A dessert grows in your kitchen when you stack a series of ever smaller cookies to form a tannenbaum, and top it with a star-shaped cookie. Cream cheese frosting between pairs and confectioners' sugar dusted on top create a sweet snowfall.
- Yield: Makes 120 cookies and 10 trees
Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2006
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1/2 cup dark unsulfured molasses
- 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, then molasses, spices, baking soda, and salt. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour. Divide dough into quarters; shape into disks. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours (up to 2 days).
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Transfer one disk of dough at a time to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes using a set of 11 fluted round cookie cutters in graduated sizes (3/4 inch to 3 1/2 inches). You will use each cutter once for every tree. Using a 1 1/4-inch star cutter, cut out 10 stars. Arrange cookies by size on parchment-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes.
Bake until firm, about 6 minutes for small cookies and 10 minutes for large. Let cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks, and let cool completely.
Assemble trees: Put frosting into a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip (such as Ateco #12). Pipe a dime-size dot of frosting in center of second-largest cookie; sandwich with largest cookie. Repeat in descending pairs with larger cookies on top to make 5 sandwiches. Pipe a scalloped 1/4-inch-thick border of frosting on top of larger cookie of largest sandwich. Top with the second-largest sandwich, larger cookie up, and repeat to make a tree of 5 sandwiches. Top with frosting, then smallest cookie, then more frosting and a star (standing upright). Cookie trees can be refrigerated up to 6 hours (they will soften). Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.