This is the first time I’ve ever made Sugar Skulls! For the past couple years, I’ve wanted to make some cookies to focus on Dia de Los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead” festivities, and I finally got the chance!
I wanted to feature rich fall colors, so I chose a pumpkin orange, russet red, chocolate brown, and bold eggplant. Then I crossed my fingers & hoped they would look okay together…
I searched for images of of ‘Dios de Los Muertos,’ and I kept all of the ideas up near me on my laptop while I set to work. The ending result was a dozen cookies with a handful of unique designs as I pieced together bits from several sources. I love how they turned out!
It did surprise me that it took several minutes to decorate each skull (not counting the base layer of white flood first). I’m a very “by-the-book” person, and it was a mental exercise for me to be creative with each cookie’s details!
Therefore, I was really proud of the full set once I finished with them! I think they will always be very special cookies, reserved to just make a few of each year due to the time involved, but I’m definitely in love with Sugar Skulls now!
Although this is our second fall season since moving to Texas, this is the first one that we’ve had a chance to appreciate. Last year, I was buried under a 3000+ cookie order for the month of October, so it’s been really fun to have some time to play around with neat, easy cookie designs this year!
First up, Festive Caramel Apple Cookies!
I’ve seen caramel apple cookies before, but there was one little detail always missing… the “caramel” icing didn’t look gooey! I consider myself the #1 Caramel Apple Fan ever, and the BEST part is the ooey, gooey, drippy caramel! So… I devised a way to make the apple cookies look as closely as possible to the real thing.
I used this cutter for my apple-shaped cookies:
Since I was planning to add a popsicle stick to the finished cookies, I trimmed the leaf & stem from the cookie shape before baking. Once the cookies were baked & cooled, I iced them in a deep red color, and let that dry for a few hours before moving on to the next step.
To ice the “caramel” on the cookies, I prepared the overlap surface. I lined a baking sheet with waxed paper (parchment paper would work as well). I spaced the cookies a little further apart than usual, to allow for the icing to pool over the edges. Next, I flooded the cookies with the caramel-colored icing, making sure to really apply it to the edges of the cookie so it would spill over onto the waxed paper. (I wanted a few cookies to have festive sprinkles, so I added them at this point.) Then, without moving the cookies, I let the entire pan dry solidly overnight.
The next morning, I very carefully peeled the waxed paper from the back of each cookie (not the other way around!), and added the popsicle sticks to the back. Using a stiff piping icing in the colors I had on hand (I think mine was purple, but it doesn’t show, so don’t worry about matching!), I piped a stiff line of icing & firmly attached a stick 1/3-1/2 of the way down the top of the cookie. I let that dry for a few more hours, and that’s it! Easy Caramel Apple Cookie Pops!
For some other fun apple cookie ideas, check out these “Happy Apple Cookies” with a fun personality! I also made some cute apple minis a few years ago, along with some personalized apples for the boys’ teachers. They are ALWAYS well-received.
Next up, I made a few Classic Pumpkins to go with the Caramel Apple cookies, too.
To add dimension, I iced the sections of the pumpkin cookies in two stages: sections 2 & 4 first. After allowing 20-30 minutes for those first sections to crust a bit, I iced sections 1, 3 & 5. I waited another 10 minutes or so before using a bit of brown piping icing to add the stems.
Start to finish, I probably iced these pumpkins completely in just under 1 hour. They are pretty & so perfect for fall!
I know it’s the wrong season now, but chalk this up as another entry in the “Never-On-Time” series of posts.
I first started dreaming of a pumpkin-flavored sugar cookie last year (Fall 2010). I did a bit of researching, but it seemed that putting moist canned pumpkin into a cookie caused the dough to be too soft for traditional roll-outs. I didn’t have time to practice last year, so my idea was pushed to the back burner instead.
THIS YEAR, however, I put my thinking cap on & approached the idea in a new direction. I had made some dog biscuits & cookies for a friend last February, and I learned something in the process. The dog biscuits called for pumpkin, but when I made the dough, I thought to myself, “This doesn’t smell like pumpkin at all!”
I recalled how, every fall, my pumpkin pies don’t “smell like pumpkin” either until I add some spices. In fact, I don’t think canned pumpkin alone has much of a flavor (fresh is different, of course). However, if you wave a tin of “Pumpkin Pie Spice” in front of my nose, I’m practically drooling with anticipation of the pumpkin-y goodness ahead.
Using that knowledge as my guideline, my Pumpkin Spice dough was born!
And even though there isn’t any actual pumpkin in the dough, I promise your nose will be fooled while these babies are baking! The aroma is absolutely magnificent!
I tweaked my usual sugar cookie dough in a few ways. Instead of all-purpose flour, I decided to use whole wheat flour. The nutty flavor you get from this switch is a PERFECT complement to the spices. If you want a milder flavor, feel free to stick with all-purpose flour as usual.
Additionally, I traded out my granulated white sugar for light brown sugar. I mixed dark brown sugar as an option, deciding the extra moisture from the molasses might be problematic for spreading, and I even split the light brown sugar with organic turbinado sugar as well. The turbinado sugar is the same light brown color, but it is drier, and provides flecks of sweet *crunch* in the cookie, too.
Aren’t these cookies beautiful?!
Pumpkin Spice Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
(recipe by Nicole Cleghorn)
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 2-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. milk
- 2-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light & fluffy (about 3-4 minutes on medium speed). Add in the turbinado sugar, and cream for an extra minute or so. Add the baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; mix well.
Add the egg & milk; beat well. Add the flour, mixing until well-combined. The dough should be soft & not sticky. Turn out onto sheets of waxed paper & roll. Cut out shapes, and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat liners. Freeze sheets for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 365°. Remove cookies from freezer and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to have a hint of brown. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Decorate with royal icing, if desired. These are FABULOUS plain, too!
A friend of a friend contacted me in July, wanting to order cookies for her wedding reception favors at the end of October. I jumped at the chance, wanting to finally be able to say, “I’ve done a wedding,” when people ask. (I had made cookies for a rehearsal dinner before as a gift, but that was as close as I’d gotten.) Meagan and I began communicating, and we became fast friends over the next few months.
Meagan needed about 300 cookies, but because the cookies needed to travel all the way from Minot, North Dakota, to the deep-south Georgia, I made plenty of extras “just in case.” I made an entire extra dough’s worth of cookies, giving her a total of 331 cookies.
I only have two 1/2-sheet baking pans, but I used every other pan in my collection, as well as the plastic lids, to lay out as many cookies as possible at a time. What you see above is about 1/4 of the cookies before decorating. (And iTunes, of course. Handy-dandy iTunes is what makes most of my nights possible. I swear, these cookies wouldn’t exist if I didn’t have showtunes to sing-along with!)
This past Thursday was to be the second game of the season for Jack’s soccer team. In addition, it was also our family’s designated “snack night.” Any guesses to what I made?
Soccer balls! (Naturally.)
But there is a tale of tragedy and woe. You see, the gods of rain began havoc in the soccer fields beginning on Wednesday morning. They continued straight through until Thursday night. Yes, the night of the game.