One of the best ways to make warm holiday memories is by baking holiday cookies together. When my children were very small, I decided to create a holiday tradition of baking cookies. Now mind you, I was young and not much of a cook, so for many years, we used the cookie dough you can buy in the store. The kids didn't mind, and may not even remember that part, because it was the time spent together, the fun decorating, and the fun of sharing what we made with others. It was a magical time. This year, with the need to bake gluten free and vegan, I took it up a notch, and adapted these awesome trees from my Taste of Home Christmas Cookie book.These beautiful and unique 3-D Christmas trees are as much fun to make as they are to eat! Serve each tree on a saucer or group them into a forest of different heights on a serving platter.
I do not yet blend my own GF flours, but this I do know: baking with Sweet Rice Flour is crucial of you want dough to stick together and not be crumbly. It is also called glutinous rice flour, look for it online or in an Asian market.
- 1½ cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour that contains sweet rice flour (see not above pic)
- ½ cup tapioca flour OR potato starch
- 1 cup gluten-free powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon guar gum OR xanthan gum
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks of Earth Balance
- 2 Tbsp whole Psyllium husks mixed in 4 Tbsp warm water
- 1 tablespoon nut milk OR canned coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
- green food coloring
- 4 cups gluten-free powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk OR canned coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon agave
- Food coloring
- optional, colored sprinkles and edible glitter
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly spray with vegetable spray
- Put all dry cookie ingredients in a food processor and pulse about 3 times to thoroughly blend. (or place the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined)
- Add pieces of Earth Balance and pulse about 10 times. If using an electric mixer, beat on high for about 1 minute.
- Add egg replacer, 1 tablespoon of milk, lemon extract, lemon peel and 4-5 drops green food coloring - or divide the dough and only color half if you want a variety in your trees. Stir or pulse about 5 times. The mixture should form a sticky, stiff dough. If the dough is too dry, gradually drizzle in more milk – slowly. Add more coloring one drop at a time if needed. You don’t want the dough too sticky or it will be harder to roll out.
- Wrap the dough in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight before rolling and cutting out cookies.
- Lightly flour a large sheet of waxed paper with gluten-free flour and roll the dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Try to roll the dough evenly so cookies will bake evenly.
- Use tree-shaped cookie cutters with identical shapes, measuring 2-1/2 in., 3 in., 4 in. and 4-1/2 in. Cut out an even number of cookies with each size cookie cutter. If the dough softens too much while cutting the cookies, place the dough on the waxed paper on a baking sheet and freeze it for several minutes and then continue.
- VERY IMPORTANT: Once shapes are cut and arranged on cookie sheet, place in freezer for 25-30 minutes, this keeps the dough from becoming too crumbly to keep their form.
- Bake in a preheated oven for about 12 minutes or just until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown. Immediately cut half of each size tree cookies in half from top to bottom. If tree cookie cutters have trunks, trim trunks off trees, creating a flat base. Remove to wire racks to cool.
- While cookies are baking, prepare sugar cookie icing by whisking all icing ingredients until smooth. The goal is to add just enough milk for a spreadable consistency. Add milk gradually. If the icing gets too thin, add more powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time. Divide the icing between several bowls and add a few drops of different food coloring to each bowl, adding one drop at a time until you get the color you want. Make a small amount of green icing to put the trees together. Stir until smooth.
- Cool cookies completely before decorating with prepared icing.
- · Stand up partially assembled trees. Attach one matching cookie half to the opposite side of the tree by piping frosting along the center of the whole cookie . Let dry completely.
- · Using another pastry or resealable plastic bag, medium star pastry tip #21 and either white or green frosting, pipe garlands around sides of trees. Decorate with sprinkles if desired. Let dry completely.
To make snow-tipped trees (at lower left in photo): Assemble trees as described for fuller trees using green cookies. Using another pastry or resealable plastic bag, large round pastry tip #8 and white frosting, pipe snow on tips of branches. Sprinkle with edible glitter. Let dry completely.
To make glazed trees (at lower right in photo): In a small bowl, thin 1 cup green frosting with 2-3 tablespoons water until frosting reaches pourable consistency. Place matching pairs of whole and halved cookies on a wire rack over waxed paper. Pour icing over cookies; spread with a metal spatula to completely cover top and sides of cookies. Let dry completely. Assemble, using garland tree method; let dry. Decorate as desired. Yield: 6 dozen cookies (or 18-36 cookie trees, depending on fullness of trees).
Tip: Store undecorated cookies in an air-tight container for make-ahead convenience.