Here’s a Halloween treat with its own set of tricks! Our clever cutters create cookies that look normal, but they break open to reveal sweet surprises inside. You can use the tool to build a cookie that’s covertly filled with small candies, frostings, caramel sauce or other fillings — or, if you like, make traditional cutout or Linzer-style cookies. Here’s how it works.
1. Make the cookie dough. Make a simple sugar cookie dough (see recipe below) that’s easy to roll and bakes into crisp cookies, rather than soft and chewy ones. “You want a cookie that will hold its shape and not spread when baked,” says our Test Kitchen Cook Melissa Stewart.
2. Cut out the cookies. If you’re making surprise cookies, you’ll need three cutouts for each finished cookie. First, cut out the three cookies, then press down on two of them to create a decorative imprint (we have a bat, skull and jack-o’-lantern). For the third cookie, turn the cutter upside down and use the plunger to cut out a hole in the center of the cookie.
If you’re making a Linzer-style cookie, you’ll need two cutouts for each finished cookie. Press the imprint into one of the cutouts, and plunge a hole in the center of the other.
3. Bake the cookies. Bake all of the cookie shapes, making sure to space them an inch apart. They should be golden brown around the edges; see the recipe below for timing. Cool on a wire rack.
4. Assemble & enjoy! Once the cookies are cool, use royal icing to assemble them. Fill a pastry bag with the icing and, using a small tip, pipe the icing along the edges of the cookies to adhere them. For the surprise cookies, stick the cookie with the hole in the center in between two imprinted cookies. For Linzer-style cookies, stick a cookie with the hole in the center on a single imprinted cookie.
When filling the surprise cookies, Melissa recommends sticking to small candies, like nonpareils or miniature chocolate chips. Nothing so hard they will chip teeth when you bite in!
For the Linzer-style cookies, try blackberry jam for a dark and moody cookie (you can also use food paste to darken it), and apricot jam for a festive orange hue. Or, try a chocolate ganache, Nutella or rich dulce de leche.
Halloween Surprise Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz./390 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) (6 oz./180 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Royal icing for assembly and decorating
Nonpareils or small candies for assembly
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Over a small bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour and continue beating until all of the flour has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 3/16 to 1/4 inch (4.5 to 6 mm) thick.
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using the Halloween surprise cookie cutter, cut out a cookie, then press down on the plunger to imprint the detail. If the dough sticks to the cutter, dip the cutter into flour before cutting out more shapes. For every third cookie cut, do not imprint a detail. Instead, turn over the cookie cutter and center the plunger over the cookie. Press down to cut out a hole in the center of the cookie. Using a small offset spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.
Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges, 12 to 14 minutes. If baking more than one sheet at a time, rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and 180 degrees halfway through baking.
Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
To assemble, place royal icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Place one of the imprinted cookies, detailed side down, on a work surface. Pick up one of the cookies with the center cut out and, using the pastry bag, pipe a line of icing around the edges of the cookie. Adhere to the cookie on the work surface, aligning the cookies’ edges. Place nonpareils or small candies in the recess. Pipe royal icing around the edges of the center cookie and place an imprinted cookie, detailed side up, on top. Align the edges and press to adhere. Repeat the process with the remaining cookies. Decorate as desired. Makes 12 surprise cookies.