Bakery-style gluten free Halloween sugar cookies, made soft and tender, and shaped like sweet little pumpkins. Make your Halloween a spooky success!
I’m not what you’d call a very enthusiastic Halloweener. What I’m trying to say is, I always volunteer to stay home and answer the door. And if you show up at my house and just stand there in a costume, I’m just going to ask you how it’s goin’ and wait. At least give me a half-hearted “trick or treat.” Otherwise, it’s just, well, showing up at someone’s door. But I do like to bake, and I never like to miss a chance to show you how versatile our gluten free soft frosted sugar cookies can be (with or without the frosting). Happy gluten free Halloween, and all that.
These are the various phases of my psyche while making these cookies: worried/earnest (will people like my cookies?), crazy (normal for me, at any given moment), eye-rolling (maybe there’s something important behind me, and I can see it like this instead of just turning around). You can, of course, skip the royal icing and just bang these cookies right out in two shakes. But then how would you give your pumpkin cookies attitude? (Oh, and I found the pumpkin cookie-cutter a few years ago at Bed Bath & Beyond, I think, and I’m pretty sure it’s made by Wilton).
Two important facts about these soft bakery-style sugar cookies: 1. They are just like the delicious soft sugar cookies you always find at bakeries and the grocery store, all dressed up for whatever holiday is next; and 2. I used gel food coloring to make them orange, and since they are soft-baked, they stay orange instead of turning brown in the oven.
Tomorrow, some super-easy homemade candy. I make my kids dump all the candy they get from trick-or-treating, so I have to have even better stuff waiting for them at home. I know. My kids have a crazy mom (see crazy-eyes cookie above).
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (44 g) confectioners’ sugar
8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra large egg at room temperature, beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange gel food coloring (Americolor brand is gluten free)
FOR THE ROYAL ICING
2 fl. oz. (1/4 cup) water
1 1/2 teaspoons meringue powder (Americolor brand is gluten free – I found it on amazon)
3 cups (345 g) confectioners’ sugar
Black gel food coloring (or equal amounts red, yellow and blue gel food colorings)
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar and whisk to combine well. Add the butter, egg and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add the food coloring, and knead it into the dough. If you have disposable food-grade plastic gloves, it’s a great idea to wear them! The dough will be thick and relatively stiff.
Roll the dough between two sheets of unbleached parchment paper into a round a bit less than 1/3-inch thick. Using a pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter, cut out shapes and place them about 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. They will only spread a little during baking.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until just set in the center, about 8 minutes. The color of the cookies will lighten, but the baking time is not long enough for the cookies to visibly brown much at at all. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the baking sheet until set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the royal icing while the cookies are cooling. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the water and meringue powder and mix until foamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, and mix on low speed until the sugar is absorbed. Turn the speed up to medium and beat until thickened and creamy, about 7 minutes. To test the consistency of the royal icing, scoop some with a spoon and allow it to fall off the spoon slowly onto a clean portion on the side of the mixing bowl. It should stay where you drizzled it without running very much. To thicken, continue to mix on medium speed until it reaches the proper consistency. To color the royal icing, add black gel color to 1/4 cup of icing in a small bowl, and mix separately until the color is uniform. Pour the icings into separate pastry bags, fitting a #2 tip on the black icing and the #4 tip on the white icing.
Once the cookies are cool, pipe white eyes on the cookies. Allow to harden for a few minutes before piping black pupils on top. The royal icing will completely harden in 8 to 12 hours.