Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies

Most people who know me will tell you I am not a big fan of Halloween. Sure, I love the excuse for purchasing massive amounts of candy sans guilt of any kind; the warmly-glowing light of jack-o-lanterns, which in some cases have really intricate artistic designs; and when kids go door-to-door trick-or-treating and seeing all their fun costumes and how they march with determination from one side of the street to the other, chanting “trick or treat!” and filling their baskets, buckets, and pillowcases with sweet bounty. It’s just maybe that I didn’t grow up with the tradition of Halloween orNoche de Brujas, as it is known in Argentina, and it’s also because I’ve never been into scary movies of any kind. I don’t find the hair-raising thrill of being scared appealing at all; I’m not into vampires, ghouls, goblins, or spectral-like creatures that emerge from below. I do enjoy stories that have intrigue: mystery novels, detective stories, and even Celtic legends full of myth and lore, but that’s as far as I can go.

I’m such a mild-mannered Halloween observer that my other tradition is to watch my favorite movie for this time of the year: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Yes, I know, too cute, but it’s a classic! I love the music of this Peanuts show. What really gets me is the dynamic between the siblings, Linus and Lucy; the first one a firm believer in the Great Pumpkin, and Lucy, the great doubter. I so love the world of Peanuts, and living in Minnesota, I see how the cartoon shows the aesthetic of Schultz’s childhood in the Twin Cities, with its snowy winters, ample parkland, and peaceful walks to school. For me, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown really captures the trick-or-treating I see on my block. 

My annual Halloween tradition consists of watching the Peanuts classic; throwing a backyard bonfire party, during which we chat, drink cider, make s’mores, and also have some freshly-grilled brats as the main source of sustenance; and supporting the neighborhood’s trick-or-treating effort by handing out candy and festooning my front steps with the usual jack-o-lanterns and candles. I don’t do a lot of baking for Halloween. I usually bake the buns for the bratwursts from scratch, and if you want to do so, I recommend using my recipe for Asian milk bread (just don’t shape them into bears). I also make cat-shaped chocolate cookies with a recipe I’ve had since I was 16, and I bake these frosted soft sugar cookies. These frosted soft sugar cookies are sort of similar to the Lofthouse cookies you find at most grocery stores. They’re thick cookies with a soft and tender crumb, lots of buttery flavor, and hints of vanilla and almond. They work as a blank canvas for any of the year’s holidays. Just change the color of the frosting and the décor you sprinkle on top, and you can customize them for Hanukkah, Christmas, 4th of July, a birthday party, or in this case, Halloween. The advantage of a homemade recipe is that you can choose better ingredients and avoid unhealthy ones like high-fructose corn syrup, margarine, or shortening. This recipe relies on refined coconut oil and butter and they yield a soft and delicious cookie that is very easy to make and is topped with a luscious cream cheese frosting. You will find that grocery stores usually have their Lofthouse cookies frosted in pastel colors, so I have done the same here. I like using pastel colors, and it’s super fun to experiment with different shades with different amounts of food coloring to make the different pastel hues. Using sprinkles is a must, and for Halloween, I used some candy eyeballs and fishtails as a nod to the spooky aspect of this holiday. For the photos here below, I used two different types of sprinkles, one relying more on pink and purple, and the other relying on green and blue. If you don’t already have a favorite Halloween cookie, consider making these frosted soft sugar cookies, and I promise you, you’ll be rewarded with a sweet pan of nostalgia, perfect for whatever occasion you’re celebrating.

Happy Halloween! I hope you had a fun weekend whether you celebrate Halloween or not, whether you go trick-or-treating, design a costume, made jack-o-lanterns, ran through a sunflower field, or baked these cookies.

Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook Time: 10 mins

Servings: 18-24 cookies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup cane sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup refined coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

For the frosting:

  • ½ cup cream cheese (do not use low-fat), softened
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Food coloring of your choice
  • Sprinkles and other décor, like candy eyeballs

Instructions:

Make the Cookies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and have a rolling pin and 2 ½ to 3 inch cookie cutter handy for shaping the cookies.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, salt, and baking powder, whisking well until combined. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the butter and refined coconut oil until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes, until the mixture becomes paler.
  6. Add the egg, followed by the vanilla extract, almond extract, and milk.
  7. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dough comes together. If the dough seems dry, add 1 more tbsp milk to help it come together. 
  8. Remove the dough from the bowl and stand mixer and, using your hands, pat it into a round disc. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to 1/3 inch thickness.
  10. Make cookies by cutting squares or circles using a 2 ½ or 3 inch cookie cutter.
  11. Carefully lift each cookie and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  12. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. If you want a firmer cookie, bake for an additional 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly golden: this will yield a firmer cookie.
  13. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack with a spatula.

Make the Frosting:

  1. Beat the softened cream cheese and butter together until fully combined.
  2. Add the powdered sugar in increments of ½ cup, followed by the vanilla extract. Make sure that no granules remain, and that the frosting is smooth. If you prefer a lighter frosting consistency, add 1 tbsp milk. Conversely, if you want to make it thicker, add an additional tbsp or so of powdered sugar.
  3. Finally, add drops of food coloring to the frosting. If you are planning to use multiple colors, remember to separate them into individual bowls.

Assembly:

  1. Use about 2 tbsp frosting per cookie, spreading it on the top of each cooled cookie. Use a knife to create a swirling motion if you like those big swoops.
  2. Top with sprinkles and, if making Halloween cookies, with candy eyeballs too, or with any other décor you may like for the season.
  3. Let the frosting set. The frosting will be soft, but it will set overnight, so store them flat, without stacking.

© 2021 Carol’s Baking Adventures

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s