Nebraska pioneer J. Sterling Morton started the campaign to plant trees as a way to conserve soil and provide needed shade, and the first Arbor Day occurred in Nebraska on April 10, 1872. Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April in many states. The Arbor Day Foundation supports efforts to plant trees with ideas to celebrate this holiday. If you are hosting a party or participating in an Arbor Day event, some homemade cookies that underscore the beauty of trees are a welcome treat.
The simple shape of an evergreen is a good place to start decorating tree cookies. If you don't have one in your Christmas cookie cutter collection, just draw the triangle shape on heavy cardboard. Use a sharp knife to cut around the shape on rolled out cookie dough. To decorate the baked cookies, add branches in dark icing and clusters of needles in dark green. When you get comfortable with this simple shape, try a stylized lollipop tree shape using the same method.
Make a batch of bar cookies that use fruit from trees, like apples, pears, dates and cherries. Add some applesauce or dried dates to an oatmeal bar recipe, or use apples and cherries in a crumbly bar. When the cookies are ready to cut, instead of standard rectangles, try triangles to mimic the evergreen tree shape.
In your basic sugar cookie recipe, combine citrus flavors with woodsy herbs, such as lemon and rosemary or orange and bay. Or mix grated lemon rind and finely chopped rosemary with sanding sugar to top simple cookies. And don't forget that nuts also grow on trees. Bake some pecan sandies, thumbprint cookies topped with a walnut half or almond biscotti to highlight the importance of trees.