3-D Christmas Tree Cookies

3-D Christmas Tree Cookies

Scarlett and I had a disagreement about what holiday baking favorite we should shoot at a recent photo shoot. I was convinced we should photograph my cranberry and orange hand pies while she insisted everyone would rather our 3-D Christmas tree cookies. I told her she was crazy. Who needs another Christmas tree cookie recipe? (Ok, I do but I love my heart shaped hand pies.) But she persisted, so I said, “I have an idea. Let’s do a poll on Instagram?” With a smirk, she said,”Ok, let’s do it. You’ll see I’m right.”

Instantly the votes stacked for the tree cookies. A few votes dripped in for the hand pies but every time we checked the poll, the spread between the two widened. The “I told you so’s” also mounted as the day went on, so I finally thanked my mini-chef for her expertise. She had been right. So, to all our voters and cookie lovers, thank you for voting. Here are your cookies….

Photos by Ashley van der Laan

I used Martha Stewart’s Basic Sugar Cookie recipe because there is no better. These cookies are sweet but not too sweet and so delicious they don’t even need to be iced. (Although why would you skip that part?!)

3-D Christmas Tree Cookies

Yield: about 15 to 18 cookies


  • For the sugar cookies:
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the buttercream icing:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 3 drops of green gel food coloring
  • Assorted sprinkles, silver dragees and crushed candy cane


For the sugar cookies:

In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a resealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed. Make three sizes of discs using a 2.34 diameter cookie cutter, 3.15 diameter cookie cutter and 3.93 diameter cookie cutter. Place each size cookie on their own baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake the largest cookies until the centers look cooked, about 6 to 7 minutes. Bake medium cookies about 5 minutes and the smallest cookies about 3 to 4 minutes. When cookies are done, remove them from the oven and let cool 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a cookie rack to finish cooling.

Make the buttercream as per method below. Scoop frosting into a piping bag fitted with a medium sized piping tip. Alternately, you could use a large plastic storage bag. Seal it closed and then press all the frosting into the bottom portion of the bag. Clip off a small portion of one corner of the bag to pipe frosting through.

Assemble the cookies by piping a swirl of frosting onto the largest cookie, then add the second medium sized cookie on top. Pipe a swirl of frosting on to the second cookie, then top with the smallest cookie. Pipe a swirl on top of the smallest and decorate. Continue building cookies, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the buttercream:

In large bowl with an electric mixer or using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

Add 4 cups sifted powdered sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Gradually add 2 tablespoons of milk; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.


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