These adorable Gingerbread Tree Cookies are super easy to make, kid-friendly and fun to bake! Perfect for Christmas and Santa! (Jump directly to the recipe.)
True confession time. I was once approached by a television production company to compete in a holiday cookie competition show. I’m kind of glad it didn’t work out for a number of reason. But the main one is that I’m not the best at decorating cookies. I was pretty up front about that with them, and perhaps that’s why they didn’t pick me for the show. Or maybe there was another reason. I don’t know. It’s always a mystery as to why you do or don’t get picked. I’ve been down the TV road before and it always ends with “we’ve gone another direction” which is just as well.
But here’s the thing. I have friends who make beautiful cakes, gorgeous cookies and stunning pies. They do amazing things with dough that looks like works of art. And I have incredible respect for those folks. But I am both lazy AND impatient, which is not a good combination when it comes to decorating baked goods.
So when I stumbled across the idea of a gingerbread Christmas tree decorated with M&M chocolate buttons as ornaments, I was all “I can do that!” immediately. The cookies come out super cute and aren’t labor intensive. They do require a bit of waiting because the dough has to chill. But the dough is not only easy to make but also fairly forgivable. I can re-roll the scraps as many times as I want. And I can use my more fancy pants Christmas tree cookie cutter on the dough, a cutter that might be more problematic with a more delicate dough.
And, just to prove how easy these cookies are to make, I also made a little how-to video demonstrating the video (with music courtesy of the San Francisco band Wooden Shjips). Because why not? Happy Holidays folks! I hope your December is going well.
Gingerbread Christmas Tree Cookies
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter 170 g or 1 1/2 sticks
- 1 cup packed brown sugar 220 g
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap) 230 g
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 cups all-purpose flour 560 g
- 10 ounces M&M candies 1 small bag
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream together until the sugar clings to the side of the bowl about 2 minutes.
Add the egg and molasses and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the spices, salt and baking soda. Mix to incorporate and scraped down the side of the bowl again.
Add the flour and slowly mix until the dry ingredients are absorbed, then increase the speed until the dough forms and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 2 minutes. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and dump the dough onto the middle of the plastic wrap. Flatten the dough until it is 1-inch thick and then tightly wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Once the dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicon baking sheet or parchment paper. Dust a clean surface with flour then roll out about half the dough until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Dip a cookie cutter in flour, then cut out cookie from the dough. Move cookie to the prepared baking sheet then repeat until the baking sheet is full of cookies, making sure the cookies are 1 inch apart.
Remove any flour on the edges of the cookie with a soft pastry brush. Press M&M candies into the Christmas cookie. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges and top of the cookie look dry and the edges are stiff. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minute before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Gather any scraps and massage together, then re-roll on a clean surface, dusting above and below the cookie dough with flour if it starts to stick. Once you’ve finished with the first half of the dough, repeat with the remaining dough.