Halloween was a huge deal when I was a kid. My mom always made our costumes. Before her tribe became seven, me and my big sisters would take off on Halloween eve– unsupervised – and hit the neighborhood. Back then, candy bars were full-sized, and you needed a sturdy pillow case to carry your stash.
We weren’t afraid to go into a neighbor’s home and eat a handful of freshly popped popcorn, or snag several beautifully decorated Halloween cookies before hitting the next house.
Things have definitely changed since then, but one thing has been constant for me, and that is the Halloween cookie.
Sharing the baking experience is a full-on family event. My granddaughters love joining in at the decorating stage. My kitchen turns into sprinkle heaven and their creations are always the best.
Pumpkin shaped cookies take on an entirely new persona. They can be carefully piped and sprinkled with just the right amount of décor, or turn into a dumping ground of nothing but icing and sprinkles!
And of course, taste testing the final product is the best part of the entire process.
I use the same recipe for all my holiday cookies -- Betty Crocker's Deluxe Sugar Cookie recipe. The secret ingredient in this cookie is the cream of tartar. It makes the cookie light and crisp.
The icing I use is a modification of a recipe from my old friend, Butch the baker. We worked together back in the day at the Stock Market Foods bakery in Silverdale, WA. Butch used high ratio shortening in his icing. My twist? I use good old butter.
Are you ready to try your hand at these? The sugar cookie recipe is available on the web -- it's called "Classic Sugar Cookies", but it's the same recipe I have in my 1972 Betty Crocker cookbook.
Here's the recipe for my icing. If you use butter, the icing will have a slight yellow tint. I never let that bother me. I go more for the flavor. If you want to whiten it for your spooky ghosts, try a couple drops of purple food coloring.
1 pound butter 2 pounds powdered sugar 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste 1/4 cup milk, half-n-half or cream
NOTE: You have to use a really good mixer -- like a KitchenAid.
Place the butter in the mixer and beat until it's fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, a couple cups at a time, alternating with the milk and vanilla.
Once all the ingredients have been added, you need to beat the you-know-what out it! Put that mixer on medium to medium high and beat it until it is light and fluffy. If it's too thick, you can add more milk, but add it a tablespoon at a time. You'll notice that the more you mix it, the lighter the color is as well.
Divide and tint the icing.
Apply a generous amount to each of your cookies.
Add sprinkles or pipe on your design.
For more about Billie, check out her bio page.