Monthly Archives: October 2014

Jack-O’-Lantern Sugar Cookies

Halloween, the night of October 31, that the kids in the neighborhood dress in costume and solicit candy or other treats door-to-door will soon be here. So it is a perfect time to make sugar cookie cutouts in the shape of jack-o’-lanterns.

It’s easy to transform a basic sugar cookie dough into delightful Halloween treats. Using cutters shaped like the jack-o’-lantern or your favorite spooky cookie cutter you can cast a magic spell over you family’s Halloween. The jack-o’-lantern is my favorite symbol of Halloween so that is my choice of cookie cutter.

I used a Williams Sonoma jack-o’-lantern cookie cutter that allows you to “Just press firmly to cut the edges, then depress the spring to release delicate shapes embossed with fine detail.”

jacolantern cookie cutter

cookie cutter

“The jack-o-lantern actually started from an old Irish folk tale, based upon Stingy Jack who liked to steal from his friends and play mean tricks on his family. When Stingy Jack died he was not allowed into heaven but was forced to wander with only a turnip with an ember as its light.

On all Hallow’s eve the Irish used hallowed out turnips as their Jack’s lanterns originally. However, immigrants to America, found pumpkins more plentiful than turnips.”*

*Source for the above can be found at Pumpkin Nook

So began the tradition to use a hollowed-out pumpkin in which holes are cut to represent facial features and lit with some sort of light, the jack-o’-lantern.

I discovered the recipe for this cookie from a 2002 Taste of Home Magazine but the same recipe is available on a lot of recipe web sites.

The cream cheese adds richness to a classic sugar cookie and the cookies practically melt in your mouth. The recipe below is only slightly varied from the one in the Taste of Home magazine.

Jack-o'-Lantern Sugar Cookies

  • Servings: 4 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

1 cup butter, softened
3 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon orange food coloring, gel type if available

In a bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar. Beat in egg yolk and extract and then add the food color. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or until easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with your favorite cookie cutter dipped in flour. Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

jackolantern cookies

Tips for making the cookies: If the dough comes out of the fridge too hard, just let it stand for a while until easy to handle. And if you take too long to make the cookies and it becomes too soft, put it back in the fridge to let it chill. Also, make sure the dough is on a well floured surface for rolling and dip cookie cutter in flour before each use and flour the rolling pin well also.

A 2-1/2 inch cookie cutter will yield approximately 4 dozen cookies. I used a 3 x 2-3/4 inch cookie cutter which yielded 21 cookies.

Apple Turnovers

Fall trees

Autumn is here and with it comes the beautiful colors of the season. The leaves changing color are a sight to see. This time of year in western Michigan means that fresh local apples are plentiful. Wonderful desserts are just waiting to be made from them. One easy and fairly quick dessert is the Apple Turnover. Combining apples and prepared frozen puff pastry allow you to turn out great tasting Apple Turnovers. Puff pastry has a flakiness and puffiness that a pie crust just doesn’t have. By using already prepared frozen puff pastry from your local grocer, the apple turnovers are a snap to make.

I couldn’t find much on the history of Apple Turnovers but did discover this snippet of information:

“A turnover is a sort of small, typically individual pie or pasty, in which the filling is placed on one side of a piece of rolled-out pastry and the other side is then turned over’ to cover it, forming a semicircular shape. The term is first recorded at the end of the eighteenth century: an old woman preparing her turnovers, commonly called apple-pies’ (Sporting Magazine, 1798). It is occasionally used for savoury fillings, such as meat, but a sweet fruit filling is the norm, and, as the above extract suggests, most turnovers are in fact apple turnovers.” Cited in Food Timeline

This recipe is based on one that my Dad made when I was a child (he was the cook in the family). Of course, he would have used a homemade pie crust instead of puff pastry.

Apple Turnover

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Apple Turnovers

Ingredients

3 cups peeled and diced Golden Delicious apples, or your favorite cooking apple
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 package (2 sheets) Pepperidge Farm Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed (or your favorite brand)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Combine the apples, cornstarch, vanilla extract, cinnamon and sugar in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook stirring frequently for 5-10 minutes, until the apples are softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the flour on the work surface. Defrost puff pastry per package directions and lay out in one flat sheet on the floured surface. Divide the sheet into four equal squares using a very sharp knife.

Spoon 1-2 tablespoons apple mixture into the center of each square. Don’t overfill the square. Fold the puff pastry from corner to corner to form a triangle shape. Seal and crimp with a fork. Brush egg wash evenly over the top of the turnovers. This will give the pastry a nice golden color when baked. Cut 1-2 small slits in the top of each filled pastry.

Bake each batch for approximately 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.

Note: Puff Pastry works best when cold. Work with one Puff Pastry sheet at a time, keeping the other one in the refrigerator until ready to use.

apple turnovers