I have to admit, I’m not a Halloween person. I’m not one for the blood and bones and tombstones. Those GIANT SPIDERS people are putting on their houses just about send me into an arachnophobic panic. Don’t get me wrong – I love to dress up. I’m just not good with all the spooks or appetizers that resemble severed fingers. This year, I’m getting into the holiday spirit the as best I can. With googley eye spiders (they seemed the most benign) and black fraidy cats. Here’s your Halloween Sugar Cookie recipe and inspiration for the year (and tuck this recipe away because these are also our Christmas cookies). It’s tame, I know… but it’s also sweet and delicious (and not bleeding).
Oh and for your pleasure and my embarrassment – I found an eleven year old blog post of some of my childhood Halloween costumes over the years. This year’s costume is still TBD. I’ll likely wear a dress that makes me look like a skeleton and call it a night. I’m just till thanking my lucky stars that I dressed up as Tom Cruise in Risky Business and somehow landed a date with Will at a Halloween party two years ago. Wow I got LUCKY, friends.
Let’s bake! (And if you don’t want to bake the cookies yourself, join us at The Bakehouse on October 23rd. I’ll do all the cookie baking and you just roll up to drink and decorate!)
Here’s what you’ll need to bring together this Halloween Sugar Cookie recipe:
• all-purpose flour (you can also use gluten-free flour for these cookies. Cup4Cup is my favorite baking brand)
• baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt
• granulated sugar
• a mixture of vegetable shortening and softened butter. I used Crisco All-Vegetable shortening. The shortening will keep this sugar cookie recipe chewy and tender (and prolong its shelf life) while the butter adds delicious flavor.
• whole milk (or any fat milk you have on hand).
• an egg to help the cookies bind.
• vanilla extract for flavor.
• For the royal icing and decorations you’ll want meringue powder, black food coloring, black sprinkles, sugar spiders, a 3-inch round cookie cutter and a scared cat cookie cutter. You’ll also want a few disposable piping bags, small round piping tips and a few toothpicks. I promise, the right tools make these cookies a cinch (and so fun) to make!
Let’s bring together these cookies.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. It’s always a good idea to evenly combine the dry ingredients so you guarantee the ingredients are evenly mixed when they meet the wet ingredients.
In a separate bowl beat together shortening and softened butter. The combination of fats is key to making these cookies chewy and flavorful. You surely could make these cookies with all butter, they’re just have more of a crisp texture. Cream together fats and sugar.
Once the fats and sugar are pale and fluffy (about 3 to 5 minutes in) beat in the egg and vanilla extract along with the milk.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir / toss / finagle into a cohesive dough.
I like to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes. This will allow the flour to absorb the moisture from the butter, egg, and milk but still keep it pliable enough to roll out without cracking.
Roll the slightly chilled dough between two slices of floured parchment paper to just under 1/2-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. An offset spatula is helpful for the transfer from counter to baking sheet.
Bake the cookies until juuuuust barely golden. Allow to cool on the pan for 10 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies cool, whip together the royal icing.
Here’s how to decorate Halloween sugar cookies:
Keep it simple with spider webs and sprinkles!
To decorate, use piping bags (I used a disposable piping bag with a Wilton round 4 tip) to trace royal icing borders around each cookie (let it set for 2 minutes), then use a small offset spatula to “flood” the inside of the border with more icing. To make spider webs, immediately pipe a thin line of black icing (Wilton round 3 tip) semi-circles over the white and use a toothpick to swipe through all three lines towards the center of the cookie. Add a little spider if you’d like. Cute, right?
Border the cat cookies with black royal icing and flood with black frosting. Immediately top with lots of sparkly black sprinkles and allow to dry.
I also made little orange Troncats by swirling orange into my royal icing. He’s not a spook but he deserves a cookie.
Once dry, cookies can be stored covered at room temperature for up to 8 days.
Photos with Jon Melendez.Print
A classic soft and chewy sugar cookie topped with royal icing.
For the Cookies:
- 3 cups (380 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup vegetable shortening (I used Crisco)
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons, 56 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Royal Icing:
- 6 cups (680 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 teaspoons meringue powder
- small splash of almond extract (optional)
- 1/2 cup warm water (as needed)
- To make the cookies, in a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together shortening and butter until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the sugar and beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the egg, milk, and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Stop the mixer. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure no dry pockets are hidden at the bottom of the bowl. Wrap and refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
- Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Roll half of the dough between two lightly floured pieces of parchment paper or on a lightly floured counter to a thick ¼-inch thickness of just under 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 to 3-inch cookie cutter and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until just golden around the edges. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- To make the frosting, sift powdered sugar and meringue powder into mixing bowl. Using electric stand mixer, mix dry ingredients on low speed until combined. Add almond extract if using. While mixing on low speed, slowly add warm water to sugar mixture. Add water a few tablespoons at a time, allowing it to fully incorporate before adding more, until reaching desired consistency. Let mix for 3 minutes until fully blended. Cover immediately and store and room temperature until ready to use.
- To decorate cookies, use piping bags (I used a disposable piping bag with a Wilton round 4 tip) to trace royal icing borders around each cookie (let it set for 2 minutes), then use a small offset spatula to “flood” the inside of the border with more icing. To make spider webs, immediately pipe a thin line of black icing (Wilton round 3 tip) semi-circles over the white and use a toothpick to swipe through all three lines towards the center of the cookie. Add a little spider if you’d like. Border the cat cookies with black royal icing and flood with black frosting. Immediately top with lots of sparkly black sprinkles and allow to dry.
Keywords: cookies, halloween, sugar cookies, royal icing, holiday