December 18, 2018
This is about...
Magical Cookie Forests!
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        PEOPLE ALWAYS EXPECT COOKIES FROM ME THIS TIME OF YEAR. So much so that if they didn’t get any as presents, they would certainly wonder WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?
        So I would never think of giving anyone anything else. But, I think it’s fair game to veer off the beaten path, or batter so to speak, and come up with unique ways to package them. This year is no exception. I usually start focusing my search around Thanksgiving. And this year I lucked out, when I accidentally stumbled across this idea in a Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. I immediately knew that I had found something worthy---ADORABLE COOKIE FOREST SCENES IN SPARKLY LIT CANNING JARS.
        You start by baking and decorating a lot of cookies—that’s the most time-consuming part So you could cheat here and buy some and/or buy pre-made frosting to decorate with—but, if you have the time, your homemade ones will be so much more delicious.
        ONCE YOU'VE GOT THE COOKIES MADE, IT'S EASY WORK FROM HERE. Canning jars or glass cannisters, of any size you choose, are filled with a snowy base of sugar and a forest scene of decorated cookie pine trees, reindeer, and other forest creatures that stand up in the sugar. Even little houses can all happily be included. Just make sure the jar is the right size for the cookies to fit and to be supported enough to stand up. Top with the lid, and light the jar by wrapping the top with tiny, glittering fairie lights that will go anywhere, because they’re battery-powered. THEY'RE ADORABLE, DELICIOUS AND A CHARMNG, YUMMY GIFT.
        If you want to start from scratch, make my homemade gingerbread cookies CLICK HERE for the recipe. Below is the Royal Icing recipe too.


LESSONS Learned:
1. The canning jars and fairie lights are easy to find at lots of big box stores or online. I used Weck #743 3/4 liter jars and a 6-7 foot string of fairie lights.
2. If you do make or frost your own cookies, which I highly recommend, you’ll have to plan ahead, because once they’re frosted, they’ll need to dry for a few hours or overnight.
3. Make sure the jars are sized small enough to support the cookies and keep them upright.
4. I like making royal icing with meringue powder instead of using raw egg whites, it also dries more quickly.
5. If you don't have a piping bag, put the icing in a ziploc bag and cut off a tiny piece of one of the corners.
6. Stand back and wait for the ooo’s and ahh’s.

If you want to start from scratch, make my homemade gingerbread cookies
CLICK HERE for the recipe.

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 Tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, optional-but I use it
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the icing:
        In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed for 4-5 minutes until stiff and glossy. Lift the whisk attachment up out of the icing.
        You've got the perfect consistency when the icing falls off and melts right back into the bowl of icing within about 5-10 seconds. If it's too thick, add a little more water a teaspoon at a time. If it's too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners' sugar. While using the icing, to keep it from hardening, cover the bowl with a damp towel.
        The icing will harden in about 3 hours at room temperature or leave to harden overnight. You can store any extra in an air tight container in fridge for 2 days. Bring back to room temperature, and stir well to reuse, thinning with a little water if necessary.

Makes 1 1/2 cups, and can easily be doubled.      YUM!
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