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Cookie tree a project for small hands

Thursday, November 29, 2001

By Kathleen Ganster

I love holiday traditions, and, with three kids, I am always looking for new ones that can involve them. When I spotted a Christmas tree made out of star-shaped cookies, we decided to give it a try.

Cookie people gathering around the cookie tree is just the beginning of a fun tableau. (Our "snow" is fluffed-up quilt batting. (Franka Bruns, Post-Gazette)

Cole, my 7-year-old, and Kenton, 10, were willing assistants. Eliza, 12, jumped on board for the icing and decorating part.

This is an easy project to do with children, although it does require a bit of planning. You will need star cookie cutters in graduated sizes. King Arthur Flour Co. actually sells a kit with copper cookie cutters and dowel rods to complete a tree, but I opted for a less expensive method and bought a set of plastic star cutters at Make a Cake on Rochester Road in Ross. You can probably find cutters elsewhere as well. The set contains six stars with the largest 5 inches across. We also used two people cutters that my sister gave me for Christmas when I was 6. My kids, of course, think they are antiques.

We made the accompanying basic refrigerator cookies, doubling the original recipe. The dough must be refrigerated for at least a couple of hours, so plan accordingly. Cole and I mixed up the batch and, two days later, I enlisted both boys to help with the rolling and cutting.

Using the King Arthur catalog as a guide, we used four big stars for the bottom layers of the tree, three of the next size, two of the next, two of the next, one of the fifth smallest star and two of the littlest. We also used one of the littlest stars for the top of the tree. We had enough dough for two trees plus a few extra shapes including our people cookies.

The next step is the icing. We used a Royal Icing recipe that I have had for years -- I don't even know where it originated. My mother, a cake baker from way back, assured me it would act like glue, so I could forgo the dowel rod. It worked great.

We iced the stars green, then stacked them. Next, we drizzled some white icing over the branches to look like snow and act as glue for our silver and colored dragees. That's the part Eliza liked best. We also used yellow sugar on the star for the top of the tree.

We created a little holiday scene that would also be edible -- just ask Cole. It may not look perfect to others, but to us, it was exquisite. And another tradition has started.

Kathleen Ganster writes the Cooking with Kids column and often cooks with her own three children. She is a Hampton-based free-lance writer.

Related Recipes:

Basic Refrigerator Cookies
Royal Icing

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