Simply outstanding as both a Christmas centerpiece and treat, this beautiful creation produces a visual feast well suited to your holiday table.
In our trials of this recipe, we found the basic recipe produces a somewhat interesting but bland looking Christmas tree, so we continued our experimentation and added Jordan almonds we found in gold, silver, blue and green, as well as a generous sprinkling of silver Dragees. In fact, we made a gingerbread star cookie, slathering it lightly with royal icing and dipping it in the dragees to make a silver star to top our tree in place of the holly. The result was a much more attractive decoration.
- 1 1/2 Cups slivered almonds
- 3/4 Cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 Cup sugar
- 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Marmalade Icing:
- 3/4 Cup orange marmalade
- 1 pound sugar, powdered
- 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier or orange juice
- Constructed from baked biscotti dough, the cookie tree is an edible centerpiece.
- Place almonds in a 8 to 9 inch pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven, shaking often, until golden, about 15 minutes; cool.
- In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and orange peel until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
- Combine 4-1/2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, nutmeg and nuts; add to butter mixture and stir to blend thoroughly.
- Divide dough into 3 equal pieces.
- On a well-floured board, pat each piece into an evenly thick triangle that measures 9 inches across base, 2 inches across top and 12 inches on each side. Make edges neat by pressing with a ruler.
- Carefully transfer each triangle with wide spatulas to an oiled 12x15 inch baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes; triangles can wait for oven space.
- Remove from oven; cut crosswise (NOT diagonally) into slices exactly 5/8 inch wide, using a long knife. Tip slices onto a cut side.
- Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes; turn cookies over once while baking. Cool on racks. If made ahead, package airtight up until next day or freeze.
- To build the tree, pipe (using a 1/4 inch tip) or spread a little frosting on 1 side of each of the longest cookies. Lay icing-side down on a flat platter, tips touching, to form a triangle.
- Pipe or spread icing down center of each cookie on plate. Stack the 3 next-longest cookies on the first, inverting position of the triangle (looking down from the top, it will look like a Star of David).
- Build tree, using the next-smallest cookie trio for each level and cementing with icing. If you like, pipe icing to drip over the edge of the cookies.
- Decorate top with holly. Let guests lift off cookies to eat.
- If made ahead or to protect from dust, seal in plastic wrap; cookies stay fresh up to 4 days, depending on moisture in air. Kept longer, they hold their shape but get stale.
- Icing: Smoothly mix together 3/4 cup orange marmalade, 1 box (1 lb) or 4 cups sifted powder and 1 Tablespoon orange-flavor liqueur or orange juice. If icing thickens as you work, stir in a little more orange juice.
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