Whip up a forest of festive Christmas cookies for a crunchy treat everyone will love, right down to the decorating.
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Whether ‘tis the season or you’re pining for some holiday nostalgia, these shortbread cookies are Christmas in biscuit form. Full of classic holiday flavour and spruced up like trees, they’re a fun treat to kick off the season of celebration any time of year. You can make these Christmas cookies as a gift for your loved ones or to fill up your own Christmas cookie jar in time for Santa Claus.
When we think of Christmas cookies, three different variations come to mind: Christmas sugar cookies, Christmas shortbread cookies, and Christmas gingerbread cookies. This recipe combines butter, sugar, two kinds of flour, and some mixed spice to create a simple shortbread – a seasonal essential.
This recipe works best when the butter is softened rather than fridge-cold. As a tip, leave your butter on the bench for a while to bring it up to room temperature before using. Then, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer until it’s light, soft, and fully combined. Put the remaining dry ingredients in a separate bowl and stir together. In multiple batches a bit at a time, add the dry ingredients to the mixer and beat well. Note that your dough will probably look a bit dry and have a crumbly texture – this is what you want.
Once all ingredients are combined, turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth, flouring your hands if necessary. The kneading process is what will help form the dough into a more workable shape. Once smooth, sandwich the dough between two sheets of baking paper and use a rolling pin to flatten. To keep your dough thickness consistent, don’t roll all the way to the edges as this will taper it. Leave the perimeter untouched; the edges of the dough will flatten as it is pushed out from the centre. When the dough sheet is about 5 millimetres thick, wrap it in plastic wrap, place on a tray, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm. This will make the cookies much easier to cut out.
While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 150°C. Baking on a lower heat will help the cookies retain enough softness to shatter easily whilst still providing the necessary colour and flakiness. While the oven preheats, line 2 baking trays with baking paper. After 30 minutes, remove the dough and unwrap. Using your cookie cutter, stamp the dough to create the tree shapes. Peel away the scraps to re-roll and cut until all the dough is used up. You can make freeform cookies from any leftover dough. Set the cookies on the baking trays, about 3 centimetres apart. To maximise space, try alternating the direction the cookies face (right-side up and upside-down). Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until light golden. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack (use a spatula to lift if needed). Allow the cookies to completely cool before icing or eating, otherwise they will be very fragile.
Royal icing is a fantastic choice for decorated Christmas cookies as it is easy to work with and sets into a hard, glossy topper that melts in the mouth. Before you jump into making the Christmas cookie icing, it's helpful to prepare all of your ingredients beforehand by putting them into separate bowls. This will help you stay organised.
Use pure icing sugar to make this royal icing, not icing sugar mixture. Pure icing sugar sets hard, which is perfect for decorating, whereas icing sugar mixture (which contains cornflour) doesn’t. To get the smoothest texture possible, it’s important to sift your pure icing sugar before use to remove any large lumps or granules.
To make the royal icing, start by whisking the egg white and lemon juice together in a medium-sized bowl. Gradually add the sifted icing sugar, stirring very well between batches, until a smooth paste has formed. Test the consistency by pulling a spatula or spoon through the mixture. If it holds its shape and moves very slowly, it’s ready to be divided into 5 portions.
Use the food colouring to tint 4 of these portions different shades of green (leave the last one plain). Start with a little and work up to the colour you want. Then divide the plain icing in half, reserving one portion to make the baubles. Decorating your Christmas cookies (or any iced dessert) is easiest with a piping bag. The best way to fill your piping bag is to place it tip-side down into a tall glass or container and fold the bag’s sides over the rim. This will allow you to spoon the icing in easily with very little mess. When you’re ready to pipe, roll the sides back up, and squeeze the icing down to the tip.
Now is the best time to get the kids (big or small) involved. Follow the piping instructions in the method above to achieve the best icing results. You can choose to be a bit creative and give each tree a different design, or keep them uniform. When all of the cookies are iced, set them aside for the icing to harden. Bring them out when you’re ready to celebrate, and enjoy sweet and crunchy homemade Christmas cookies.
For more easy Christmas cookie recipes, check out these adorable chocolate pudding biscuits or these chocolate and candy cane cookies. For something just as festive but a little less themed, have a go of these almond and cherry cookies.
Sugar cookies more your thing? Check out these Santa sugar cookies – the perfect treat for the big man himself.
If you wanted to make these Christmas tree cookies in gingerbread form, we’ve got a recipe for that! For more Christmas gingerbread ideas, check out this gingerbread man wreath, these gingerbread house biscuits, and this chocolate gingerbread.
Energy: 598kJ/143 Cals (7%)
Protein: 1g (2%)
Fat: 7g (10%)
Sat fat: 5g (21%)
Carb: 19g (6%)
Sugar: 11g (12%)
Fibre: 1g (3%)
Sodium: 56mg (3%)
From foodies and teachers to kids and pets, Coles has Christmas gifts sorted.
Sometimes the best gift is something delicious you've made yourself!
Try our decadent Coles Finest Luxury Orange & Chocolate Pudding.