I always tell myself that I’m going to stick to a posting schedule to keep everything organized on here. Then I come up with a Halloween sugar cookie idea and post it on the completely wrong day because I’m just so excited to share it with you guys I say to hell with posting schedules.
Today is definitely one of those days. I have a good reason for my excitement, though! If you’re a creative person I’m sure you understand my struggles. I have so many great ideas that look amazing in my head, but my ability to make them look anywhere close to that, in reality, is quite far off most of the time.
These super simple Halloween cut out sugar cookies were a total win because they actually turned out looking just as cute in reality as they did in my head. I had the idea when I was putting away a Christmas cookie cutter and just had to make them the next day to test it out. I’m so glad I did.
I stuck to a very basic sugar cookie dough recipe because I knew I would be adding a few layers of sugar on top of them. I also wanted to focus on the design more than flavor so knew that sticking to a basic sugar cookie dough recipe I could make a cookie everyone would love.
Halloween Tombstone Sugar Cookie Recipe
As mentioned above, I went with the most basic sugar cookie recipe I had in my arsenal. This is a sugar cookie dough recipe that literally anyone can use to make perfect cut out sugar cookies every time. You can adjust the vanilla in your cookies to your liking. I tend to add a little less than most recipes call for so if you prefer a stronger vanilla flavor you can definitely add a good amount more without any issues.
If you would like your sugar cookie to have more of a Halloween flavor you can always add a dash of cinnamon, pumpkin spice seasoning, or even apple pie spices to the dough along with the other dry ingredients.
Sugar Cookie Dough Ingredients:
1 C butter, unsalted (softened)
1 C cane sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt ( I use pink Himalayan salt)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
3 C flour
Directions to Make Cut Out Sugar Cookies
I find that I don’t even bother mixing my dry ingredients in a separate bowl when I make these cookies. Honestly, it’s just easier to throw everything in the stand mixer than to dirty up extra bowls. I haven’t noticed any change in flavor from doing so, and they still seem to disappear in about a day or two so I don’t think there are any complaints from the nerdlets either.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. You want to set your butter out to soften when you start to preheat your oven if you haven’t done so already. Honestly, the earlier the better but at least get it out when you turn on the oven.
Once your butter has softened you can toss it into the bowl of a stand mixer ( or just a bowl if you are using a hand mixer). Add in the sugar and combine until you get a light fluffy texture. You want to make sure to remove the gritty texture as much as possible. Leaving this texture will give you gritty cookies.
When your butter mixture reaches a smooth texture you can add in your egg and vanilla. Mix until everything is combined. Add cinnamon and baking powder to the mixture and then add the flour 1/2 C at a time until a dough ball forms.
Related: Creepy and Fun Halloween Zombie Hand Chocolate Graveyard Cupcakes
There’s no need to freeze this sugar cookie dough. You can transfer it right onto a prepared surface to begin rolling it out to cut your sugar cookie shapes. What exactly is a prepared surface? You can do it one of two ways. Some prefer using flour. Others use powdered sugar for this step. I alternate between the two based on what I have on hand. I used flour this time, but generally, do find that I prefer powdered sugar.
As you can see we are using a cookie cutter that is generally used more often around Christmas. It is the standard Santa ( or sometimes Mrs. Claus’s) mitten cookie cutter.
Bake your cut out sugar cookies on a parchment paper-lined baking tray for about 7-9 minutes. Oven times will vary slightly so just be sure to keep an eye out for when they just start to turn a golden brown on the edges. This is when you want to take them out. Don’t worry if they don’t look completely done. They will continue to cook slightly as they cool on the baking tray.
Let each batch of cookies cool on the baking tray for 5-10 minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely (meaning at least an hour) before adding any of the icing or decorations. Being impatient at this point can be disastrous as it will just melt right off.
After you have let your cut out sugar cookies cool completely you can begin to add the first layer of the decoration. For this layer, I used a basic cookie icing or a royal icing. You can make your own easily or just buy a premade cookie icing at your local grocery store.
You want to outline the cookie with a bead of the icing and then fill in the interior of what you have outlined by “flooding” it with icing. You can take the time to make this as neat or as “rustic” ( as I like to call it) as you have the time and ability to do. As someone with a condition affecting my stability and grip, there’s just no way I am getting a steady outline or smooth finish. I’m ok with that. I prefer my cookies “rustic” anyway lol.
Allow your cookies to set completely (for at least an hour) before going on to the next step.
For the next layer of decoration on our Halloween sugar cookie, we want to cover what will soon become the “ghost”. I used a cover as simple as an index card here. I’m a huge fan of just using what I have on hand. You can use anything you have available to ensure you keep the gray color we will be adding off of the little thumb nub of our mitton cookie.
If you choose to use a little bit of alcohol and an edible coloring powder instead of the spray color that was used in this recipe you won’t need to mask the thumb, just be careful not to paint it.
Generally, I am not a fan of using spray coloring. However, like with the Wilbur the Pig cupcakes I made a while ago, I feel that it was the best way to achieve the look I was going for. Either way you decide to go about coloring your tombstone, just make sure you keep the thumb nub free of the darker tombstone color.
I used the Wilton silver spray coloring to achieve the gray color I was looking for on the part of the cookie that will become the tombstone. I like that with the spray color I could easily alter the “aging” of each tombstone slightly. I also find that my “messy texture” in the white icing helps add character to each tombstone as well once the gray color is added.
Let your spray coloring dry completely (again, at least an hour or so here) before going on to the next step. You don’t want to smear the spray coloring while it is drying. The crisp line where we masked off the thumb helps to add to the illusion of our ghost.
Now that the spray color has set on the tombstone it’s time to add a more 3D effect to the cookies. To achieve this look we are using Wilton black sparkle gel icing. Be sure to do a test dab on a napkin or surface other than your cookies if you are using a new tube. This will give you a feel for how quickly the gel icing is coming out of the tube so you can adjust it accordingly.
If you want to get fancy here and design your own custom tombstones then, by all means, go right ahead. I decided to go with a standard RIP. It’s a good solid sentiment that takes little effort so it was a winner. I would like to do intricate Celtic cross tombstones one day but today was not that day. I finished up this step by adding two little eyes to the ghost we created peeking out from behind the tombstone.
Is it his tombstone? Perhaps he haunts a lost love or an arch-enemy? We won’t be giving him a mouth so we’ll never know. You can add a mouth to your ghost if you would like, but I preferred them with just two little eyes on my cookies. Just a cute little observer wondering why he’s about to be eaten.
One last time, we want to let the layer we added to the cookie dry for about an hour or so. The gel icing won’t set up completely but turns kind of tacky instead. It should still stay put fairly well, just don’t manhandle them.
For the last layer of the cookie, we are adding a green decorator icing to the bottom. You can totally skip this part if you want, or if you just don’t want that much icing on a cookie.
I found it a necessary step because it helped hide the bottom edge that gives the shape away as a mitten. It also adds another 3D layer to our tombstone scene that makes it a little more believable. Of course, if I was better at doing grass it would be a lot more believable but I work in abstracts lol.
How to Store Iced Sugar Cookies
Chances are these cookies aren’t going to last very long in your house. They certainly don’t last very long in mine. When it comes to storing homemade sugar cookies though you can keep them in an air-tight container for up to about a week.
If you would like to store them a little longer you can freeze them for about a month. I find that this does have an effect on the quality after a while though.
I’m so excited for Halloween this year. ( ok, to be fair I’m always excited for Halloween…) I’ve got a ton of awesome crafts, cookies, and even a cake to share with you guys over the next few weeks so be sure to sign up for the mailing list to stay up to date with all of this year’s Halloween fun here at Ghastly Girl.
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