While Halloween is just around the corner at the end of this month, it’s always a good time to start embracing the festive spirit! October 1st is National Homemade Cookie Day, we thought it would be fantastic to showcase these scrumptious and delightfully decorated sugar cookies. They come to you courtesy of one of the sponsors of the US Pastry Team – Nielsen Massey.

You can opt for Halloween-themed cookie cutters or go for simpler shapes, giving your creative instincts run amuck! This versatile recipe is perfect not only for Halloween but also for occasions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah, Valentine’s Day, and beyond.

Nielsen Massey Halloween Decorated Cookies
Image: Nielsen-Massey

Spooktacular Sugar Cookies

Recipe courtesy of Nielsen-Massey

Yield: Approximately 36 cookies

Sugar Cookie Dough Recipe

All-purpose flour3 cups380 g
Baking Powder2 teaspoons
Salt3/4 teaspoon
Unsalted Butter, softened1 cup (2 sticks)230 g
Superfine sugar (purchase or process granulated sugar for about 20 seconds in a food processor)1 cup230 g
Heavy Whipping Cream2 Tablespoons
 Nielsen Massey® Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla3 1/4 teaspoons
Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract1/2 teaspoon
Eggs, large2 each
Confectioners’ Sugar (for dusting work surface)1/4 cup25 g
All-purpose flour (for dusting work surface)1/4 cup31 g

Almond Glaze & Almond Piping Icing Recipe

Confectioner’s Sugar1 1/4 cups125 g
Meringue powder1 Tablespoon
Water2 Tablespoons
 Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract1/2 teaspoon
Variety gel or paste food colorsAs needed

Directions for Cookies

Position oven rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two large, heavy light-colored baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt until blended; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add butter, sugar, cream, vanilla and almond extracts; beat with a handheld mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium-low; add eggs one at a time and beat after each addition. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients one half at a time.

Divide dough into two even pieces, press each piece into a disk shape, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Dough should be cool and firm but easy to work with.

In a small bowl, whisk confectioners’ sugar and flour until blended; set aside. Working with one piece of dough at a time, place on a clean, dusted surface. Roll dough to about 1/8-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut shapes and transfer with a thin offset metal spatula to prepared cookie sheets. For even baking, do not overcrowd cookies. Gather remaining dough, cover with plastic and chill. Continue with second chilled dough.

For best results, bake one sheet pan at a time until done, about 10 minutes; remove and place cookies on wire racks to cool. Decorate and store in an airtight container.

Directions for Almond Glaze and Almond Piping Glaze

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and meringue powder. Add water and almond extract, stir until smooth. Glaze cookies in desired colors and set aside to dry before piping. For the piping icing, remake the glaze recipe and add additional confectioners’ sugar, one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Divide icing into small bowls; add desired gel colors. Select pastry tips, prepare pastry bags and creatively pipe icing onto glazed cookies.