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A Christmas Cookie tree on a white cake stand.

Cookie Tree

A decadent treat made from sugar cookies and buttercream!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 160kcal



  • 1.5 cups unsalted butter 339g, Room temp
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar 300g
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour 720g
  • 1 cup cornstarch 125g
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt 7g
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract 15mL

For the Buttercream:

  • 1 tbsp vanilla 15mL
  • 1 lb confectioner's sugar 454g
  • 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature 225g
  • 3 tbsp heavy whipping cream 45mL, add as needed

For the Assembly:

  • ½ cup confectioners sugar 60g
  • 1 tbsp whole milk 15mL
  • 4 inch sheet edible of gold leaf
  • Paint brush medium


For the Cookies:

  • Preheat to 375F.
  • Cream butter and sugar together.
  • Add eggs one at a time then the vanilla extract while mixing on low, scrape the bowl down.
  • On low, mix in flour, cornstarch and salt.
  • Separate dough into two parts. Wrap in plastic and chill for about an hour. 
  • Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper.
  • Roll to between ½ and 1/4 inch thickness.
  • With a cookie cutter, cut out star shapes.
    Cookie Tree
  • Place stars on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool on their baking sheet until room temperature.

For the Buttercream:

  • Cream the butter If you're using a stand mixer you'll want the paddle attachment for this part.
  • Sift in half the confectioner’s sugar and mix on low. Scrape the bowl down and sift in the remaining sugar then mix once more.
  • Add the vanilla and then the cream a tablespoon at a time. Beat until you have an even, fluffy consistency. Mix in food coloring until you have the desired color.
  • Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a size 30 star tip.

For the Assembly:

  • Use the buttercream as glue between each layer.
    Cookie Tree
  • Start by piping buttercream to the bottom of a medium sized star.
  • Place star in the middle of a cake stand and press.
    Cookie Tree
  • Alternate sizes between small and large stars to create a layered look to ascends into a tree. Save a small star for the tree topper.
  • Once you’re finished stacking, pipe buttercream onto each branch.
    Cookie Tree
  • Add ornament decorations. I used Christmas color chocolate balls to decorate with. Dust with powdered sugar for a snowy effect.
    Cookie Tree

For the Star:

  • Mix milk and powdered sugar together to create a glaze.
  • Paint the glaze onto the cookie using a paintbrush.
  • Place a sheet of gold leaf over the the cookie.
    Cookie Tree
  • Flatten with brush and smooth out.
  • Pipe buttercream to the top star.
    Cookie Tree
  • Place gold star as the tree topper.



  • The dough only needs to be chilled for about 20-30 minutes. Just until it's firm enough to cut and handle without marring the edges.
  • The different sized stars will bake for different times so bake the large ones on separate cookie sheets so they can come out later.
  • If your butter isn’t room temp just cut the sticks into a few slices and microwave on 50% power in 5 second bursts. Flip the butter with every burst.
  • Measure your flour correctly! Adding too much flour to the recipe is the most common mistake. The best, and easiest way to measure flour is by using a scale. If you don’t have one then fluff your flour with a spoon, sprinkle it into your measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off.
  • Scrape your bowl down a few times. If you have a glob to two of butter that doesn’t get mixed with the flour it will loose shape and melt when baked.
  • Use a high-quality vanilla if you can. Aside from the butter it’s the main flavor you’ll taste and worth the splurge!
  • I used a good amount of green food coloring for the buttercream but you can get a nice soft green by using matcha powder to color and flavor the buttercream.
  • You might need to let your buttercream set for a while after building the tree and before covering the tips of the stars in buttercream and decorations. 
  • If you can's find the mini chocolate spheres I used for the ornaments try other smaller candies like M&Ms or even crushed candy canes.


Serving: 38g | Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2.5g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 105mg | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 200IU | Iron: 0.7mg