Halloween Sugar Cookies
As you may have noticed - there aren't many sweet treats up on my blog. Mostly because baking is a little too refined / rigid for me; often the amounts need to be exact or you'll have a hot mess on your hands and have to start over! My patience doesn't really function in situations like that. Also, I don't really have much of a sweet tooth - I'd rather have a second helping of dinner than a piece of chocolate cake.
BUT, I do truly believe in balance in the kitchen, and when our friends over at Housebox asked if we could make some cute pumpkin cookies with the cookie cutter we received in this months box, we were of course happy to hop into the kitchen and get out the rolling pin!
There is something pretty special about baking in that combining all these ingredients in a certain way lends itself to a final product that resembles nothing of it's individual parts. Does that make sense? Like, if you put carrot, celery and onion into a pasta sauce, you can still see those parts, and you would nibble at them along the way. There is no way I was dipping my finger in the flour, just to sample! (although, the batter is a different story). Anyways! Perhaps I'm all over the place here, but my point is that there is something very special and rewarding when you have a decent little finished product made from items that, alone, aren't really that spectacular (flour, baking soda etc)
These sugar cookies are essentially a Betty Crocker original, with a few small changes. They are simple to make and don't take too much time, and are a huge hit for anyone with kids as the wee ones enjoy decorating their own cookies.
There are some insanely impressive cookie decorators out there! Spend a few minutes on pintrest and you'll understand what I mean. For instance, here & here. I'll leave it to the professionals to guide you on those techniques and which icing you use for what! I've gone the simple route and asked a few kiddies to decorate mine - just kidding, these are my own mad skills! I used an easy icing with some simple sprinkles. Dead easy!
Because the dough expands slightly when cooked - the tops of the pumpkins don't stay as long and lean and when first cut. I like to call these "chubby pumpkins" - ie. extra cute.
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbs water
food colouring (optional)
Mix powdered sugar, butter, egg, vanilla and almond extract. Mix in flour and baking powder. You can use a stand mixer with the mixing paddle or a food pressor with the dough blade. Divide dough in half. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. I left mine over night.
Take dough out of fridge and allow to warm for a bit - it's normal that it seems really hard when you remove it from the fridge. Preheat oven to 357°C. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mat. Roll each portion out on a lightly floured surface. It helps to use cling film over top so the dough doesn't stick. Use cookie cutter to make as many cuts as possible - and move to pumpkin cookies the baking sheets. A dough scraper can be helpful to move the pumpkins over if they are sticking slightly. Re-roll the remaining dough and cut additional cookies until all is used.
Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly coloured on top. Allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
To make the icing, start by adding 1 tbs of water to 1/2 cup powdered sugar and combine. Add more water if necessary but you don't want it too thin. Make another batch with food colouring if desired. And then..... decorate away!