Make Ghostly Pops for Halloween Fun

If you're already itching to decorate holiday cookies, why wait until Christmas?

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J.M. HIRSCH (AP Food Writer)

If you're already itching to decorate holiday cookies, why wait until Christmas?

Halloween is a great excuse to pick up some creepy cookie cutters and let the kids have fun decorating spooky kitties and ghastly ghosts. It's cheap, easy fun that can double as party food.

While any cookie dough intended for use with cutters would work, gingerbread is ideal because it stays fresh (meaning the cookies can be baked well ahead of a party) and is tough enough to stand up to rough handling by children.

To make the cookies more interesting, these are baked onto lollipop sticks. Children enjoy this novel way of eating a cookie and you get more display options for the party (such as sticking the cookies into a pumpkin).

Because gingerbread is a dark cookie, you will need to use a fair amount of food coloring in the icing to ensure coverage. When making the cookies, bake some dough scraps to use for testing the icing later.

Gel food coloring (available online and at craft and baking stores) works best. Black provides excellent coverage, as does white (though it is essential to add white food coloring to the naturally white icing). Orange may require several coats of icing for good coverage.

This icing recipe is a poured fondant, which is a thick, soft powdered sugar and white chocolate-based icing that can be poured (easiest and smoothest results) or painted onto the cookies. It will dry firm and smooth with a matte finish.

Use the fondant icing as the base coat and plan to make one batch for each color desired.

Additional decorations can either be added while the fondant is still wet (such as candies and sugar decorations) or once it has dried (such as drawing with the icing "pens" available at many grocers).

Sugar decorations, such as tiny pumpkins, bats, skulls, eyes and ghosts, can be purchased at craft and baking stores. These cost just pennies and make decorating fast and simple.

Don't be intimidated by the length of the recipe or number of ingredients. This recipe is combined for both the cookies and the icing; both are fast and easy to make.



Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours (1 1/2 hours active, including decorating)

Makes about 24 cookies


3- to 4-inch Halloween cookie cutters

Twenty-four 8-inch lollipop sticks

Parchment paper

Rimmed baking pans

Wire cooling rack

For the cookies:

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar

3/4 cup molasses

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon allspice or ground cloves

1 large egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 egg white

For the icing:

4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar

1/4 light corn syrup

1/2 cup hot water

1 cup white chocolate pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Food coloring (white, black and orange work well)

Various icing pens or sugar decorations

In a saucepan set over low heat, or in the microwave, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar, molasses, salt and spices. Transfer the mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, then beat in the egg.

In a large bowl, whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour, then stir these dry ingredients into the molasses mixture. Divide the dough in half and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Take one piece of dough from the refrigerator and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll out to about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment and use the cookie cutter to cut out cookies; leave them in place.

Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to coat one half of 12 of the lollipop sticks with egg white, then arrange them evenly spaced on two baking sheets (6 sticks per sheet).

One at a time, transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, placing each so that it rests on top of the egg-coated half of a lollipop stick. Use your fingers to gently press the cookie over the stick; do not press hard.

Bake just until the cookies are slightly brown at the edges and feel firm, about 8 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough and sticks.

While the cookies are cooling, prepare the icing.

Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl, then whisk in the corn syrup and hot water, stirring until smooth. Set aside.

In a saucepan set over very low heat, or in a double boiler or the microwave, melt the white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Add the melted chocolate to the sugar mixture, then add the vanilla and color. The icing will be smooth and fluid.

The icing is easiest to work with, and coats smoothly, at about 100 F. Keep it warm and covered, laying a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap on the surface to keep it from drying out and forming lumps.

To ice the cookies, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. With the cookies still on it, set one of the wire cooling racks over the baking sheet.

Using a spoon or spatula to control the flow, slowly pour the icing over the cookies. The icing should drape over the cookies, covering them with a thick coating. Excess will drip off into the baking sheet.

Let the cookies dry for a minute or two, then drizzle additional icing as needed for even coverage. Let the cookies set for several minutes, then pick up by the sticks and transfer to a clean sheet of parchment paper.

If decorating with candies or sugar decorations, add while the icing is still wet. Otherwise, let them dry to the touch, the using icing pens to decorate.

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