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently with a wire whisk. About a minute after molasses mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comStir in the baking soda. Once baking soda is combined and the mixture has puffed up, gradually add the butter, stirring after each addition. When butter is completely melted and combined, add the egg, vanilla, and salt. Stir until just combined.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comPour molasses mixture into a large bowl. Add flour gradually, stirring with each addition until just combined.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comWhen flour is just about all the way combined, yet dough feels crumbly, start kneading the dough until it comes together and is no longer sticky.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comThe kneaded ball of dough is ready to roll out and cut! No need to chill dough, it is very easy to work with after kneading it together.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comI rolled out the dough to about 5/16″ thick. Press cutter.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comCut.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comPlace the pieces on the cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray, and bake for 10 minutes.

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comWhen finished baking, remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to completely cool before decorating. I added the ruler to show you just how small these pieces are! So cute!

I made the royal icing while the cookies were cooling since I knew I would be decorating them right away. If you are not decorating right away, I suggest making the royal icing right before you decorate the houses since royal icing dries rather quickly. That way you can make the icing, put the icing directly into your piping bags with desired tip sizes, and you don’t have to worry if your previously made icing has dry chunks in it or not. Once you pipe the royal icing onto the houses, it dries completely within a couple of minutes. I will provide a royal icing recipe below, that is specifically for building gingerbread houses. This particular icing holds your gingerbread houses together like super glue. If only you could see what Ben piles onto his roof pieces! I swear his gingerbread houses weigh 20 pounds! 😉 A good royal icing makes all the difference! You don’t want a royal icing that will just chip off, you need “super glue” royal icing!

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.comSo small, it sits in the palm of my hand! Have fun decorating!

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.com

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.com

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.com

Classic Gingerbread Recipe

*Makes 4 dozen cookies using the Mini Gingerbread House Cutter

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, and ginger in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently using a wire whisk.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in baking soda.
  4. Stir in butter gradually, stirring well in between additions to combine.
  5. Add egg, vanilla extract, and salt to sugar mixture, stirring to combine.
  6. Pour mixture into a large bowl and add flour gradually, stirring to combine.
  7. Knead dough until dough comes together and is no longer sticky.
  8. Roll the dough to about 5/16″ thick on parchment paper or a floured surface. Using the cookie cutter, cut dough and place shapes onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes.
  9. When cookies are finished baking, remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely before decorating.

Recipe from cookie cutter packaging via goodcook.com

Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses

Ingredients

  • 2.2 pounds powdered sugar
  • 5 Tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Cream of Tartar
  • 3/4 cup warm water

Directions

  1. Put the meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer, add the water, then hand mix using a whisk for 30 seconds until there are no more lumps.
  2. Add the cream of tartar and hand whisk about 30 more seconds until there are no more lumps.
  3. Pour all the powdered sugar into the mixer bowl with the meringue powder and cream of tartar combination. Place the bowl on your mixer stand, and using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 10 minutes. (#2 setting)
  4. Using a spatula, scrape the sides of your mixer bowl and transfer the royal icing to your piping bags fitted with whichever sized tips you prefer. For the mini gingerbread houses, I used a round #5 Wilton tip for building the walls, and a round #3 Wilton tip as well as the #5 tip for decorating. I also cut this royal icing recipe in half for the mini houses.  If you are building a regular size gingerbread house, I suggest using a round #10 Wilton tip for building the walls/decorating.

Recipe from sweetopia.net

Now for the GIVEAWAY! This giveaway contest is now closed. Thank you to those who commented!

ONE of my lucky readers will receive a Mini 3-D Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter!

Mini Gingerbread Houses via bakeforcoffee.com

All you have to do to be entered into this giveaway contest, is leave one comment on this blog post telling me what one of your favorite holiday traditions is! For example, every year, Ben and I make gingerbread houses while watching the Griswold’s Christmas Vacation movie!

This giveaway contest closes on Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 8:00pm PST. I will be using random.org to select a winner. I will contact the winner via e-mail as soon as the contest closes so be sure when leaving a comment that the e-mail you provide a valid.  Otherwise, check back here after the contest closes to find out the winner!

GIVEAWAY CONTEST CLOSED! THE RESULT IS IN…

Congrats to Wendy (comment #2)! I will be contacting you via e-mail!

True Random Number Generator Min: 1 Max: 5 Result: 2 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.com

It’s that time of year, where the hustle and bustle of the  holidays are all around us. The decorating, shopping, wrapping, mailing cards, baking, holiday parties, cookie exchanges, the list goes on and on and on. All of this, amongst our every day obligations, work and families to tend to.

So, how about an easy Shortbread Cookie recipe with a small list of ingredients, that you can roll out in no time at all! There truly is not much to making these cookies, in fact, you spend most of your time cutting them out and adding the sprinkles (the fun part), than you do collecting/measuring ingredients and making the dough.

I find these cookies perfect for Santa’s plate on Christmas Eve, or for that last minute Cookie Exchange party you were invited to but don’t have  a whole lot of time to bake anything extravagant, or as filler for the tray of holiday sweets you are sending to work with your spouse.

I look forward to baking these cookies every year, not only because of the simplicity in making them, but because they aren’t too sweet,  and they literally MELT IN YOUR MOUTH! I’m not kidding! The key ingredient here is the cornstarch, which adds a crumbly yet tender texture to these cookies.

Here’s how to make my Christmas  Shortbread Cookies…

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comStart off by whisking the flour and cornstarch together in a bowl. Set aside.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comCut the cold sticks of butter into slices and put the slices into a separate mixer bowl with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on low (#2 setting) until smooth. Don’t over-beat the butter. Add the confectioners sugar to the butter, and cream together.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comAdd the flour mixture to the butter mixture, continuing to beat on low (#2 setting), then add the vanilla extract and salt and beat all ingredients together until just combined. This is about what your dough should look like, a little crumbly, not too creamy.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comBall up the dough, cut a large piece of parchment paper and place on your counter top. Roll dough flat (I rolled out my dough to be about 5/16″ thick) on the parchment paper. Place the parchment paper with rolled out dough on a large cookie sheet, and place in the freezer for 2-3 minutes. (Freezing/cooling the dough will make it much easier to cut the shapes and transfer them to the cookie sheet. Chilling the dough will also help the cookies hold their shape while baking.) Preheat oven to 300°F.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comAfter 2-3 minutes in the freezer, the dough should be ready to cut. I used a 2″ fluted square cookie cutter.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comPlace your cut shapes onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill in the freezer again for 1-2 minutes before baking. If you don’t want to add sprinkles to the cookies, they are then ready to bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comI added a holly berry and leaves to each cookie. The sprinkles add such a holiday-ish touch and really dress up the cookies!

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comNow they are ready for the oven! 12 minutes.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comOnce cookies are done, let them cool on the cookie sheet about 5 minutes, then gently transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Christmas Shortbread Cookies Recipe via bakeforcoffee.comOnce cookies have cooled completely, they are ready to serve!

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

*Makes 40 two inch square cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Whisk the flour and cornstarch together in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cut the cold sticks of butter into slices and put the slices into your mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on low (#2 setting) until smooth. Don’t over beat. Add the confectioners sugar to the butter, and cream together.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, continuing to beat on low (#2 setting), then add the vanilla extract and salt and beat all ingredients together until just combined.
  4. Make a dough ball, cut a large piece of parchment paper and place on your counter top. Roll dough flat (I rolled out my dough to be about 5/16″ thick) on the parchment paper. Place the parchment paper with rolled out dough on a large cookie sheet, and place in the freezer for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  6. Remove dough from freezer. Using a 2″ fluted square cookie cutter (circle or any shape of your choice), cut your shapes.
  7. Place your cut shapes onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Add sprinkles to the cookies if you choose to.  Chill in the freezer again for about 1-2 minutes before baking.
  8. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes in the oven.
  9. Remove from oven, let cool on cookie sheet for five minutes.
  10. Gently transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Once completely cooled, the cookies are ready to package up or serve!

Variations:

*Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies – use Vanilla Bean Paste instead of the vanilla extract.

*Peppermint Shortbread Cookies – use 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract instead of the 1 teaspoon vanilla

ENJOY!

Sweets Themed Christmas Tree

Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.com

I thought I would change things up a bit, and rather than sharing a recipe today, I decided to give you a glimpse of my Sweets Themed Christmas Tree!

Whoa is that tree bright! This is my second year doing a “sweets” themed tree, and it’s so much fun! We bought this white tree on clearance after Christmas a few years ago with the “candy, baking, coffee, sweets” theme in mind. I only had a few themed ornaments to begin with, so it has been a work in progress accumulating ornaments for this specific tree!  Eventually I plan to add a gum drop garland, gum drop ornaments, donuts, macrons, more coffee mugs, pies etc. I would love for the tree to scream CANDY, CAKE, SUGAR OVERLOAD! For now though, this will do! 🙂

Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comLollipop Christmas Tree Topper. They are actually three separate lollipops that I stuck in the top to form the top!

Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.com

Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comI used this adorable candy ribbon as a garland. I believe I found this ribbon at Michael’s Craft Store last year.

Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comCandy train!

Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.com Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Chirstmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tjemed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakefor coffee.comSweet Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comIMG_4169Sweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.com

Sweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Themed Christmas Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.comSweets Tree via bakeforcoffee.com

Sweet Themed Christmas Tree via bakefor coffee.comThese two are in the repair shop 😦

Well folks, thank you so much for allowing me to share my tree with you, and for taking a peek at the majority of my favorite ornaments! Happy holiday season!

XO,

Christie