In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated.
Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the butter mixture, while also adding the milk little by little. Mix until the dough comes together. At this point, the dough should be slightly sticky, just like perfect cookie dough!
Separate a small portion of the dough (about 1/4 to 1/3 of the whole dough) and set it aside. This will be the base of your Christmas cactus.
To the remaining dough, add a few drops of green food coloring and knead until the color is evenly distributed, giving your dough a festive green hue.
Shape the green dough into small oval-shaped balls, symbolizing the leaves of the Christmas cactus. Place them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between each cookie.
Take the smaller portion of dough you set aside and divide it into small pieces, forming the cactus base. Attach one base piece at the bottom of each leaf-shaped cookie, gently pressing them together. This will give your Christmas cactus cookies their unique shape.
Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). While the oven is preheating, place the shaped cookies in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes. Chilled dough helps the cookies retain their shape during baking.
Once the oven is preheated, bake the cookies for approximately 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly golden. Be sure to keep a close eye on them, as baking time may vary depending on your oven.
Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack completely before decorating.
Once the cookies are cooled, the real fun begins! Using colored icing and edible decorations, let your creativity shine as you transform each cookie into a beautiful and unique Christmas cactus. Decorate with little red icing balls as Christmas cactus flowers, or sprinkle colored sugar to add a festive touch.
Allow the icing to set before enjoying these scrumptious Christmas Cactus Cookies. Serve them proudly to your friends and family, delighting them with the combination of sweet memories and delicious flavors.
– If you prefer a softer texture, reduce the baking time by a couple of minutes.
– Feel free to experiment with different food coloring shades to create a variety of cacti.
– Add flavor variations like a teaspoon of peppermint extract or orange zest to enhance the holiday flair.
These Christmas Cactus Cookies not only bring delight to your taste buds but also add a touch of whimsy to your holiday celebrations. Enjoy them during festive gatherings or share them as delightful gifts to spread the holiday cheer. As you savor each bite, remember the story of my beloved great-grandmother and the beautiful Christmas cactus blooms that inspired this recipe. May these cookies bring you joy, just as they have brought my family joy for generations. Happy baking and a joyous holiday season to all!