In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, soda, salt and spices. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter, sugar, molasses and eggs. Mix well. Add four cups of flour mixture and mix well. Add in additional flour while mixing on low until a firm non-sticky dough forms. You may not have to use all of the flour.
Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use the star cookie cutters to cut out two of each size, so that you have 20 cookies total. Place cookies on parchment-lined cookie sheets and chill 10 minutes. Bake small and medium cookies 6-10 minutes, and large cookies for 10-15 minutes. Let cool completely before decorating.
Decoration and Royal Icing
Knead fondant well and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using the same star cookie cutters you used for the cookies, cut 2 of each size. Brush cooled cookies lightly with piping gel and attach a same-size stars on top. Press a multicolor dragee at the end of each star point. Let stand until set, about 20 minutes.
For the royal icing, beat all ingredients together until icing forms stiff peaks, about 5 minutes at high speed.
To assemble, use a perfectly flat serving platter or cake board on which to build the tree. Begin by placing a dot of royal icing (pipe or spoon) on the server and then place the largest star on top. Place a small dot of icing on top of the large star and top with a second large star, shifting the star points so that they are staggered. Repeat the process with largest to smallest stars, reserving the smallest star to stand upright on top of the tree. Pipe a little royal icing on the top smallest star and stand the second smallest star upright; hold until it is stable.
Allow the entire cookie tree to stand until the royal icing sets firm, about 2 hours. After the icing has set the tree can be transported to your holiday buffet and used as an edible centerpiece!
Keyword cookie tree, dragees, fondant, royal icing