"It’s the most wonderful time of the year!" With this song in my head I trimmed my Christmas tree today. As the song says the holiday season is the most exciting and emotional time of the year for me and trim the Christmas tree is a warm welcome to this magical month. It's so good the recollections of my childhood when my mother, my sister and I used to made this action a great event. I have clear memories of my satisfaction to place each ornament one by one until the final decoration. The expectation for presents, shopping, candies, panettones, Christmas dinner and the family reunion were fabulous and I'm trying to keep this delightful sense of wonder alive.
After my wedding, setting up a tree at my new home became even more special. Over the years, I’ve been collecting some ornaments from the places I've visited. One that I really like is the crystal angel from the Munich Christmas Market.
So to celebrate this special event of the day I made some delicious gingerbread tree cookies decorated with marshmallow fondant. They are so cutie that you can use them as ornaments as well as a gift. With these gingerbread tree cookies I start my Christmas series and I hope you enjoy the ideas for your holidays!
Gingerbread Tree Cookies
(fron the book Willians-Sonoma Cooking at Home)
2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. salt
¾ cups (6 oz/185g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup unsulfured molasses
2 egg yolks
Decorating sugars and pastes as desired
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale yellow, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the brown sugar and beat for 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low and add the molasses, beating until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg yolks one at a time.
Sift the flour mixture mixture directly onto the butter mixture. Beat just until combined, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Using floured hands, form the dough into a smooth mound and divide into 3 equal portions. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove 1 dough disk at a time from the refrigerator and let stand for 10 minutes. Place the dough between 2 sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll out to a thickness of 1/4 to 3/8 inch. This thickness is important to ensure the baked cookies will fit together.
Dip the cutters into flour just before using and cut out the shapes. Using an offset spatula, carefully transfer the cutouts to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining dough. Gather up the scraps, reroll them and cut out additional cookies. For best results, do not reroll scraps more than once. Refrigerate the cookies until firm, about 20 minutes.
Bake the cookies until golden browned on the edges, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets, then decorate as desired.