Classic buttery thumbprint cookies get a creepy Halloween makeover for these party-ready eyeball cookies. Easy decorating with frosting, chips, and red gel!
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Table of Contents
- About Eyeball Cookies
- Do you have to use margarine?
- Do you have to chill the dough?
- Can you make these cookies in advance?
- How long do thumbprint cookies last?
- Can you freeze baked thumbprint cookies?
- notes & tips for these eyeball cookies
- More fun hallown recipes
- Other great cookie recipes
- How to make eyeball cookies
- Recipe Details
About Eyeball Cookies
Halloween may be all about the candy, but the real fun is in the baked treats. And like these eyeball cookies show, it’s easy to repurpose favorite classic recipes into something creative and spooky.
Because if you look closely, these are thumbprint cookies that have been given a Halloween makeover. And for those that might not know, thumbprint cookies get their name from the fact that you use your thumb to create a small well in the center of the cookie, and you can fill that well with all sorts of fun things.
Such a glob of frosting.
With a chocolate chip in the middle.
And red gel around the outside for that just-woke-up-from-the-morgue look.
Or in other words, you can fill thumbprint cookies with a homemade eyeball for a lot of Halloween fun!
Do you have to use margarine?
This recipe uses two types of butter: “standard” butter and margarine.
Margarine was very popular in older recipes like this one, but over time, that’s become less common because the ingredients in margarine have changed. Margarine used to have a lot more fat than butter, but from what I understand from my limited research, that’s no longer the case.
So, that begs the question: do you have to use margarine in this recipe?
I always have used margarine, so I don’t have any advice to give based on personal experience, but this discussion on Chowhound has some good info that can help you make the choice for your own baking.
Do you have to chill the dough?
Because this recipe uses a lot of butter, you may want to consider chilling the dough for 1-2 hours before baking.
As for me, I have never chilled this dough and have always been happy with the results, so the recipe instructions do not mention chilling.
However, if you’re curious what chilling does do cookie dough and whether or not you’d like to try it for this recipe, be sure to check out this article: Chilling Cookie Dough: Does it Make a Difference?
Can you make these cookies in advance?
Yes, you totally can!
To ensure that the cookies don’t get soggy from the frosting, plan on making the cookies within 24 hours of serving.
How long do thumbprint cookies last?
One prepared, decorated thumbprint cookies can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four to six days.
Can you freeze baked thumbprint cookies?
Yes! You can totally freeze these cookies, but there’s a catch.
I can only recommend freezing the cookies before they’ve been decorated. Save the decorating for after the cookies have been thawed.
For best results, allow the baked and undecorated cookies to cool completely, then arrange them in a single layer (without touching) on a baking sheet or large plate. Freeze the cookies first, then once completely chilled, they can be transferred to a sealed container or freezer bag of your choice. If possible, separate layers of cookies with wax paper or parchment paper.
When stored correctly, baked cookies can be frozen for up to two months.
notes & tips for these eyeball cookies
- If you’re doing a lot of baking, I highly recommend having some silicone baking mats on hand. Baking cookies takes enough time without having to cut or measure parchment paper. Or if you prefer using parchment paper, you can try using pre-cut parchment paper sheets instead.
- Plus, some quality baking sheets are a must for a cookie baking extravaganza!
- For this recipe, I highly recommend using a stand mixer or a hand mixer. This recipe would be difficult to make by hand with a whisk.
More fun hallown recipes
Other great cookie recipes
How to make eyeball cookies
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – In a large bowl, whisk together flour and powdered sugar until thoroughly mixed, then set aside.
Step 2 – Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), whip together the butter and margarine until fluffy.
Step 3 – Add the vanilla and dry ingredients to the mixing bowl, whipping until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated into the butter. Turn off the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl to collect any wayward butter or flour, if needed.
Step 4 – Using a cookie scoop, scoop out some of the dough and roll it into a ball. Place the cookie dough ball on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat this step until all the dough has been rolled into balls.
Step 5 – Use your thumb or the back of a spoon to gently press down on the cookie dough balls, creating a well in the center.
Step 6 – Bake!
Step 7 – While cookies bake and cool, whip together the frosting by missing unsalted butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Transfer the prepared frosting to a pastry bag.
Step 8 – For each cookie, add a dollop of cream cheese frosting, top it with a chocolate chip (placed upside down), and then ring the edges with red gel frosting.
Step 9 – Serve and enjoy!
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup margarine, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 24 chocolate chips, type of your choice (I used milk chocolate)
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
- 4 ounce cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Thumbprint Cookies
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and flour, then set aside.
- Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), cream butter and margarine together on medium high speed until fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
- Drop mixer speed to low and add vanilla extract, then blend for 30 seconds.
- Keeping speed on low, quickly add dry ingredients to the wet. Tip: use a 1/3 or 1/2 measuring cup to continually scoop the dry ingredients in while the batter continues to mix (see above video for example). Continue to mix until dough begins to cling to the beater and has a soft and smooth texture, about 2-4 minutes.
- Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out dough and roll it between your hands. Place finished cookie ball on prepared baking sheet. Repeat this step until all dough is used, placing cookies about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
- Use your thumb (or the back of a spoon) and press into the center of the cookie dough, creating a small well. See above video for example.
- Bake cookies for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the sides of the cookies are puffed and bottoms of cookies begin to turn a light golden color.
- Let cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
- Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer + large bowl), cream butter and cream cheese together on medium high speed until fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.
- Drop mixer speed to low and pour in powdered sugar and vanilla extract, blending thoroughly until frosting is smooth.
Putting it all Together
- Place cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag with a large round tip (I used decorating Tip-A (big round tip)). Pipe a small dollop of frosting in the center of the thumbprint cookies. If necessary, smooth out the top of the frosting so it's round like an eyeball.
- For each cookie, place one chocolate chip upside down in the center of the frosting so that it looks like a pupil.
- Pipe a ring of red gel around the frosting. If desired, use a toothpick to either smooth the gel line or pull out some tendrils into the white frosting to create a cracked or bloodshot look.
- Allow frosting to dry completely before serving or storing.
I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.