One of my favorite Halloween traditions is carving pumpkins into jack o’lanterns and I always carve at least a few every year. The spooky faces of carved pumpkins don’t always translate well into baked goods like cookies, because it is very difficult to carve out the eyes, nose and mouth of a cookie-sized jack o’ lantern unless you have a very sharp, small knife and a lot of patience. This Jack-O-Lantern Cookie Cutter Set, which I spotted at a recent trip to Williams Sonoma, makes jack o’lantern cookies as easy as putting together a Mr Potato Head. The set starts out with a heavy duty pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter and comes with a number of tiny additional cutters that make pumpkin eye, nose and mouth shapes. It’s fun to put together the different combinations and much easier than the hand “carved” method.
The only trick to using a detailed cookie cutter set like this one is that you need to use a cookie dough that won’t spread – or won’t spread very much – to preserve the neat cutouts on the pumpkin faces. Store bought sugar cookie dough (a favorite with kids doing holiday baking projects) will spread too much and won’t produce good results. A relatively stiff homemade butter cookie dough with a minimum of leavening agents (or none) is typically the best choice, like my Best Butter Cookie Dough. To dress it up to match your Halloween cookie cutters, mix a little black and orange food coloring into the dough and you’ll have very authentic looking Jack o’Lantern cookies.