Sleet was splattering against the windows and slush piling up in the street as we baked Halloween cookies this Saturday. With snow coming down and the smell of warm cider wafting from mugs, we may as well have been making Christmas cookies! This basic recipe can be cut into any shape you like, or made into logs and sliced before baking. Plan ahead: you can make this dough up to two days in advance, and you will need to chill it for at least two hours before baking. The most fun part, for children and adults alike, is decorating each cookie with colored icings and sprinkles!
for the cookies
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon if using table salt)
(1 tsp cinnamon, optional)*
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature.
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
(zest of one lemon, optional)*
*use either lemon or cinnamon
for the icing
cream or milk
1. Set out all your ingredients to allow them to reach room temperature. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and (if you’re using it) cinnamon.
2. Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar, beat until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Add the lemon zest last, if you’re using it.
3. Mix in the flour about a cup at a time, just until thoroughly combined.
4. Form the dough into 2 disks (or more if you don’t have much space to roll out the dough). Wrap them up. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to two days.
5. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees farenheit. Line a few baking sheets with baking parchment.
6. Sprinkle a little flour on each side of one of the disks. Place it between two pieces of wax paper or parchment and roll it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Dip your cookie cutters in flour to keep them from sticking, and cut out cookies. Place them about an inch apart on the cookie sheet. Save the scraps to roll out again. Repeat until you’ve used all your dough. If the cookies are really soft, put the tray in the refrigerator until they firm up.
7. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, rotating once so they cook evenly. They’re done when they turn golden brown around the edges.
8. Let the cookies cool before you ice them. To make icing, gradually stir cream or milk into a small bowl of confectioner’s sugar until it’s a smooth, spreadable texture, but not too runny. Add more cream or sugar as needed, and color however you like. Have fun applying icing and sprinkles!
hint #1: If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a wine bottle.
hint #2: Make a disposable pastry bag out of a Ziplock bag. Cut a tiny hole in one coner and fill the bag with icing. Twist the open end and squeeze to apply icing. To “flood” a cookie, outline the area you want iced, and then fill it in.