Cardamom Gingerbread Trees

If you want to create a wintry forest, you need snow. Fill a large tray with granulated sugar to nestle the trees in.

Cardamom Gingerbread Trees
Photo: Carson Downing
Hands On Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
15 trees


  • 1 cup butter

  • 3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ cup milk

  • ¼ cup molasses

  • Royal Icing

Royal Icing

  • 2 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons meringue powder*

  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ¼ cup warm water

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla


  1. In a 10-inch skillet heat butter over medium-low 10 to 15 minutes or until butter turns golden brown. Remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl. Chill until butter is the texture of softened butter.

  2. In a medium bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, ginger, cardamom, and salt.

  3. Beat browned butter with a mixer on medium 30 seconds. Add both sugars; beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in egg, milk, and molasses. Gradually beat in as much of the flour mixture as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour mixture. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

  4. Preheat oven to 375°F. On a 15×12-inch piece of parchment paper, use a floured rolling pin to roll one portion of dough at a time to just slightly more than 1/8 inch thick. Using 4- to 5 1/2-inch tree-shape cookie cutters, cut out dough, pulling scraps away from cutout trees. (If making 3-D trees, see directions.) Transfer parchment paper with cutouts to a cookie sheet. (This prevents cookies from tearing or stretching when you transfer them to cookie sheets.) Reroll scraps as needed.

  5. Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very light brown. Remove from cookie sheet; cool on a wire rack.

  6. Decorate cookies with Royal Icing as desired. Makes 30 flat cookies or fifteen 3-D trees.

Royal Icing

  1. In a medium bowl stir together 2 cups powdered sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp. meringue powder, and 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar. Add 1/4 cup warm water and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Beat with a mixer on low until combined, then beat on high 6 to 7 minutes or until icing is very stiff. If necessary, beat in additional water to reach piping consistency. (When not using icing, keep covered with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent it from drying out.) Makes 1 1/2 cups.

3-D Trees

Turn our gingerbread cookies into a forest of standing trees to re-create our cover display or add dimension to a dessert buffet. Roll out and cut cookies as shown (if your cutter has a tree trunk, cut it off so bottom edge is straight). Bake as directed, except immediately cut half the just-baked tree cookies in half vertically before cooling. Using Royal Icing, decorate whole and halved cookie pieces as desired; let set. Pipe or spread a line of icing vertically down the middle of a whole cookie and attach a half cookie to the icing; repeat on the other side. Stand 3-D cookie to let set.

To Store:

In an airtight container layer unassembled, unfrosted cookies between sheets of waxed paper Store at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Assemble and frost before serving.


Meringue powder is a mixture of pasteurized egg whites, sugar, and edible gums. It is the secret ingredient to making Royal Icing dry quickly with a smooth, hard finish. Look for it in the baking aisle of large supermarkets or in the cake decorating department of hobby and crafts stores.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

374 Calories
13g Fat
62g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 15
Calories 374
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 45mg 15%
Sodium 271mg 12%
Total Carbohydrate 62g 23%
Total Sugars 41g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 37mg 3%
Iron 1.7mg 10%
Potassium 144mg 3%
Fatty acids, total trans 1g
Folate, total 51.9mcg
Vitamin B-12 0.1mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.1mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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