My Favorite Halloween Sugar Cookies

Cooked up on October 3, 2011

Filed under: baking, dessert, fall, family, holiday

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Today, I am ten years old and sitting at my parents’ big oak kitchen table with my three brothers. Aaron is barely three and still the family’s baby, Jacob is six, wide-eyed and sweet and Adam has this crazy glint of mischief in his eyes – he is eight and he is the funny one (nothing has changed except the numbers). We were all gathered at the table like we did once every October to decorate these Halloween sugar cookies. My mom would dump whatever sprinkles and chocolate chips we had into little cups perfect for little hands and we would each decorate a cookie sheet full of pumpkins and ghosts. Sometimes the ghosts would have sprinkle buttons and bow ties. Sometimes the pumpkins would be surprised or angry. And then, 12 minutes later, we would eat lots and lots of cookies.

Today’s recipe is one I’ve made every year since I can remember. This is my mother’s sugar cookie recipe and her it was her idea, as far as I know, to take it to the next level. I intend to be making these cookies when I’m 97.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Red and yellow food coloring (or just orange)
  • Chocolate chips and anything else you want to use to decorate

Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer, then add the egg, milk and vanilla and continue mixing until the dough is pretty homogenous.

Next, add our dry ingredients to the dough and fold in. Divide the dough in half (eyeball it… It’s not important) and move one half to another bowl. Use your food coloring to dye the dough orange.

I like to start with 7 drops of each red and. Yellow to get a good base, then add more and more yellow until it’s the perfect orange color. Don’t be alarmed if it takes twice as much yellow as it did red. Cover both doughs and let them rest in the fridge for about thirty minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees when you are ready to take them out of the fridge. Take one of the dough colors and place it on a very very well-floured surface. Add another 1/4 cup of flour on top and work it into the dough. The dough will start out pretty sticky, and you need to work enough flour in to make it function like a pizza dough. Make sure your surface stays very well floured.

When your dough is pliable but not too sticky, roll it out to a 1/4 inch thickness and use cookie cutters to cut out Halloweeny shapes. Decorate them however you want — I like to rely on my vast knowledge of emoticons. Repeat the process for your ghosts – you can make anything you want any appropriate color, but for some reason we’ve always just done pumpkins and ghosts.

Bake for 11 minutes. It is absolutely crucial that you rotate your cookie sheets if you are making more than one sheet full at a time.

And there you have it. These cookies are a little piece of my growing up. And if I ever have kids, we’re going to make them together too.

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