To make these adorable 3-D trees, you’ll need star-shaped cookie cutters in six different sizes, like this set from amazon. Be sure the cutouts are thoroughly chilled before going in the oven so they don’t spread too much while baking. We think Santa would enjoy these cookies, but they will also look great on the sideboard during the holidays.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon green food coloring gel, plus more if necessary to reach desired shade of green
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon whole milk
White Disco Dust, for topping (optional)
How to Make It
Beat unsalted butter with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer on medium speed until creamy. Gradually add 3⁄4 cup of the powdered sugar, beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low; add egg yolk, and beat just until blended. Add vanilla and food coloring gel; beat just until combined. Gradually add flour, beating until blended, about 1 minute.
Turn dough out onto a clean work surface. Divide dough in half, and pat each half into a 5-inch-wide disk. Wrap each dough disk in plastic wrap; chill 2 hours or up to 5 days.
Unwrap 1 dough disk, and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to about 3⁄16-inch thickness (between 1⁄8 inch and 1⁄4 inch thick). Repeat with second dough disk. Using each of 6 star-shaped cutters (1 inch, 1 1⁄4 inches, 1 1⁄2 inches, 2 inches, 2 1⁄4 inches, and 2 1⁄2 inches), cut 12 cookies of each size from dough. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets, grouping cookies of same size together. Chill cookies 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake cookies in batches in preheated oven until edges are very light golden and centers are pale, 8 to 10 minutes for smaller cookies and 10 to 12 minutes for larger cookies. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
Stir together remaining 3⁄4 cup powdered sugar and whole milk in a small bowl. Place icing in a piping bag or large ziplock plastic freezer bag with 1 corner cut to form a piping tip. Pipe icing in thin, decorative lines on edges of cooled cookies. Working with 1 cookie tree at a time, pipe a small amount of icing in the center of each cookie, and layer cookies in stacks of 6 with the largest cookie on bottom and smallest on top. Sprinkle trees with Disco Dust, if desired. Let stand until icing dries, about 10 minutes.