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Halloween Inspired Sugar Cookies

Some cookie recipes come out too brittle, too soft, too buttery and just not edible. This recipe will guarantee you an awesome batch all the time.

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Photo: Natalie DeWitt

All-Hallows-Even is upon and what better way to celebrate it than to bake some delicious sugar cookies that can be decorated to look like ghouls and other creatures of the night.

I have tried dozens of sugar cookie recipes over the years, with varying results – some have come out too buttery, too flakey, they break too easily, or are too crispy. This recipe produces  a top notch batch guaranteed.

They come out both firm and creamy, while still being able be battered with frosting. My friend Colleen provided me with the recipe, and I now share it with you!

Colleen’s Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups organic butter, softened
  • 2 cups organic white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out the dough on a floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased, non-stick cookie sheets, or preferably atop parchment paper.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. The thicker the cookie, the longer it will take to cook. Try to bake similar shapes together, too, for even cooking. A good indication of “doneness” is a very light browning around the edges of the cookie! Cool completely before removing from the baking sheet, or else you’ll risk breakage!

Now For The Decorating:

This recipe makes quite a few cookies, depending on the size of cookie cutters you use. If you feel ambitious you can decorate these little buttery bites of deliciousness with royal icing—a hard icing that is traditionally made from softly beaten egg whites, powdered sugar, and sometimes lemon juice is added for flavoring.

I did not realize the effort that went into making cookies with this type of frosting—it’s well worth it, just because of the awesome results you get when you stick it out and have patience. You can use this icing for a few cookies and the remainder can be slathered with a delicious buttercream, appreciated for its taste over looks.

Royal Icing

Ingredients

  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 5 tablespoons water

Cooking Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  2. Mix on low speed until the icing has a reduced shininess—this takes anywhere from 7-10 minutes.
  3. I often don’t see a reduction in sheen, so I mix it until I get bored and am ready to move forward. Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.

Skull Cookie

Photo: Natalie DeWitt

You can decorate your cookies in whatever way you want but if you want to stick with the Halloween theme, why not decorate some as skulls.

Royal Icing Directions

Ingredients

  • A batch of sugar cookies to decorate
  • A batch of sugar cookies to decorate
  • A batch of royal icing
  • Icing gel colors – liquid food colorings are likely to affect the consistency of your icing, while gel colors are concentrated bursts of color that don’t add extra liquid
  • Small airtight containers for each color of icing you plan to use
  • Spoons
  • Toothpicks
  • Disposable pastry bags fitted with small round tips (size 2-3 works best)

Cooking Directions

  1. Royal icing is applied in two stages: outlining and flooding. When you whip up your royal icing, it is still far too thick to decorate with easily.
  2. Add water, a few drops at a time, until the frosting thins enough to be easily piped from your pastry bag. If your arm starts to shake while applying the piping, it’s too thick. If the icing is oozing from the tip, it’s too thin. Add water to thin, powdered sugar to thicken.
  3. First, you have to outline each of your cookies with their intended colors. For the ghosts and skulls, I outlined in white. Each of your airtight containers will hold your various colors. You’ll have to wait for the outline to dry before you can proceed forward.
  4. If you’ve made any black frosting, don’t eat it. It tastes terrible by itself, and I urge you to reconsider decorating tombstones or cauldrons in all black, no matter how cute it looks. Your mouth will thank me later.
  5. After the outlines dry, you can flood the cookies with watered-down versions of the icing and move it around to the different parts of the cookie with toothpicks and spoons. To do this, use a portion of the thicker icing in its airtight container.
  6. Add water, a very small amount at a time—I do a few drops, stir, and hold my spoon up into the air until the icing falls off of it in a steady slow stream. If it’s too thin, the icing will go all over the place.
  7. Unfortunately, you’ll only know it’s too thin when you try to flood a ghost, only to have it overflow its piped boundary and go all over your pants. Take a deep breath, eat a reserved cookie, and drudge through until you have them all flooded and you vow to either never do this again, or never decorate your cookies any other way, ever again.

Natalie DeWitt

Natalie DeWitt has degrees from Indiana University in Secondary Health Education, School and College Health Programs, and is now a PhD student minoring in food studies. Her primary research areas focus on virtual food, food identities, and school food environments. She is a self-taught baker and cook.

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