The Cookbook Challenge: Week 6 Christmas Recipe: No ginger gingerbread Christmas tree

by April@MyFoodTrail on December 27, 2009

in Baking, Biscuits/Cookies, Cookbook Challenge 2010, Recipes

Theme: Christmas
Cookbook: The Basics: A really useful cookbook by Anthony Telford

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas that was filled with a lot eating and merriment! We had a wonderful family Christmas day lunch with too much food as usual but everyone had a great time! It was our first year hosting the Christmas lunch, as it is our first Christmas in our current place. We used to stay in a tiny shoebox which tried to pass off as a one bedroom apartment, so Christmas, let alone any dinner parties, was never held at our place!

This week’s Cookbook Challenge theme was Christmas. It was a very broad theme which allowed for you to pretty much make anything you liked and give it a Christmas spin! A couple of weeks ago, I bought a set of 5 different sized star cookie cutters in anticipation for making a biscuit Christmas tree with them. The recipes for the Christmas tree I had seen online mostly use a gingerbread recipe, but the problem was, I don’t like gingerbread men/house/people!

I found a recipe for gingerbread people (non-sexist!) in “The Basics: A really useful Cookbook” by Anthony Telford. The book is actually very useful, but lacks any pictures except for the few tomatoes and the wooden spoon on the cover! This is a cookbook deal breaker for many people as they like to see beautiful photos of the food they are eating when they purchase a cookbook, but I liked it for the helpful “hints & tips” section after every recipe and the 96 page reference section at the back with useful information on ingredients.

I was thinking since I didn’t like the ginger spices but didn’t mind cinnamon too much, I would keep the cinnamon but replace all other spices with cocoa. This worked out surprisingly well and the cookies still tasted rather like gingerbread.

I made the star shaped cookies for the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve and then assembled it on Christmas Day to display during our lunch. You are supposed to glue the individual layers of the Christmas tree with royal icing, but I didn’t bother so that people could pick off the cookie layers to eat during the day. For that reason, I also didn’t bother to decorate it beyond a dusting of icing sugar and I think it turned out quite well!

I only used 3 different sized star cutters and used 4 stars of each size to assemble the tree. They sit well on top of each other without the need to hold them into place with royal icing. If you would like a larger tree, use more different sized cutters.


No ginger gingerbread Christmas tree

450g self raising flour
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp cocoa
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g soft brown sugar
1 large egg
160ml molasses (I used golden syrup but you could also use treacle)

1. Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon and cocoa into a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and molasses (golden syrup) and beat until well combined.

After creaming & adding egg & golden syrup

3. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the flour mixture, working until thoroughly mixed.

The cookie dough

4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

6. Lightly flour the work surface, cut the dough into half and roll out to 6-7mm thick. Using 3 different shaped star cutters, cut equal amounts of each shape from the dough. With a flat spatula or egg flip, lift the stars onto the baking tray placing a few centimetres apart.

7. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until the edges are just starting to colour and they are firm to touch.

Cookies straight out of the oven

8. Remove from oven and cool on baking trays for about 2 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

9. Assemble the stars on a plate, starting with 4 of the largest size on the bottom. Arrange the stars so the pointed ends are always in between the star below. Continue with 4 of the medium size and then finish with 4 of the smallest size to complete one tree. Repeat with remaining trees.

10. Dust over tree with icing sugar. You can also dust over individual star when warm before assembling and then dust again all over.

Christmas tree is assembled & dusted with icing sugar

Results: The cookies had a nice dark colour like gingerbread are supposed to and smelt a lot like gingerbread because of the golden syrup and cinnamon. The cookies turned out a bit harder than I was expecting but that was probably because they were in the oven too long. They also weren’t that sweet so make sure you dust them with icing sugar. I didn’t mind the cookies but hubby didn’t really like them and we gave most of it away to family to take home, which they were happy to take. I think the taste would appeal to people who like gingerbread cookies but want a muted down flavour (ie. no ginger!).

Would I make them again? The Christmas tree was impressive so I would definitely try the star cutters again but as hubby didn’t like the cookies, I might use a different recipe.

Over & Out, Rilsta xx

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

mademoiselle délicieuse December 27, 2009 at 2:00 pm

Merry Christmas, Rilsta! Definitely one of the simpler Christmas treats I've seen around =) And, I don't really like gingerbread either!


Agnes December 27, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Very cute tree – good idea about leaving out the gingerbread type spices and substituting with cocoa.

Happy to hear that you had a great Christmas! 🙂


Ellie December 27, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Merry Christmas and happy new year Rilsta! Cute cute tree! Love the snow like sprinkle of icing sugar 🙂


Cherrie Pie December 27, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Love the tree and like you, I also don't eat gingerbread. Glad to hear you had a great Christmas


Vee - A Melbourne Munchkin. December 28, 2009 at 11:16 am

Oh cool I love those stars, I've always wondered whether I could use interestingly-shaped cutters for unorthodox uses – star-shaped mini scones or example!

Oh and I finally took part in the Christmas leg of the Cookbook Challenge! Now looking at your photos I really wished I'd put icing sugar on my chocolate fondants, they would've looked so nice and Xmassyy


What's For Tea? December 28, 2009 at 11:34 am

That looks absolutely gorgeous! What a great idea 🙂


Thermomixer December 28, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Well done with those trees. Shame you didn't get the texture to suit hubby – maybe they'll soften a bit with keeping?

Hope you had a good Christmas and all the best for 2010.


Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 29, 2009 at 1:18 am

Rilsta that first photo is just too cool! Damn!


Jo December 29, 2009 at 8:42 am

Geez this looks fantastic… great job.

I have posted mince pies for my week 6 entry.. it's my mam's recipe so no cookbook used – sorry!


SomethingByKate December 29, 2009 at 11:00 am

It's beautiful Rilsta. I'm one of those people who likes pictures of each recipe in a book, which is why I like the food magazines so much, but if you're looking for something specific it is great to have a good reference book. I might check this one out.


penny aka jeroxie December 29, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Lovely! Nice and simple. Just the way I like it.


Julia @Mélanger December 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm

That is just such a gorgeous idea. Such a cute little 'tree'.


Mrs Multitasker January 2, 2010 at 12:41 am

That is a BEAUTIFUL picture. Love it =)
And really good that you used golden syrup, which I find super yummy. I made my gingerbread men with molasses this year and I've decided I'm just not a big fan of molasses at all….


Anita January 2, 2010 at 9:57 am

What a cute tree! Sometimes I think the ginger is a bit overpowering in gingerbread cookies. I think these would have been awesome.
Happy New Year Rilsta.


Towz January 4, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Awesome photo at the top there, very pro! Happy New Year for 2010 and wishing the year brings you many more recipes to try. Or at least the time to do so!


Rilsta January 4, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Hi mademoiselle délicieuse: Merry Christmas to you too! 🙂 This recipe is definitely simpler compared to the Daring Bakers challenge of the gingerbread house!

Hi Agnes: Thanks! The cocoa worked a treat.

Hi Ellie: Same to you and thanks! 🙂

Hi Cherrie: Thanks! Hope you had a great Christmas too!

Hi Vee: Ooh, star scones! I say go for it! The cookie cutters can be used for anything you put your imagination to! 🙂 Are you joining the Cookbook Challenge now?

Hi What's for tea: Thanks so much! 🙂

Hi Thermomixer: They did soften up a bit after a few days. Wishing you all the best for 2010 as well!

Hi Conor: Thanks! I just had to use the Christmas lights some how! 🙂

Hi Jo: Thanks! I will add you to the list!

Hi Kate: The cookbook doesn't have any pretty pictures, but it has practical tips which I find helpful!

Hi Penny: Thanks! 🙂

Hi Julia: Thanks! 🙂

Hi Mrs Multitasker: Thank you! I have never used molasses but heard that it is not very nice and I had an opened bottle of golden syrup so I used that instead!

Hi Anita: Happy New year to you too! The cookies actually tasted a bit like gingerbread because of the cinnamon and golden syrup, but without the overpowering spices!


Rilsta January 4, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Hi Towz: Thanks so much!! Hope you had a fabulous new year too and all the best for the coming year! 🙂


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