Christmas Trees and Elf Hats: The Journal News Cookie Swap 2014


025 This post is part of our series on my cookie swap tradition. Every December, for the past ten years, I’ve invited friends to join me in a cookie exchange.  Over the years, our party has evolved into a mother-daughter event, hence the many recipe contributors listed on some of the posts!  Each post contains a favorite recipe from past exchanges. See how to win more than $700 worth of prizes, including a stand mixer, at our Cookie Swap on Dec. 2. This classic iced Christmas cookie comes from Justine and Julia, a very enthusiastic mother-daughter team.  Check out talented Julia’s baking blog at Click here to see our recipe database with more from past Cookie Swaps. 

Christmas Trees and Elf Hats by Justine and Julia Koch

Christmas Trees and Elf Hats by Justine and Julia Koch


  • Ingredients for rolled sugar cookies:
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup superfine sugar, or granulated sugar, processed in blender or food processor for 30 seconds
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. Almond extract or emulsion, optional
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour.
  • Ingredients for Royal Icing:
  • Royal Icing: (Double recipe)
  • 3 T. meringue powder
  • 4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
  • 6 T. water
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you want a pure white icing)
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract


  1. Cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with mixer set at medium speed . Add yolk, beat well. Add whole egg, vanilla and optional almond extract and beat until well-incorporated. Add flour; beat at low speed just until flour is mixed in; do not overmix. Divide dough in halves or thirds and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour and up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Dust work surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll dough to 1/4" thick, sprinkling with additional flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into desired shapes and place on parchment or silicone-lined pans. Bake in preheated oven until cookies appear dry on the surface and are light golden brown on the edges, about 10 minutes (very large cookies may take up to 12 or 13 minutes). Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks and cool completely before decorating.
  3. To make icing, beat all ingredients together until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes). To vary the consistency, add water to thin and add powdered sugar to thicken. Add green food coloring to 1 cup; white food coloring to ½ cup.
  4. Use ziplock sandwich bags and cut tiny hole on bottom for squeezing icing;
  5. Outline cookies then fill with icing. Use toothpick to spread icing. Sprinkle or decorate before icing hardens.
  6. Let cookies with icing dry overnight before handling or serving.
cookieswap2012finalC-01Win more than $700 worth of prizes! The Journal News Cookie Swap will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 2 at the new Chef Central location at 419 Tarrytown Road, Greenburgh. Suburban Sweets blogger Josephine D’Ippolito will teach everyone how to host their own cookie swap, with tips on everything from the guest list to the decorating sprinkles. Food writer Megan McCaffrey will host. Come down, meet our experts, share in some cookies and enter to win more than $700 worth of prizes! We’re giving away a Kitchen Aid Mixer, cookware, a waffle maker — and a basket of must-have bakeware selected by Josephine herself.


About Author

Suburban Sweets columnist Josephine D’Ippolito is a baking enthusiast whose passion began more than twenty years ago, when, on a whim, she and her college friend made a single batch of cookies from scratch. One husband, three children and thousands of cookies later, Josephine enjoys the creative and culinary process of baking more than ever. Older, wiser and slightly more health conscious, she tends to justify her habit by making her desserts on the tiny side. Quite possibly her favorite day of the year is her annual cookie exchange held each December, when she gets to revel in the talent and sweetness of her dearest family and friends.

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