Woodland-Inspired Sugar Cookies to Make Any Holiday Tray More Eye-Catching

December 10th, 2015

We’re celebrating Day 4 of our 12 Days of Christmas Cookies with classic sugar cookies decorated in the most unexpected way. These woodland-inspired treats are sure to make a splash at any holiday cookie swap.

Woodland Sugar Cookies

Yield: 15 cookies
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours


For the cookies
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, softened
1/2 cup unbleached sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

For the icing
2 pounds powdered sugar
5 pasteurized egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Water, as needed
Natural food dye packets in red, yellow, and blue


Make the cookies

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat for 6 to 8 minutes to cream the butter and the sugar. It should be pale in color and creamy. Add in the egg, vanilla, and almond extracts. Beat for 2 to 3 minutes to combine. Add in flour and beat until just incorporated and the mixture comes together to form a dough.

Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper to a 1/4-inch thickness. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour until firm.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Remove dough from oven and cut cookies out using mushroom, leaf, or tree cookie cutters. Place on baking trays and bake in oven 7 to 9 minutes until edges start to become golden. Allow to cool.

Make the icing

For the icing, place the powdered sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar in the bowl of the stand mixer and whip on high for 5 minutes until frosting has gone from gray to pure white in color, becomes fluffy, and stiffens. Divide into separate bowls and color with dye as needed.


Use the thick icing to pipe around the edges of cookies in a piping bag fitted with a fine-tip nozzle. Stir water into colored icings, a tablespoon at a time, to create a slightly thinner consistency to fill in the color on each cookie. Let icing dry completely between layers, and let cookies dry and set completely before stacking on top of each other or serving.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Merce MuseThrive Market Food Editor

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