These one-bowl, no-mixer Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies are delicious and the pretty decorating technique is super simple!
Are you ready for one more fun Christmas cookie idea? I was in the middle of rolling and cutting out my Easy Decorated Christmas Cookies when the inspiration for these Christmas Tree Shortbread Cookies came flitting through my brain. I was so excited that, right away, I had to pull out a Christmas tree cookie cutter and some green food coloring to give the idea a try. When I showed my swirly little trees to Scott, he loved them and thought each one was a work of art. I thought you might enjoy making (and giving) these easy cookies too!
I searched for years for the perfect shortbread recipe. I wanted one that was not only buttery and melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but also one that would keep nice crisp edges when baked. I discarded one recipe after another until I discovered this one. Just the right proportion of butter, sugar and flour, as well as a small amount of cornstarch, are a few of the secrets to this delicious shortbread dough that keeps its shape in the oven.
For the cookies:
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 8 ounces very soft butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
For the glaze:
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 colors of green gel paste food coloring
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4-5 tablespoons half and half (or milk)
For the cookies:
- Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place soft butter in a medium-size mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula until nice and smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Mix together by hand for about 30 seconds until well blended.
- Add the flour and cornstarch. Stir until dry ingredients are incorporated. The dough will be a little shaggy. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a ball.
- Knead 5-6 times until fairly smooth and all the small pieces are worked in. Form into a ball again and flatten with your hand to form a flat disk. Turn the disk to coat both sides with flour.
- Roll out the dough to an approximate 3/8-inch thickness (see Café Tips above in the post). Keep work surface, dough and rolling pin lightly dusted with flour. Cut out Christmas trees (in one or more sizes) and transfer to prepared pans with a thin, metal spatula. Re-roll scraps as many times as needed to use up the dough.
- Place cutouts in the refrigerator for at least one hour or up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350˚F. Remove 1 pan of cutouts from the refrigerator and bake for 12-14 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden at the edges. Rotate pans halfway through for even browning. Repeat with the second pan of cutouts.
- Cool completely before icing.
For the glaze:
- Combine powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons half and half (or milk), vanilla and peppermint extract in a medium-size bowl. Mix until smooth. The glaze should be fairly thick, but pourable. Add a little more half and half if too thick. Taste the glaze and add more extract, if a more intense flavor is desired.
- Transfer the glaze to a small shallow bowl (a little bigger than your cookies). With a toothpick, swirl a small amount of two green gel food colorings through the icing in the bowl. Don’t swirl too much or the icing will become a solid color. Use a light hand with the gel food coloring. A little goes a long way!
- To glaze the cookies, hold onto the edge of a cookie and dip the top surface into the glaze, being sure all of the surface touches the glaze. Pull cookie straight up and out of the glaze. Allow excess glaze to drip into another bowl or plate (this will keep the glaze from getting murky) for about 30 seconds. When glaze stops dripping, quickly flip the cookie to the right side up and give it a gentle jiggle to allow the glaze to flow evenly over the surface. Repeat with remaining cookies.