I’m a big believer in not using cookie cutters. I have plenty of specialty shapes, sure, and they’re fun to collect. But as I’ve said before, there’s a reason we use the term “cookie cutter” to describe something that’s kind of ordinary, without style or dash. There are very few shapes you can’t make yourself by using the tip of a paring knife and a steady hand, and you may be surprised to find how much better a tray of individually cut cookies looks. That said, these stand-up cookies will likely work best for you if you use a cookie cutter! For each cookie, you’ll need two of each shape, and if they’re identical, they’ll balance and stand better. But don’t put that paring knife away. You’ll be using it to cut slits in each cookie so they will interlock like a puzzle, and then stand upright. You can use a circle cutter and decorate the cookies to look like Christmas tree ornaments, but anything symmetrical will interlock and stand, such as a Christmas tree or snowman shape.
- Yield: 1 ½ dozen cookies
- 1 recipe gingerbread cookie dough
- 1 recipes Royal Icing Food coloring, as desired
- Dragées, small candies, or glitter sugar, as desired
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll a quarter of the dough out on a lightly floured surface to ¼ inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut an even number of shapes. Lift them onto the baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until just set but not browned. You want them baked through but not crisp.
- Let the cookies cool slightly and lift them onto a clean cutting board. Cut a ¼-inch-wide channel that extends about three-quarters of the way up from the bottom of one cookie, then make the same cut down from the top of its mate. Fit the cookies together and see if they’ll stand upright. If necessary, separate them and trim a little off the bottom. Depending on the shape, you may also need to trim some of the top off the bottom cookie. Snowmen, for example, may work best if you cut off the head of the bottom cookie, so that only one snowman head rises to the top.
- Roll, cut, and bake the remaining dough. Separate the cookies, keeping fitted pairs together. Then trim all of the remaining cookies as in Step 3.
- When all the cookies have been trimmed, decorate! Color the icing as you wish. Add dragées or candy or glitter sugar as desired. When the front decorations of the cookies are entirely dry, you can flip them and repeat the decorating and drying process on the underside, as it will be seen when assembled.
- When all the decorations are dry, fit the matched pairs together and stand them upright.