For my decorated cookie cake I chose a wreath shape which seems to be a very popular shape this Christmas! I used my favorite gingerbread cookie recipe which you can download a printable version for here. This recipe makes enough to make 2 layers of large cookies plus a lot of extra cookie cutouts to decorate the tops of your cookie cake.
GINGERBREAD COOKIE RECIPE
125 grams unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (90 grams) brown sugar
2/3 cup (230 grams) golden syrup
2 1/2 cups (375 grams) plain (all purpose) flour, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda, sifted
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6-8 minutes. scraping down the sides of the bowl, until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup, flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice and beat until the mixture just comes together to form a smooth dough.
After the dough is made roll it out on a silicone baking mat (so you don't have to transfer the large cookie shapes later) to approximately 5mm thick and spread it far enough to cut out the large cookie shapes later. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up the dough to make cutting out easier.
Place your cookie cake template carefully on top of the rolled out dough and cut out the shape using your plastic cookie cutter tool or a blunt butter knife. Take your time and keep the blade as upright as you can so that the edge of the cookie is cut straight. After cutting around the outer edge and inner edge (if you want the inside removed also for example on a wreath shape) carefully lift off the cookie dough away from the cutout shape. Put the cookie cutouts back into the fridge to chill while the oven heats up. This will help the cookie to keep its shape when baked.
Heat oven to 160°C (325°F) and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and firm. Take the cookies out of the oven and leave the cookies on the trays to cool completely. Large cookies can be difficult to move without breaking, especially when they are warm.
COOKIE CAKE TOPPERS
Here is where the fun really begins! Use your creativity to put whatever you like on top of your decorated cookie cake. Fruit, lollies, chocolates, cookies, fondant shapes, fresh flowers, meringues and macarons are all popular choices. Here is what I used for this cookie cake:
Use the offcut cookie dough to cut out extra cookie shapes to use as cake toppers. You can even stamp names or messages into them with a cookie stamp set. We used the DoughCuts Message Maker stamp set which includes both upper and lower case letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Keeping with the theme I made stars, some mini wreaths and some Merry Xmas embossed round cookies.
I also purchased some printed edible icing cookie toppers to make very pretty cookies to put on top of the cookie cake.
I made a really small batch of meringue kisses using this recipe here. They were piped using a fine star nozzle.
TURNING YOUR LARGE COOKIES INTO A COOKIE CAKE
When the cookies are completely cool you are ready to assemble the cookie cake. The first step is to create a filling to pipe between the cookie layers and also on top of the cookie cake. We used a cream cheese buttercream icing. For a printable cream cheese buttercream recipe please click here.
CREAM CHEESE BUTTERCREAM RECIPE
1 cup (250 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened
250 grams chilled cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups (500 grams) icing (confectioners) sugar
Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter on medium speed until creamy. Add cream cheese and vanilla and beat until fully incorporated. Gradually increase mixer speed to high and continue beating until light and fluffy, scraping down the side of bowl a few times. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the icing sugar until desired consistency is reached and level of sweetness. You can add a little more icing sugar to make the icing sweeter if desired. Beat on high until well combined and smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes.
If the buttercream is too soft to pipe you can pop it into the fridge to firm up a little or add more icing sugar to the mixture.
I piped this buttercream with a 13mm or 1/2 inch round icing nozzle but you could use a different size or shaped nozzle to create a different effect.
Place your first cookie onto the tray, serving plate or cake board. Pipe the buttercream onto the cookie and put this in the fridge to firm up for 10-20 minutes. Then place the second cookie on top of the first very gently and pipe your icing onto this one. Take your time to create a neat piped effect but don't worry too much as any unruly buttercream can be covered with decorations in the next step. Refrigerate again for 10-20 minutes and then you are ready to place your cookie cake toppers on.
Carefully place your decorations into and onto the buttercream however you desire. I try not to be too precise with them because I like the random placing and look.
Chill again before serving to make the cookie cake easy to cut when serving. If the buttercream is too soft you risk it oozing out the sides when you cut into it.
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