Here is a cookie that will give Santa a smile.
You'll need a 31/2-inch oval/egg-shaped cookie cutter (or create a template to cut around).
For the cookies:
One 14.5-ounce package gingerbread mix, such as Pillsbury Gingerbread Cake & Cookie Mix
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
Flour, for the work surface
1 teaspoon meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon hot water
One 12-ounce container ready-to-spread fluffy white frosting
24 miniature candy canes
24 round black licorice candies
12 sour red cherry candies
For the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Prepare the gingerbread dough according to the package directions for gingersnap cookies, using the butter and egg. The dough will be soft.
Generously flour a work surface and rolling pin. Place the dough on the prepared surface and roll it out to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Use the cookie cutter to cut out a total of 12 ovals, rerolling the scraps as needed. Space the ovals at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time (middle rack) for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies are set. Transfer to a wire rack (on the sheet) to cool completely.
For assembly: Stir together the meringue powder and hot water in a medium bowl until well combined, then stir in the frosting until well blended. Spoon this mixture into a heavy-duty zip-top bag and seal, pressing out as much air as possible.
Use scissors to snip off one corner of the bag; this will be your decorating “tip.” Pipe one large dot of frosting mixture at the (wide) top of one cookie; then press the straight ends of two candy canes into the frosting to form antlers. Pipe another large dot of frosting on top to help hold them in place. (Prop up the candy canes until the frosting sets by placing a piece of candy beneath them.)
Pipe two large frosting ovals in the center of the cookie; press one licorice candy into each oval to form eyes. Pipe one dot of frosting at the bottom of the cookie; press one cherry candy in the dot to form a nose. Repeat with the remaining cookies, some of the frosting mixture and all the candies. Let them set completely before storing (this may take as long as overnight).
Makes 12 cookies.
– Adapted from “Christmas Cookie Swap!: More Than 100 Treats to Share This Holiday Season,” edited by Nicole Fisher (Oxmoor House, 2016)