Make your own Jack-o-lantern sugar cookies

Oh wow – this combines crafting and baking! Two of the spiffiest things to do in your spare time! AND, and…they are totally customize-able! You can make them as traditional or as wacky as you want. As soon as I saw these, I wanted to make these as a little ‘thank you’  for my spiffy boy’s teacher and her family last year. The original tutorial came from eighteen25‘s blog from guest blogger, Bee in our bonnet. Are you ready?

Bee in our bonnet has a great tasting and bakes to perfection sugar cookie recipe that I’ve used for this, but it got soft so quickly that if I got distracted for just a minute or two after rolling out the dough, I could hardly get the shapes onto the pan without them being totally distorted. So if you need a quick, easy to work with, and delicious recipe here’s my fave:

Sugar Cookies

  •  1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup crisco
  • 1/2 cup powder sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

*side note: I double this recipe most of the time*

Mix everything together in your stand mixer until completely combined.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out on a flour-dusted surface. The thicker you roll them, the softer they will be. For this, you don’t want them to be too soft or they’ll break in the process of making the “jack-o-lantern,” but I don’t like my sugar cookies too crispy either, so don’t roll them too thin;o) Bake for about 8 minutes or so, until they are slightly golden brown on the edges.

I used a ‘cresent moon’ shape cookie cutter for the mouth and cut spaces out for teeth on some of them, circles and triangles for eyes, cowboy hat and made  my own templates for accessories to cut out with a sharp knife (tear shapes, bows, etc).

Let cool completely.

In the meantime, make yourself some royal icing:

  • 1 cup water
  • 6 Tbsp. meringue powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you want white icing)
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon extract
  • 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar
Mix the water and meringue powder in the mixer until it is incorporated and slightly foamy. Add the extracts and mix for a second.  Then add the whole bag of powdered sugar.  Mix on low until it is all incorporated.  Then on high for a few minutes.  It will become fairly stiff.
If you’re new to royal icing like I was for this project the first time, go to Bee in my bonnet’s tutorial for royal icing and scroll to the bottom. They do an excellent job explaining all you need to know about royal icing, and there are definitely a few important things to know for success. If you know everything you need to know, then now is a good time to color your icing. Separate your icing into smaller bowls and add your color (cover your main bowl or the other bowls you aren’t working on with a damp dish towel so it doesn’t dry out). Be sure to mix thoroughly, so your color is solid and not marbled. Next add water, until you think your consistency is right. For this particular recipe, if you’re doing an outline on the shape, you’ll want about a # 15. For the filling, you’ll want a number between 5 and 9.  Spoon the icing into squeezie bottles or piping bag and cap them so they don’t dry out when not in use.
Use your creativity and start icing those cookies. My little spiffy kid loved icing these, but it wasn’t so easy for my younger girls. Apply the outline first, wait a few minutes and then fill with the thinner icing.  After applying the icing, pop any bubbles or bumps in the frosting with a toothpick.
How are they looking?  The first few are a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it, they will look great! Let them dry completely, overnight should do the trick, and then package them up – in a jar, gift bag, or however you like.
Take a few orange party paper plates and glue a small rectangle of any color to the edge to make a “pumpkin” and start playing around with faces if you’re keeping them. If they’re a gift, stack them nicely and place in a gift back to go with the cookies.
These were so fun to make and play with! My kids loved making crazy faces then taking a bite of then every so often. My little guy’s teacher thought they were amazing and he was really excited to give his teacher something he had iced and worked on by himself.  Great activity for the Halloween season!