Sugar cookies with fun Halloween cutouts, filled with hard candy to make "windows." A beautiful and spooky Halloween treat!
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, plus more for rolling dough
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups (320 g) all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon black gel food coloring (optional) (see notes 1 - 2)
- 14 - 16 Jolly Ranchers candy (or other hard candy, see note 3)
- Cookie icing (store bought or homemade) (optional)
- round cookie cutter - approximately 4 1/2 inch (11.4 cm) diameter
- mini Halloween cookie cutters - between 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) and 3 inches (7.6 cm) in size
- parchment paper/silicone baking mat
Make the cookie dough:
- In a small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside.
- Add the softened butter and sugar to a separate large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the softened butter and sugar together, using a stand mixer or hand mixer, until smooth.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and black food coloring (if using) to the butter and sugar mixture. Mix on medium speed 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. If needed, switch to mixing the dough with a wooden spoon. Scrape down the bowl occasionally while mixing.
- Split the dough into two equal pieces 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 F (177 degrees C).
- Remove half of the dough from the fridge. Set a large piece of parchment paper on a work surface. Very generously sprinkle the paper with granulated sugar and place the unwrapped dough on top (see note 2). Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness. If the dough is too firm to roll out, let sit for 5 minutes and then try again.
- Use a 4.5 inch 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 them into more circles.) If desired, smooth out any rough edges of the cutouts with a butter knife.
- Place one unwrapped Jolly Rancher into the center of each cutout.
- Repeat steps 2 - 5 with the remaining half of the dough. Bake the cookies for 9 - 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 before storing in an airtight container.
I used Super Black Soft Gel Paste from AmeriColor (affiliate link), if using a different brand you may need more or less food coloring.
To ensure the black food coloring doesn't stain any surfaces, roll out the dough on a sheet of parchment paper. If concerned about potentially staining your rolling pin, add a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough before rolling (but still add the granulated sugar on top of the dough before adding the parchment paper, this will help prevent sticking!).
When working with the cookie dough, if it becomes too soft and you are having trouble rolling or cutting, place the dough in the fridge for 5 minutes.
If desired, you may substitute other types of hard candy for the Jolly Ranchers (except Life Savers - I have tested these and they do not melt well). If using a new type of hard candy, I recommend experimenting with one cookie only before baking the entire batch to ensure it melts well and you are happy with the results.
Once the icing is fully set, 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 may become tacky as they absorb moisture from the air.
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: 1 cookie
- Calories: 337
- Sugar: 27 g
- Sodium: 180 mg
- Fat: 13.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 8.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 50.9 g
- Fiber: .6 g
- Protein: 2.9 g
- Cholesterol: 48 mg
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