Don’t want to spend hours outlining, flooding, and decorating cookies with royal icing to get a pretty decorated effect? You need my easy cutout cookies! It’s so simple to colour a portion of the dough with gel food colouring and then play jigsaw with a Christmas tree cutter.
These cookies are a great testament to what the mind can dream up when it’s not otherwise occupied. I had the idea for them (as well as some forthcoming cupcakes!) while at a boring just not my kind of music gig with Lee. I was thinking about new and exciting christmas baking ideas that are things I haven’t done before. In fairness, Lee won my heart during an indie/alternative (now admitted) phase, and then moved onto liking some much more shouty music, while I still like indie/alternative/folk and a bit of pop!
Simple vanilla sugar cookies are ideal for so many situations! They’re delicious with a cup of tea and hold their shape really well with lots of room for sprinkles and frosting. In the past I’ve played around with royal icing (lovely Bridget at Bake at 350 makes the most incredible iced cookies!) to decorate cookies, which looks stunning, but is quite time consuming. It’s right for a really special occasion, but not for everyday biscuits in my book.
For these Christmas Tree Cookies, half of the cookie dough is easily coloured forest green by adding about a third of a teaspoon of green gel food colouring(it’s the same stuff I use to make my Rainbow Cake!). I often get mine from eBay for a couple of pounds, or you can try your local cake decorating shop.You can wear clean rubber gloves if you’re worried about your hand getting a bit green, and just gently knead the colouring into the dough. It will go tie-dye at first, but keep kneading until the colour is completely even and the dough is a forest green colour.
I got my small Christmas tree cookie cutters from eBay – they were just £1 for three! To ensure that the cookies don’t stick to the cutter, dip the cutter into the flour between each cookie. Assembling these cookies is so easy – simply cut large circular cookies out of the vanilla dough, and then use your Christmas tree cutter to cut a christmas tree shaped hole in the centre, into which you’ll pop a Christmas tree cut out of the green coloured dough. It’s actually incredibly easy – they just slot into each other, and once they bake, since the cookies expand, they’ll be completely one cookie!
The thing I love most about these cookies is that the fun cut out idea saves you from doing any fancy and time consuming cookie decorating royal icing (like the cookies below) which are from my Pinterest board. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE the way they look, but these cookies are so much easier and more fun to make.
250g / 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
250g / 1 cup plus one heaped tablespoon caster or golden caster sugar
2 large free range eggs
500g / 4 cups sifted plain flour
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
Tree green gel food colouring, such as Sugarflair Christmas Green or Holly Green
50g white chocolate / just under a third of a cup
First, make the biscuit dough. Combine your butter, which needs to be incredibly soft, with the sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the two eggs along with the vanilla bean paste, and then sift in the flour and mix with a large spatula - the dough will be quite stiff, but keep going until its all incorporated. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and then pop half onto some clingfilm and wrap it up tightly and put it into the fridge.
Next, add about a third of a teaspoon of gel food colouring to the remaining dough, and knead until it's completely incorporated. It will go streaky at first, but carry on and add more gel if necessary if the dough isn't green enough. If its sticky, dust it with a little extra flour. Once it's a nice Christmas green, pop it onto some clingfilm too and then wrap it up and let it rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Next, prepare three large cookie sheets with non stick baking mat or parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 160c/gas mark 4/350F.
Roll out your two doughs on a liberally floured work surface. Use a large circular cutter to cut out circles that will easily accommodate the size of Christmas tree cutter you're using, and transfer these to your cookie sheets. Next, cut out a christmas tree shape in the centre of each circle. Perform the same step with the green dough, and use a palette knife or spatula to pick up and transfer the green trees into the vanilla dough and vice versa.
Bake for 10-14 minutes, and keep a close eye on them and remove from the oven or swap to a lower shelf if they're starting to get browned (generally if they are starting to get browned, they will be done). Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
If you'd like to decorate with sprinkles, melt your white chocolate in the microwave (I use a mug for such a small amount, and microwave on 15 second intervals and stir well). Use a teaspoon to drizzle white chocolate over the biscuits, or to smear onto the outside of the cookies, and then add on sprinkles.