If you need an interesting, festive and fun Halloween treat to serve at your upcoming Halloween party or potluck, I have just the thing for you! These Halloween Windowpane Cookies are adorable and really fun to make. You can choose any design or color combo you like, so you can really let your creativity run wild!
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Helpful Tips on How to Make Halloween Windowpane Cookies
The basic construction of these cookies is pretty simple. Roll out sugar cookie dough and cut into large circles. Then use a smaller, Halloween-themed cookie cutter to make another cutout in the center of the circle. Fill that space with crushed hard candy, which melts in the oven as the cookie bakes.
When the cookie cools down, the sugar hardens again into a translucent "window" in the cookie. Pretty easy concept, but the results are really stunning! Read on for tons of helpful tips and tricks to help you knock these beautiful Halloween Windowpane Cookies out of the park the very first time!
What Cookie Dough Should I Use?
You can use either store-bought sugar cookie dough or homemade. I included my favorite recipe at the bottom of this blog post. I love it because the dough is on the softer side, meaning the cookies turn out soft and tender. But, the dough is still firm enough for the cookies to hold their shape.
If you have your own favorite recipe, feel free to use that one. Just make sure it's a sugar cookie recipe that is formulated to be able to be rolled and cut with cookie cutters. If you are using your own recipe and want to color your cookies black like I did, just be sure to mix the black food dye into the wet ingredients before adding into the flour. This will ensure the black food coloring is evenly distributed throughout the dough.
If you want to color your cookies but are planning on using store-bought dough, I would recommend buying a boxed mix that you stir together yourself, rather that the preformed log kind. This will allow you to still mix the black food coloring into the wet ingredients.
Tips on Rolling and Cutting Halloween Windowpane Cookies
Here is the easiest method I could find to cut out these Halloween Windowpane Cookies. First, roll out half of your dough on your work surface to about ¼ inch thick. (For me, only rolling out half of the dough is easier than trying to work with the whole batch at once!)
If you are making black cookies, use generous amounts of granulated sugar on your work surface to roll out the cookies rather than flour. That way the black color of the cookies will stay true rather than coming out dusty looking!
Once the dough is rolled out, use your large circle cutter to cut as many circles as you can out of the dough. If you need to, use a thin metal spatula or dough scraper to scrape the cookies off the work surface. Then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Once the circles are arranged on the cookie sheet, use the smaller Halloween cookie cutters to cut out the shapes from the center. Doing it in this order prevents you from having to handle the fragile cookie and likely damaging its shape in the process!
To more easily remove the dough from the center of the cookie, I like to give the cookie cutter a little squeeze across the narrow side as I lift it up. Nine times out of ten the cookie comes right up as you pull up the cutter!
You can re-roll the excess scraps and repeat the process right away. Or, if the dough is now too soft, wrap it up and stick it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so before rolling again.
A Quick Warning About Black Food Coloring!
And here's a warning for you - when I rolled out the cookies, the dough left a slight black cast on my kitchen table, but it wiped away with just the normal vinegar cleaner I regularly use. I can't say for sure if the black will transfer onto other types of surfaces, so if you are concerned about your table or counters, roll the dough out on a cutting board or other surface you aren't concerned about getting stained (just in case!).
What Candy Should I Use?
I tested this recipe with Jolly Ranchers, Life Savers, Dum Dums and Charms lollipops. All of those worked except the Life Savers. They didn't seem to melt as well as the others and left me with kind of a lumpy result.
Of course you can try other types of hard candy that you like! If you want to be extra cautious, you can bake off one cookie and see how the results are before making the rest of the batch.
You will need between one and two small candies per cookie, depending on the size of your cutout and the size of the candy. For the largest cutouts I had, like the pumpkins, I needed about two and a half per cookie.
How Do I Decorate Halloween Windowpane Cookies?
First of all, make sure the cookies are fully cooled before starting to decorate, otherwise any icing you add will melt!
I used Betty Crocker Cookie Icing (affiliate link) to decorate my cookies. Then to make the black accents, I squeezed some out into a ramekin and mixed in some black food coloring with a bamboo skewer. I then used the skewer to paint on the black icing.
You could also make your own cookie icing if you want to. Just make sure it's the kind if icing that hardens fully when it dries. This makes the design last longer and it's easier to store the cookies!
Also, don't feel constrained to stick with how I decorated my cookies. You could go wild and add googly eyes, different colored frostings, even edible glitter!
How Do I Store Halloween Windowpane Cookies?
Make sure the icing is fully set before storing the cookies. To be safe, I would wait at least 4 hours. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to 3 days. It is very important the container is airtight otherwise the candy centers could get a bit tacky.
To make sure the designs on your beautiful cookies stay pristine, layer the cookies with a square of parchment paper in between each one. This will help prevent black cookie crumbs from sticking on the white icing.
What Other Equipment Do I Need?
Here is a full list of the special equipment I used to make these cookies:
Cookie Cutters: I used a 4 inch diameter circle from this set of round cookie cutters (affiliate link), and Halloween shapes from this set (affiliate link) that were about 2 ½ inches in length. This made sure there was enough room around the outside of the Halloween shape to keep the cookie from breaking.
Black Gel Food Coloring: the first time I made these cookies, I used a different brand of black liquid food coloring. Even though I added a lot, the cookies came out grey! Then I found this Super Black Soft Gel Paste (affiliate link) and I knew I was on the right track! The cookie dough came out pitch black without even having to add a ton.
Metal Dough Scraper: if your cookie gets a little stuck to the counter, just shimmy this underneath to unstick the cookie without distorting its shape. This is especially helpful if your dough is more moist like my recipe. I love this dough scraper (affiliate link), but if you don't have one, a thin metal spatula would also work!
Parchment Paper or Silicone Baking Mats: crucial to prevent the melted hard candy from sticking to your baking sheet!
I hope these Halloween Windowpane Cookies help you rock out your next Halloween party! If you’ve tried this recipe, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments down below, I would love to hear your thoughts! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to see more delicious recipes from me!
If you are already looking ahead to Thanksgiving, I have a great dessert for that too! Check out my recipe for Cranberry Upside Down Cake!Print
Sugar cookies with fun Halloween cutouts, filled with hard candy to make "windows." A beautiful and spooky Halloween treat!
For sugar cookie dough (see note 1):
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 ½ c. all purpose flour
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. black gel food coloring (optional) (see note 2)
Assorted hard candies (about 18 - 30, depending on size)
Cookie icing (store bought or homemade) (optional)
Make the cookie dough:
- Beat the softened butter and sugar together, using a stand or hand mixer, until smooth (do not overmix).
- Add in the egg, vanilla, and black food coloring (if using). Mix until smooth and evenly incorporated. If using the black food coloring, the mixture should be very black. If not, add a bit more food coloring and mix again.
- With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the dry ingredients and mix until evenly combined. Split the dough into two and wrap each half in plastic wrap, shaping it into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days.
Shape and bake the cookies:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove half of the dough from the fridge. Very generously sprinkle a work surface with granulated sugar and place the dough on top (see note 3). Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar and roll out to about ¼ inch thickness. If the dough is too firm to roll out, let sit for 5 minutes and then try again.
- Use a large round cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles. If needed, use a thin metal spatula or metal dough scraper to gently remove the circles from the work surface. Place the large circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Using a cookie cutter that is small enough to fit inside the larger circle without touching the sides, cut shapes into the center of each circle and remove the dough from inside. (You can bake the center shapes as-is or re-roll it into more circles.)
- Place hard candies of the desired color inside a double layer of zip-top bags. Using a hammer or heavy rolling pin, crush the candies inside the bag (do this on a surface you aren't worried about getting banged up!).
- Evenly fill each cutout with crushed candy until it reaches the same level as the top of the cookie. Depending on the size of the candy and cutout, you will need about 1 - 3 candies per cookie.
- Repeat with the remaining half of the dough. Bake the cookies for 10 - 11 minutes, or until the candy has fully melted and the edges of the cookies are firm to the touch.
- Leave the cookies on the baking sheet until the candy has solidified, about 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.
Decorate the cookies (optional):
- When the cookies are fully cooled, use the cookie icing to pipe designs onto the cookies.
- Allow the icing to harden fully (for at least 4 hours) before storing in an airtight container.
- You can also use store-bought sugar cookie mix. On the package, follow the directions for cutout cookies. If using, add the black food coloring to the wet ingredients.
- I used Super Black Soft Gel Paste from AmeriColor, if using a different brand you may need more or less food coloring.
- The black dye didn't stain my kitchen table, but I can't guarantee this for other types of surfaces I haven't tested myself. If you are concerned about the black dough potentially staining your work surface, roll the dough out onto a cutting board or other surface you don't mind getting stained (even the back side of a cookie sheet would work).
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