slice and bake halloween cookies

Sure, Halloween is the best holiday of the year for the obvious reasons: costumes, candy, parties, the whole nine. But I personally love Halloween because it is the official start of slice and bake cookie season. When Halloween rolls around, the grocery store shelves are suddenly stocked with slice and bake cookies with cute little jack-o-lanterns or spooky ghosts inside. If you’re anything like me, you may feel like you’re wasting what little money you have left on eating entire sleeves of slice and bake cookies. Well, I’m here to tell you how to make your own! This recipe is for a black sugar cookie with a white ghost in the middle, but once you’ve got it down pat, feel free to mix up the designs and colors!

Of course, you could follow any sugar cookie recipe you may have lying around the house, but if you’re brand new to this whole baking thing like I am, here’s a list of things you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups of granulated sugar (That’s just regular sugar. I get so mad that recipes always say granulated sugar because it always sends me into a spiraling confusion.)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • black and white gel food coloring (Remember, these colors are just for the sake of this particular recipe. You have total creative control!)
  • 1 egg white
  • small Halloween-themed cookie cutters (Really make sure they’re small! You want the designs small so that they can fit inside a regular-sized cookie.)
  • optional: colored sprinkles, edible glitter, or anything you may like to decorate the outside of the cookie dough log with

I also recommend a mixer. You could do it by hand like a Keebler elf, but a thicker dough like this is a lot easier to get through if you have a mixer.

Once you’ve got all that, it’s time to start making the dough!

  1.  Start by combining the butter and sugar in a bowl. Mix them until there are no chunks of butter left. Make sure you don’t mix too much; you want a thicker dough that will hold up, and too much air or fluff in the dough will make the cookies spread. You don’t want your ghost looking like the blob.
  2. Now you can add in the vanilla extract and the two eggs.
  3. Combine the flour and salt and mix that in a little at a time, until everything is incorporated and the dough is nice and smooth.
  4. Here’s where the fun part starts! Take the dough out, spread it out fairly evenly and separate about a quarter of the dough. That quarter will be for your designs, and the larger portion will be the cookie surrounding it. So, mix in the white food coloring with the smaller portion for your ghost, and mix in the black food coloring for the rest of the cookie dough. Make sure you really work in the colors—you don’t want streaky cookies!
  5. Once you’re satisfied with the color of your dough, roll out the white dough (your design dough) until it’s about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Then stick it in the fridge until it’s firm. In the meantime, wrap the black dough (your cookie dough) in cling wrap and leave it at room temperature.
  6. Take out the white dough when it’s firm and get out your little ghost cookie cutter! Get as many little ghosts out of that dough as you can. I don’t care what you have to do. Re-roll it, space those cuts as close as you possibly can–do whatever you need to do in the name of all things slice and bake. After you have all the little ghosts, put them on a baking sheet and freeze them until firm (this should take about 10-15 minutes).
  7. Remember that egg white I said you’d need? Here’s where that comes in! Combine the egg white with about a teaspoon of water. Take your frozen ghosts out, brush one with the egg white and water, and stack another one on top of that. Continue until all the ghosts are stacked. Make sure you’re super precise. You want the ghosts to stack evenly in a perfect line. Press hard to really make sure the ghosts are sticking to each other. When you’ve got a ghost-shaped log of cookie dough, put them back in the freezer. To ensure they’re really firm and not at risk of falling apart, you should keep the log in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes.
  8. Once you take out the ghosts, unwrap your black dough and roll it out into several strings of dough. The purpose of cutting the dough into little ropes is so that you can cover the ghosts completely and precisely. Work around its little arms and tail and make sure that there’s black dough surrounding every inch of those white ghosts. When you’re done, simply roll out the log. The cookie dough log should take on a circle or square shape. Make sure there are no air pockets or crevices between the ghosts and the black dough.
  9. If you want to cover the outside in sprinkles or edible glitter, now’s the time! Put the sprinkles in a pan and roll the dough log in it until there is an even coating. Then, wrap your log tightly in cling wrap, and you’ll want to refrigerate this until it’s totally firm (I’m talking around two hours in the fridge).
  10. Once they’re firm, preheat your oven to 350 (degrees fahrenheit, that is). Don’t be disheartened if the end of the cookie dough log is super awkward. It’s like a loaf of bread; you’re not going to bake with the two edges. Slice them off and eat them. Literally just eat them. You’ve worked so hard. With the edges gone, you should now have a beautiful black dough log with a cute white ghost in the middle! Slice the dough about 1/2 inch thick, and now you should have adorable ghost cookies to pop in the oven! I’m excited for you.
  11. You’re almost done, I swear! Pop the cookies in the oven until they’re a little puffy in the middle, and all set and firm around the edges. This should only take about 10 minutes. Remember, because you dyed the dough black as night, you’re not waiting for the cookies to get golden brown or anything. Just make sure you keep an eye on the cookies as they’re baking and remember: a soft middle is better than a crunchy middle! When they’re done, let them cool for a few minutes and you’re good to go!

Feel free to recreate this with any design for any holiday. Happy baking!

Header image courtesy of Sugar Hero.

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