Categories
Cookies Frosting Holidays Recipes

Nested Star Sugar Cookie Tree

Who doesn't love Christmas cookie season? I know I sure do. One cookie I cannot do without, is my sugar cookie cut outs with a secret ingredient! These seriously are so delicious, you won't be able to go back to your old sugar cookie cut out recipe. These not only hold their shape, but they simplify the most delicious sugar cookie you will ever eat! I have to pace myself with these! Not only do I have to bake and decorate my famous sugar cookies cutouts, I have to make the SHOW STOPPER! My stacked star sugar cookie TREE! It is simply stunning. SO elegant. I make a couple and add them to our Christmas feasts on Christmas Eve or our Christmas Kick Off party, and them munch on until it is gone. It goes fast!

I’ve wanted to try my hand at royal icing decorated cookies…aren’t there some stunning designs out there? I have always hesitated and I am not one to hesitate because I am scared of “failing”…if I hesitate, it’s because something just doesn’t jive…something just doesn’t fit…something is off…and then it hit me. I don’t make anything I personally will NOT absolutely go to food nirvana for. Royal icing just doesn’t tantalize my taste buds. I’m not into cookies that just look cute, I want to go to dessert 7th heaven so the calories, and what I gotta do to burn them off, is worth it!

Once you have a sugar cookie recipe that knocks people’s socks off–and trust me, you will get loads of people asking for the recipe, because the secret ingredient will set these sugar cookies light years apart of all the rest–the fun becomes how many different ways can you decorate them with buttercream. I feel like buttercream gets a bad rap with regards to sugar cookie decorating since all the gorgeous royal icing decorated cookies hit Instagram. Don’t get me wrong, they are stunning! 

Sugar Cookie Cut Out Tree

Each sugar cookie tree takes a little less than one recipe of my sugar cookie dough, recipe at the bottom. I love to make an impact with these on my dessert table for our holiday feast. I got this nested star Christmas Tree cookie cutter set from Crate and Barrel back in the day, but they don’t have them anymore. I wanted to make sure I had some to gift so I searched high and low. I found out Wilton has a set sold at Joann Fabrics. 

I always bake my cookies on parchment paper. It makes for easy cleaning and removal of the cookies when cooled enough. I also pipe the frosting and add sprinkles on each star layer before adding the next star. I find it makes for a more even design and I can get everything in every nook and cranny. It just looks more polished in the end. I used red, dark green, light green, and white nonpareils. I am obsessed with having at least two shades of green. I cannot just have one. My husband calls me particular. The nerve. Hahaha! So true, and I own it. I also used white (clear?) sparkling sugar, and dark green sanding sugar to sprinkle on each layer. I love the added sparkle and texture it gives. 

I also visually align the next star so the points are centered above the star below before placing. The second to last star I pipe a mound for the last star to stand upright like a tree topper. This time I did add gold star sprinkles all over after it was all assembled. 

How stunning did this turn out? I am in LOVE. I used this Cooked Frosting my mom passed down to me. I have also  cream cheese frosting (found at the bottom of the page). The cookie recipe is below. How are you planning to decorate your Christmas sugar cookies?

The Last Sugar Cookie Recipe You Will Ever Need

Are you tired of boring, almost bland sugar cookies? Don’t even enjoy sugar cookies because they are almost like sweet cardboard? NOT these sugar cookies! There’s a slight tang from cream cheese, flavors pop with vanilla and almond extract, sweet and salty bring the best balance, and the secret ingredient: BROWNED BUTTER.  You cannot go wrong with these cookies. I like mine with a crisp edge, and an aldente but not quite soft texture. 

3/4 c. browned butter (1 1/2 sticks)

1/2 c. cream cheese (1/2 of a 8 oz pkg)

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. almond extract

2 tsp. salt

4 c. flour (reserve one cup as needed)

1) In a sauce pan on med heat, brown your butter. Watch the butter as it starts to froth up, and stir as needed. You will notice the froth will go down, and then start frothing again. By the 2nd froth/bubbling I have found this is about the time you want to stop browning the butter. Take the butter off the stove as you smell the nutty richness. Chill the browned butter until solid.

2) Let the browned butter and the cream cheese come up to room temperature. 

3) Cream the browned butter, cream cheese, and sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer, or using a hand held mixer in a large bowl. You will see the color turn light and the mix becomes fluffy. 

4) Add the egg, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Scrap down the sides with a silicone spatula. 

5) Add 3 cups of flour and mix. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining flour in 1/4 cup increments as needed. You know the dough is ready when it comes to a ball and is clean away from the side of the bowl. Depending on the humidity and elevation, you will need to be vigilant in how much flour you add, and may not need the extra full cup. The dough is pretty stiff, but not crumbly to where the flour is not incorporated. 

6) Split the dough into two equal parts. Wrap each dough section in cling wrap. Flatten into a rectangle, and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, overnight if necessary. An alternative step at this point(or just intentionally make a double or triple batch), if you choose to make frozen dough disks (I use an ice cream scoop and flatten the round dough to a puck shape, line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper, freeze on a cookie sheet, then place the pucks in a freezer safe ziploc bag to keep frozen sugar cookie dough on hand for in a pinch cookie hankerings–you can bake frozen, just watch the cookies because they may need extra time being baked from a frozen state).

7) When you are ready to roll out, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to let the dough warm up a bit on the counter, especially if it has been chilling overnight. 

8) Lightly flour the surface, then roll out your dough to 3/8 inch for thick cookies. If you prefer thinner cookies, adjust the bake time down. Cut out your dough, and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Space them at least a half inch apart. The cookies should not spread. If you want to sprinkle sanding sugar on the cookies and not frost them, do so before baking them. These are great cookies to eat without frosting, but I have an even better recipe for sugar cookies if you just want sanding sugar on them, but these work as well. 

9) Bake for 9-11 min. If your cookies are thinner or small cut out, watch them at 7-9 min. A perfectly baked cookie will show golden patches on the bottom, but not dark brown or worse.  Rest on the cookie sheet until cooled enough to move the parchment without damaging the cookies, and cool on a counter off the hot cookie sheet, or in a airtight container. If your first batch of cookies does not have the wonderfully crackled look on top, knead the rest of the dough before rolling out and baking. 

10) Completely cool before frosting. Check out my Cooked Frosting, which I think beats any butter cream frosting on these cookies hands down!

Check out these holiday sugar cookies I have made with this recipe. I love to use my Cooked Frosting as well as my cream cheese buttercream on these. I also love to stripe fruit fillings to add another dimension of flavor and color. I love how all of these cookies turned out! Not only are they adorable, but they are so delicious! I hope I can convince you how cute buttercream decorated cookies are.

Categories
Cakes Home Recipes

“Love is Sweet” Cake

 

The first time I saw this humongous heart shape lollipop, an image of an over-the-top “Love is Sweet” candy cake for Valentine’s Day popped vividly in my head. I KNEW this would be a hit to celebrate Valentines with kids. I also knew this was so delicious that the adults would enjoy it even more than the kids! The family that this cake went too said the kids went crazy over it and that the parents initially didn’t think they would be able to enjoy it because it looked too sweet…that is until they took a bite! “Five stars and two thumbs up! Everyone loved every aspect of it. My wife and I loved the flavor of it as well!”

 

Five stars and two thumbs up! Everyone loved every aspect of it. My wife and I loved the flavor of it as well!

DC Swanson

Dad and CFO of the Swanson Crew

Isn’t this every kid’s and adult kid’s dream?!!???! Oh, and the cotton cady was so good too. The cotton candy I used in this cake are not available anymore, but I have used this one here, glitter to top the cotton candy here, limited edition sprinkles here, the lollipop from Dylan’s, and I used these Sweet & Sour Conversation Hearts that I had never seen before this year’s Valentine’s season. I am OBSESSED with sour candy, so these were perfect, and so good. I had to have some as I was decorating this cake! I also used the cake recipe and Razzleberry filling from this post. You can learn how to marble the cake layers here as well.

Let’s talk cream cheese frosting for a second. Personally, I cannot handle sickeningly sweet frosting, and I want my frosting to add to the flavor of the cake as a whole. Besides this cooked frosting, I use cream cheese frosting on my cakes and cookies. The problem with most cream cheese frostings are that they cannot be piped and will NOT hold their shape. When I was planning my wedding cake pictured to the right, I was on the hunt for a cream cheese frosting that holds up to decorating or piping. I looked high and low. finally I found this one, a crusting buttercream. I found it to be easy to pipe and decorate my cakes. Of course I tweaked the recipe to create a truly custom gourmet cream cheese flavor that is out of this world so tasty, AND that is perfect to pipe and decorate any cake. May I present my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting!  

Check out the piping details, texture details, and edible black cake lace in the pics below.

This frosting holds any piping beautifully! If you are used to traditional cream cheese frostings, then you know what I mean when I say those recipes are great for a bunt cake or slathered on frosting BUT IN NO WAY would it hold up being piped or used to decorate a cake, cupcake, or cookies.

The wedding cake I used the crusting decorator’s cream cheese buttercream, and the other two cakes I used my Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting. The recipe is posted below. I wanted to demonstrate the versatility of this frosting, and give you an idea why it is my go-to cream cheese frosting recipe. I also use it to make a frosting that is half and half with Cooked Frosting, as well as add fruit filling to stripe and flavor different variations of this frostings, which I use on my The Last Sugar Cookie Cut-Out Recipe You will Ever Need cookies. For this cake, I used this White Chocolate Razzleberry Cake recipe, and I used my cream cheese frosting recipe to fill and frost (at the bottom of this page).  I literally cannot get myself to use any other base frostings that these two: Cooked Frosting, and The Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting (recipe below).  I build all other flavors from these, and have a blast coming up with different variations. 

Perfect Ratio Dreamy Cream Cheese Frosting

Have you been looking for a cream cheese frosting you can also pipe and stable enough to fill a cake? Do you not only want the flavor of cream cheese frosting, but the flexibility to design and pipe a gorgeous cake? Did you think you could have a cream cheese frosting that tastes better than you could imagine? Then this recipe of the perfect fit for you. The salt brings out the flavor and balances the sweetness in this frosting. The last thing you want is sickeningly sweet frosting to take away from your cake masterpiece. You do not want to miss the secret ingredients that add a dimension of flavor to your cream cheese buttercream that makes it out of this world memorable! This makes a great base frosting to customize with fruit fillings, or mix with Cooked Frosting.  Really, there is no limit what you can do with this frosting. 

1 c salted butter (2 sticks), room temperature

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

1 tsp salt

2+ T butter powder 

2+ T cream cheese powder, to taste

 

1 T vanilla (clear vanilla for a whiter frosting)

1 tsp Creme bouquet Flavor

5 c powder sugar

*NOTE: If I want to turn this into a crusting frosting, I will omit 1/2 stick of butter, and use white shortening, and add 1 c of powder sugar 

 

1) Cream the butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer, or large bowl with a hand mixer until creamy and fluffy.
2) Add the remaining ingredients except for the power sugar, and miz untilevenly incorporated.
3)Add the powder sugar in 1 c increments with the mixer off, scraping in between with a silicone spatula until the right consistency is reached. 
4) To pipe, use right away. If you need to store the frosting, put in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator; just know if you plan to pipe from a chilled state, I recommend letting it come up to room temperature and beat with a hand mixer or a stand mixer to keep fluffy before piping.