Its beginning to smell alot like Christmas

Tomorrow bright and early we go a-visiting. Rainbow Lane is packed with lovely neighbours, lots of kidlets including a couple of new babies and Tuesdays mornings are for playdates. While we wait for the smell of our fresh Christmas Tree to permeate every corner of our home we thought we’d get started with a little gingerbread baking in the oven to take along with us. Time to complete our Star Cookie Stacks!

Lets Roll.

Gather your ingredients and mix as follows for one batch of cookies that will yield you 10 – 12 star trees

Sift into a large (like really large, we used a pasta pot):

6 cups plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarb soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

And now into an electric mixer place:

150g unsalted butter

1 cup hard packed brown sugar

Mix until nice and fluffy before adding:

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt flakes

3 eggs

1 ¼ cup treacle

Mix on low until well combined then add wet ingredients to flour. If you have a spanking great Kenwood feel free to combine everything in that and crank it, if like me you are wishing and waiting for one then mix by hand until just combined. If you find your dough too dry just add a little more treacle.

Divide dough into 3 nice fat balls, wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate until cold. At this stage I freeze the balls until I need them and defrost in the fridge overnight. But if you are raring to go, simply place in the fridge for about an hour while you pour yourself a nice cool drink. With the oven on in this heat you’re gonna need it.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Lightly flour your bench and roll out your pastry ball until 1/3 cm thick. Using your star cookie cutters show your littles how to cut different sized stars then place onto baking trays which you have sprayed with non stick and lined with paper. How festive!

Pop your larger stars into the oven for 10 minutes and your little stars in at the 7 minute mark. You want them just brown and fragrant. Doesn’t the house smell fabulous! You will find if, like us your kitchen window faces the street your neighbours suddenly popping by for a chat. A good opportunity to pass the still warm cookies out the window for taste testing.

Allow your cookies to cool completely before starting the next step. You could store them in an airtight container where I’ve heard it said that they can last two weeks or so though not at my place. It would then be a simple matter of icing as needed. How Martha Stewart of you!

To make the royal icing needed to glue your stars together, you will want to wash and reuse your electric mixer. I know, how tiresome. Must be done.

Beat 2 large egg whites until white but not too stiff. Can one say semi stiff? No I agree, not really. Add icing sugar spoonful by spoonful along with half a lemon’s juice. Your consistency should be quite runny but completely white and glossy. When I do this I make small amounts at a time. Usually just one egg white’s worth as I create the star trees over the entire month of December. I don’t like the idea of keeping the icing in the fridge so I make as needed.

Make a quick piping bag by folding a triangle of baking paper over three times and opening slightly. Fill with the icing mixture, fold over the top and nip off the end with scissors. Place a dab of icing (glue) onto the centre of your cardboard squares before placing your largest stars on top. Continue dabbing the icing before placing another star on top from large to small until all the cookies are used. Ensure you twist your stars and place at different angles to create your tree shape.

Cover your icing with clingwrap and place in the fridge until your trees are stuck fast. Add a little lemon juice to your icing if it starts to set in the bowl but it should be fine. Make another piping bag and squeeze droplets over the trees like fallen snow. Sprinkle with mini m&ms or silver balls to resemble coloured lights. Again leave to dry before dusting lightly with icing sugar.

Cut large squares of cellophane and wrap your trees from the bottom up tying with ribbon. Your gifts are complete and look amazing don’t they! Ari likes to leave one out for Santa along with a crisp glass of desert wine. To date there has never been a crumb left behind.


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