5 Quick Jack-o-Lantern-Themed Cookie Recipes

Sometime in the next few days, you are likely to need a treat for a Halloween party. And what says Halloween yumminess more than a jack-o-lantern cookie? Here are six delicious recipes ranging from decorate-it-yourself ones for the kids to one with (yum!) chocolate and peanut butter and even a healthy one with yam dressing for good measure.

Peanut Butter Cracker Sandwiches

Here's a cute no-bake pumpkin cookie your kids can make with you, from Food.com.

You need:

  • 2 Ritz crackers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • 1 to 2 ounces almond bark or 1 to 2 ounces vanilla candy coating or 1 to 2 ounces white chocolate or 1 to 2 ounces orange candy melts
  • Orange food coloring
  • Red food coloring
  • Food coloring (pens or decorator gel)
  • Green sprinkles

Make it:

1. Melt almond bark. Add 1 drop each of red and yellow food coloring and stir (if it seizes up from the liquid, add solid shortening and stir).

2. Dip crackers let dry on waxed paper-repeat for more. Before they dry, draw 2 curved lines from so they look like this ( ) to make it resemble a pumpkin.

3. While still wet stick a green sprinkle (you could use anything else to make the stem too such as cut gumdrop) on top. Draw jack-o-lantern face on with gel or food coloring pen.

4. Sandwich peanut butter between crackers.

Glowing Jack-O-Lanterns

These cookies from Epicurious use hard candies to give a lit-up effect.

You need:

  • 1/3 cup hard candies
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Red and yellow liquid coloring or orange paste coloring
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Make it:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment, foil, or a Silpat mat (not wax paper, which will stick).

2. Unwrap the candies if wrapped, put them in a heavy ziplock bag, and crush them into powder with the flat side of a meat tenderizer or the bottom of a saucepan.

3. Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until creamy, and then blend in the egg, lemon zest, if using, lemon juice, and food coloring. Begin with 6 drops of red and 5 drops of yellow liquid coloring or a dab of orange paste; add more to achieve your desired shade. Stir well until fully combined.

4. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the bowl, and mix well.

5. Roll half of the dough out on a lightly floured surface and cut out 8 big jack-o’-lantern shapes with a cookie cutter, or freehand with the tip of a paring knife. Make short, fat pumpkins about 4 inches wide by 3 inches high, or make tall, thin pumpkins about 4 inches tall and 2 to 3 inches wide. You want some variety here! Use the knife to cut out big eyes, nose, and mouth in each (don’t do a lot of teeth -- they tend to break off). Keep in mind that you want the eyes, nose, and mouth to be wide enough to hold the melted candy. Carefully lift the pumpkins with a spatula and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Use the tip of the paring knife to push back the eye, nose, and mouth openings to make them as wide as possible without losing the bridges of dough between the features. Repeat with the remaining dough half.

6. With the tip of a small spoon, sprinkle candy powder generously into the eyes, nose, and mouth openings, directly to the parchment. Try to keep the candy off the surface of the cookies.

7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, watching carefully. Remove as soon as the candy has melted; don’t let the surface of the cookies brown. They should be just set and very pale.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets, or carefully lift the parchment off the sheets and transfer the whole sheet to cooling racks (only if the racks are big enough to hold the sheet). When the cookies are completely cool, carefully peel off the parchment.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies

If you'd rather not have dessert at all if the dessert is not chocolate, or if you love peanut butter cups, these delicious-sounding chocolate and peanut butter pumpkin cookies from Serious Eats should be your kind of thing.

You need:

  • 1 1/2 cups (about 7 1/2 ounces) flour
  • 1/2 cup (about 2 1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (about 7 ounces) sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 4 tablespoons peanut butter

Make it:

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.

3. Add flour mixture to bowl and beat until just combined. Dough should come together, if too crumbly, add 1 teaspoon water.

4. Form dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator for one hour.

5. Adjust oven rack to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. Divide dough in half and roll one half out onto a lightly floured surface to a thickness of approximately 1/8th-inch. Cut out 12 pumpkins using a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter and transfer to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

7. Using a paring knife, cut jack-o-lantern faces into 1/2 of the cookies. Bake cookies until just dry on top, about 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

8. When completely cooled, spread top of faceless cookies with about 1 teaspoon of peanut butter (more or less depending on how much you like peanut butter). Top with a face cookie to complete sandwiches.

Other ideas

Square jack-o-lanterns from LilaLoa are great for your design-snob friend's party. The tutorial to decorate them is linked; she also has a recipes for the cookie part under the recipe tab.  

These clever cookies from In Katrina's Kitchen let kids (or grownups!) decorate their own jack-o-lantern with parts created from candy melts or dark chocolate. Recipe (scroll down for link) and tutorial available on the site.

Healthy Spelt Cookies

These cookies from Mothering.com are a good alternative for kids with wheat allergies, or if you just want a somewhat healthier treat ... and the yam frosting should please the food police.

For cookies:

You need:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup honey or sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup rice, soy or cow's milk
  • 3 ½ cup spelt flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. mace

Make it:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add salt, baking powder, and mace to flour. Set aside.

3. Cream butter. Add sugar or honey in thirds to the butter and cream after each addition. Add half of the egg yolks at a time and cream after each addition.

4. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture.

5. Add milk and mix into a ball. Cover with waxed paper and refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

6. Roll out with a rolling pin between two pieces of waxed paper. Cut with cookie cutters or roll and pat flat with your hands.

7. Lay cookies on buttered pan and bake for 15 minutes or until as brown as you like them. Remove from cookie pan and cool on counter.

For frosting:

You need:

  • 1 cup mashed baked yams
  • ¼ cup softened cream cheese or silken tofu
  • 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange juice

Make it:

1. Place yams, cream cheese, butter, syrup and juice in a bowl and cream together. 

2. Puree this mixture with a hand mixer or in a food processor to a smooth, spreadable consistency.

What's your favorite Halloween cookie?

Image via davitydave/Flickr

Read More >