Note: Julia Usher, a cookbook author and founder of the website Cookie Connection, has created a terrific, intricate needlepoint design for a gingerbread "stocking." The cookie stocking consists of four stacked gingerbread pieces, cut out with a large cookie cutter. A channel is cut in the middle two layers, and that provides a space for inserting the cookie "lollipops" that fill the stocking.
We were so taken with it that we asked her to share tips on ways to achieve it, which you'll find in the accompanying sidebar. As you can tell, it's a project for a steady, experienced hand. So we asked Washington Post staff writer Roxanne Roberts to give it a go; after all, she has competed in the annual national gingerbread house competition at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.
Roberts did a beautiful job. She found the design so challenging that she created two alternates that, while also fantastic, are easier to accomplish: an argyle pattern and a winter snowman scene. Even if you simply flood and fill, the "edible stocking" construction is simple to assemble with royal icing.
Recipe: Gingerbread Stockings
Makes two 7-inch stockings and at least 9 small cookie lollipops
These edible cookie containers fall into the "too pretty to eat" category. Each one can hold 3 or 4 cookie "lollipops."
You'll need a 7-inch stocking-shaped cookie cutter; 1-to-2-inch round cutters; a handful of cake/cookie pop sticks, which are available at craft stores; luster dust and Chefmaster Liqua-Gel food coloring, both of which are available through online purveyors or baking supply shops.
MAKE AHEAD: The dough needs to be refrigerated overnight or up to 2 days. Undecorated cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month or individually wrapped and frozen for up to three months. The decorated cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Adapted from recipes by Roxanne Roberts' mother and from Julia Usher.