Jack o’ Lantern in a Jar!

Happy Halloween everyone!!

c/o Good Housekeeping

This is totally one of my favorite holidays, mostly due to the fact that I have an October birthday and Halloween was always the theme of my parties growing up.  So I suppose that is the sentimental reason for my love.  The other reasons would be: the awesome fall weather that happens in October (minus the snow and frigid temperatures this weekend), all of the pumpkin flavored and generally fun food options, dressing up in funny costumes, stuffing my face with candy….well, obviously I have a laundry list of reasons!

When I found this post on eighteen25’s blog, I couldn’t wait to bake these adorable sugar cookies.  Not only are the cookies and icing delicious, the presentation is darling.  I found myself wishing I had my own kids to make these for.  Then I thought, “who says you need to be a kid to enjoy this?!” and promptly planned when to make them.

Sugar Cookie Recipe:
2 cups of butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
6 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs, vanilla, almond and lemon extracts; mix until just combined.  Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in separate bowl, then add dry ingredients into the wet a little bit at a time.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Break the dough into 3 equal parts and shape into long flat rectangles.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight is best.

*Note: This is about as much as one kitchen aid mixer can handle. It’s the equivalent of a double recipe and makes plenty of dough. The amount that you get out of it will depend on the size and thickness of your cookies.

Now that the dough is chilled, take it out and set it on the counter for about 5 min before you work with it.  Break the piece in half.  Generously flour your surface and rolling-pin, then roll and cut as you please.

Place cookies on a non-stick baking sheet (preferably with a sil-pat – cookies just slide right off) and bake in a 375° oven for about 6 min (you can add more time if needed). You don’t want them to be brown, just touches of golden on a few corners, yet you do want them cooked all the way through.   Let cool completely before icing them.

Tip: Don’t forget that you don’t necessarily have to have a cookie cutter shape, for everything you want to make. There are a million cookies you can make out of simple shapes.

Royal Icing Recipe:
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 pound bag powdered sugar

Mix the water and meringue powder until incorporated and slightly foamy.  Add the extracts and mix for 5 seconds.  Sift in the powdered sugar gradually and mix on low until it’s incorporated.  It should become fairly stiff.

The tricky thing about royal icing is the consistencies.  For piping on borders, you need thicker icing (like the consistency you get when you first make your icing).  For filling in the middle, you need thinner icing.  You thin out the icing by adding water, just a little bit at a time.

Decide which colors you want to use – I picked black, purple, green and a yellow-orange.  I decided to only pipe in black and purple to save time.  Mix your colors in the coordinating consistencies of icing (in separate little bowls) and then fill a squeezie bottle or pastry bag and get going!  Be sure to keep your big bowl of icing covered with plastic wrap while you are working so it doesn’t get crusty on top.

Once you pipe on your borders and let rest for about 10 minutes, you can start filling them in.  Either thin out your existing icing, or make a new batch (just be sure the colors are consistent).  Once that layer is dry, you can add more detail if you wish.  {for time purposes I did not do that, I kept mine rather simple}

Let the cookies dry completely, I left mine out overnight, before you stack and store them.

Tips: Be sure to mix in the food coloring thoroughly so you don’t have streaky/marble-y icing.  Watch for bubbles that form and pop them with a toothpick so they don’t mess up the smooth effect.  Buy a big bag of plastic squeezie bottles at a craft store and just use smaller icing tips if necessary.

Supplies for assembly:
Mason jars
Orange spray paint (for lids)
1″ ribbon
Hand made tag

Place a large amount of cookies in each jar and seal with the orange lids.  Tie a ribbon around the jar and adorn with a cute little tag.  I suggest using orange plates and making little faces on them before eating the cookies!  Adorable, right??

Here’s one of Ashleigh’s photos with the faces all set up!

Makes: enough for 5 or 6 jars, depending on size
Time: cookie making – 20 min prep / 4 hours chilling / 40 minutes cutting/baking
cookie decorating – several hours, depending on how elaborate
Source: Bee In Our Bonnet via eighteen25

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