Yes, Halloween is over. But now is the time to run out and search for some ghost-shaped cookie cutters at the after-Halloween sales so you can make these cream cheese ghost sugar cookies next year!
As I told you yesterday, we did get to carve our pumpkins in time for Halloween even though we were in the middle of moving, but one thing I didn’t get done on time was the baking of my favorite Halloween cookies! Even though I knew that I probably wouldn’t get them done on time, I specifically set aside some baking supplies (including my special ghost cookie cutters) so that I could make these cookies after our house was packed up. I did manage to get the dough made yesterday, but they didn’t get cut and baked until this morning.
I love to bake cookies but I have to admit that rolled sugar cookies are my least favorite to make. I’m impatient so I hate the fact that the dough has to chill before you can roll it out. I also hate that I’m not fast enough at rolling and cutting so the dough gets soft and sticky before I manage to fill up a cookie sheet. Inevitably I end up with several misshapen cookies.
So why do I keep making these cookies year after year? Partly because my mom used to make them every year and I like to carry on the tradition. But mostly because they are my all-time favorite holiday cookie. They even beat out my favorite Christmas cookies!
The cookie recipe is pretty standard with one exception. Most sugar cookies contain only vanilla extract but this one uses vanilla and almond extract. It seems like a small difference but the almond extract makes these the best sugar cookies I’ve tasted. I’m not sure of the original recipe source but this is the sugar cookie recipe that my mom used for any holiday that required cookie cutters. The toppings are the only thing that vary from season to season and Halloween was the only time we would frost the cookies with sweetened cream cheese.
Although I did set aside some baking supplies, I did not keep my rolling pin. It’s just too heavy and I didn’t want to pay to ship it to myself in California. So, I made do with a wine bottle. It worked, but I definitely missed my rolling pin!
These are some of the cookies that I managed not to ruin!
Ah, the best part…cream cheese frosting!
And you mustn’t forget the chocolate chip eyes. Raisin eyes actually taste better on these cookies but I had some chocolate chips in the pantry that need to be used up before we leave.
The only problem with frosting these cookies with cream cheese is that once they are frosted, you can’t stack them. The best way I’ve found to transport them is on large sheet pans.
Basic Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 C. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
1 C. butter, softened
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. almond extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; set aside. In a separate bowl and using a mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and almond extracts and beat well. Add flour mixture a little at a time, blending well after each addition until it is all incorporated. Divide dough in half and wrap each portion in plastic wrap or waxed paper. Refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling (several hours is best).
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove one package of dough from fridge, divide that in half and roll out one portion at a time. Roll dough to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. Dough will soften quickly so work fast and always keep the extra dough in the fridge. Bake cookies for about 7 minutes or until just barely starting to color at the bottom. Let cool on wire racks.
To frost cookies: Blend together 8 oz. cream cheese with 3 cups of powdered sugar. Spread on cooled, baked cookies. Use chocolate chips or raisins for the ghost eyes. Orange food coloring can be added to the frosting if you want to make pumpkins instead of ghosts.
To paint cookies: mix small amounts of evaporated milk with desired food coloring. Paint unbaked cookies with small brushes then bake as usual. The colored evaporated milk doesn’t add flavor or sweetness, just color and shine.