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Welcome to my Sweets Blog!

Welcome to my Sweets Blog!
I've been looking for a way to share my sweet creations with everyone, and I think I have found it--here is my sweets blog! As I experiment with delicious desserts & sweet treats, I will post pictures, recipes, and how-to tips & tricks. Hope you enjoy reading about my sweets as much I enjoy eating them!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Tree Sugar Cookie Tower

The Christmas Tree Tower is definitely becoming my signature Christmas cookie treat. 

Me! Showing off my cookie tower on Christmas Day in 2009
I've been making it for quite a few years, and it's still somewhat of a work in progress. Every year I am trying to find the right balance between transport-ability and eat-ability. I want to be able to display it on a platter and bring it to parties, without everything falling apart during the car ride. But I also want it to be easy enough to take apart so the cookies that make up the tower actually get eaten! Regardless of the process, the end result has always had that wow factor, which makes me a happy baker. 

I will share the method I used this year. Who knows, next year I may fine tune the process and I will blog about it again. 


Tools & Equipment:
  • graduated star cookie cutters
  • roll-out sugar cookie recipe {get mine here!}
  • large batch of green royal icing {recipe here also}
  • small batch of yellow or gold royal icing
  • green sanding sugar
  • lollipop sticks or wooden dowel
  • drill (or electric screw-driver/drill) with a bit that is clean & never-before-used on non-food items - the size should closely match your lollipop stick or dowel
  • decorations: sprinkles, dragees, small batches of royal icing in other colors
  • optional: other cookies to put 'under' the tree (I like present cookies the best!)

First I start with a set of graduated star cookie cutters. These are by Wilton, and there are 6 in the set. A few other brands make similar sets. 


This year I added another small one, from a different set, which is slightly bigger than the smallest star. 


This year I made a bunch of each size so that once they cooled, I could stack them up to see how many of each cookie I wanted to use to construct tower. This is the part you can play around with, depending on how you like your trees to be proportioned (short & fat, tall & skinny, tall & fat...?) Also, this year I learned that if you like a thick layer of royal icing (like I do) it will look much taller after adding the icing. I highly would recommend this planning step, stacking and staggering each one so you see the points. This way you have a plan of attack once you are ready to put it all together.


I have 7 star sizes, and this year I decided to do 3 of each size (21 cookies for one tower).  

Next step is to outline & fill the stars with green royal icing, and top with sanding sugar. The sanding sugar was another new addition this year, and I really liked the effect!  *Make sure to save one small star for the topper (ice both sides, one at a time, with yellow or gold royal icing).



When topping with the green sanding sugar, you can save sugar by only sprinkling it over the edges, since the middle of the cookie won't be seen under the rest of the cookie tower anyway!


Let the icing dry completely. 

Now comes the fun part. Drilling time. Yes, I said take out your drill. Ok, ok...first make sure you have a new bit that has never actually been used in a wall or wood or anything. Wash it with soap and water. And you are ready to go! 


I am most comfortable holding the cookie around the edges with my left hand, at a 45 degree angle to the surface. Then I place the bit in the center of the back of the cookie & drill the hole! The drill I use is not a heavy-duty power tool, it's more of an electric screw-driver/drill. It goes through the cookie very quickly and easily, making a nice clean hole. The excess crumbs will need to be brushed off. Here is a front view... you can see in the left point of the star, the only downside of using the sanding sugar is that the crumbs stick to it stubbornly. 



This year, I stacked them on two lollipop sticks. Last year, I used a wooded dowel. Both worked fine, but needed a different size bit. I switched to lollipop sticks this year for one good reason- because I already had a huge bag of them!


Between each layer, I piped a small dot of green royal icing. Here's where the eat-ability comes into play. If the icing 'glue' dots are too thick, you will have trouble separating each layer, and people will be reluctant to take it apart to eat it. Trust me, I've seen it happen, and it makes me sad. I like making pretty cookies, and I want my friends and family to enjoy them visually, but the bottom line is I always want my cookies to be eaten! They are delicious!!!


When you get to the top of the lollipop stick, like in the photo above, add a little dab of icing to the opening and stack another lollipop stick on top. This may need to get trimmed, so you may have to go back to your planning step, and re-stack the cookies to see where the top will be. I cut off about two inches. 


Keep stacking until you have put all but one small green star on the tower. You should have one small green one and one small yellow one left. While the tower sets, you can make the topper. This is definitely one part I have not perfected yet. For the tower you see in this picture, I coated both sides of a small star in yellow royal icing, and when it was completely dry, I used green royal icing to attach it to a small green star (with an already drilled hole). I'm not thrilled with it, because the proportions don't look right to me-- the star topper is too big for the tree itself. 


And then it goes right on top!


The final step is to decorate the tree! This can be done in so many different ways, in any color scheme. Sprinkles, small candy, dots of royal icing, or dragées all work well. I kept it simple this time with silver and gold dragées. 




Can you believe I didn't take a final picture of the tower all put together this year!? I even made a smaller version for a coworker without the largest and next largest size layers. And no pictures! Anyway, here are a few other tree towers I've made over the years... 

2008

2009


2009


2010

1 comment:

  1. Glad to have seen this festive post. Your tutorial does inspire. Most the time when I see these type of things, I do not think I could make them. Your post here though is something I can make. That last picture is fantastic. Great post.

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