Before I start this post, I want to apologise to my Dad. Dad, I know that this is fifth sweet recipe I’ve posted in a row. I know you like to see a balance here, but I’m sorry to tell you that the next few posts will also contain sweet recipes. It’s just the way it’s got to be in the lead-up to Christmas. Please don’t judge me, Dad!
And now onto gingerbread. Who likes gingerbread? Meeeeeee! I love it. I can’t understand why it’s just a Christmas/winter thing. I think it should be ‘in’ all year round. Along with raspberries and passionfruit and mulled wine. “These are a few of my favourite things…”
This Gingerbread Christmas Tree is THE absolute most perfect thing for you to make right now. And then again in about two weeks, so you can have it as the centrepiece of your Christmas meal. The best part is that you can make this a few days before Christmas and you have one thing ticked off your list for the big day. Stress-free dessert right here.
Make dough, cut out stars, bake, assemble, admire, then dig in! The biscuits are full of ginger and are cooked so they have the perfect amount of crunch. Because we don’t want a collapsing Christmas tree, do we? Stack them nice and neat and stick them together with edible glue, i.e. royal icing. Decorate with green and red M&M’s and fake snow. My decorating skills are a bit sub-par, so try to do a better job than me with the fake snow!
Gingerbread Christmas Tree
Prep Time: 1 hour + 1 hour 30 minutes for cooling, chilling, and setting
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
¾ cup tightly packed brown sugar
¼ cup golden syrup
3 cups plain flour
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 egg white
1½ cups icing sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
Red and green M&M’s or M&M’s Minis, to decorate (70 in total, plus a yellow one for the top)
NOTE: You will need 8 different sized star-shaped cookie cutters or paper templates. I used the following sized cookie cutters: 16cm, 14cm, 12cm, 10.5cm, 9cm, 7.5cm, 6cm and 4.5cm
- Add butter, brown sugar and golden syrup to a medium saucepan over medium heat, and stir until butter has melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, sift flour, bicarb soda and ginger. Make a well in the centre and pour in cooled butter mixture. Use a wooden spoon to combine, then use your hands to knead a few times until dough has formed. Divide dough in half, wrap each half in cling film and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
- Remove one half of the dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, knead for 2 or 3 minutes to soften. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out to a 3-4 mm thickness. Use the cookie cutters to cut two of each sized star. You will find the dough will crack and feel quite dry. Only use the cookie cutters on sections that have not cracked, then gather the scraps and re-roll the dough to cut more stars out. Place stars on prepared baking trays and refrigerate for 5-10 minutes. Remove from fridge and bake for 12 minutes for the smaller sized stars or 15 minutes for the larger stars. Allow cookies to cool on tray for 5 minutes, before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Remove remaining dough from the fridge and repeat step 4 with remaining cookie cutters. You will have 16 stars in total.
- Once cookies have cooled completely, prepare royal icing. In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until foamy. Gradually add icing sugar, whisking continuously. Stir in lemon juice, one teaspoon at a time.
- To prepare Christmas tree, use a piping bag or a knife to spread icing onto the centre of one of the largest stars. Place the same sized star on top, turning it slightly, so that the tips point at a different angle to the first star. Repeat with remaining stars in decreasing order of size, except for the smallest two. For the two smallest stars, spread icing on the back of one and press them together like a sandwich. Spread some icing on the top of the tree, and position the small star sandwich standing up on top.
- Spread a drop of icing on each star tip and add a M&M, alternating between red and green. On the top of the smallest star, add a large drop of icing and position a yellow M&M on top. Drizzle remaining icing over tree to create snow effect. Allow to set for 10 minutes before moving tree.
Note: One half of the dough should be enough for the three largest sized stars (two of each, six in total), and the other half should be enough for the five smaller sized stars (two of each, ten in total). There will be enough dough leftover to make a few extra small stars to spare.
Recipe adapted from BBC.