These Halloween Neapolitan Cookies are a simple variation of my “regular” Neapolitan Cookies. Using SunCore Purple Sweet Potato Powder for the purple stand in, these cuties are anything but scary. Jet Black Cocoa Powder provides the deepest, almost black color, with intense chocolate flavor.
Halloween Neapolitan Cookies are super fun and festive. They make a great project with kids- super easy. And the combination of flavors makes them delicious as well. Whether you like to eat each flavor separately or just dig in wherever, these cookies are a show stopper for any party or after-school treat.
M&M’s has at least three fun Halloween colors/flavors as of this writing and they’re all tasty in this cookie. Purple Sweet Potato powder does the trick for getting that deep purple flavor (if you can’t find it, gel food coloring also gives you the desired effect). Cocoa powder is taken to the next level with jet black cocoa powder, and once I tried the black cocoa powder in a previous recipe, I like to have it on hand now.
The prep for Neapolitan cookies seems like it’s very involved, but with the help of a stand mixer (or hand mixer), and kitchen scale (or good estimation on your part), these are ready to bake in about 15 minutes- max. These cookies are not only colored for pretty presentation, the colors happen with the addition of natural flavors only (if you use the sweet potato powder). This keeps the flavors bright and fresh-tasting, and is sure to please everyone’s palette. Here are a few notes about what I did to ensure these are the best Neapolitans ever:
Purple Sweet Potato Powder-
Purple Sweet Potato Powder is easy to buy these days, also known as Ube flour or powder. Many local grocers carry it but I purchase it online. This powder is fun to have on hand for baking and we also add a few tablespoons to smoothies now and then. If you’re wanting to use natural ingredients for food coloring, this is a good one to try.
Cocoa Powder and Instant Espresso Powder-
You can make the Halloween Neapolitan cookies with whatever type of cocoa powder you have, but I like to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder and even black cocoa powder when I have it. This increases the dark color of the chocolate part of the cookies for increased contrast. I also add 1/4 teaspoon of instant espresso powder. The addition of espresso powder amps up the chocolate flavor-richness of these cookies without adding any “coffee” taste. The times I forgot to add the espresso powder, we definitely noticed the chocolate was a little flat tasting.
I add just a little lemon zest to the purple dough. This addition enhances the flavor of the cookies just enough to take them to the next level. You can add lemon zest to the vanilla dough as well.
Sugar Cookie Dough-
The base for the cookies is a simple and fresh tasting sugar cookie dough that takes on the flavors for the purple and brown sections of the cookies just right.
Can Halloween Neapolitan Cookies be frozen?
You can make the Halloween Neapolitan Cookies at least a month ahead of serving and freeze until the day you need them. Let the cookies cool completely, then place in freezer bags or containers. The day you need them, remove from the freezer and sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
The cookie dough can be made and shaped into the cookies shown below and frozen at this point as well. The day of baking, remove the dough from the freezer and let sit for 45 minutes to an hour, until the M&M’s or candy decorations can be easily pressed into the cookies. Then bake as instructed.
How to assemble Neapolitan Cookies-
You can assemble the Neapolitan cookies a few different ways:
- I prefer to take one piece of each dough, lightly squish them side by side together and then insert into the cookie scooper (I use a large 2-tablespoon scooper). Press them in firmly but not super tight, then remove with the click of the scooper. Repeat until you’ve combined them all. This is my favorite way because most people like to be able to bite each flavor individually and this is the prettiest method, and it goes quicker than you might think, especially if you can get some additional helping hands.
- If you like to combine the colors so they look a bit more marbled, don’t worry about lining them side-by-side and instead kind of combine haphazardly. Again place into the cookie scooper.
- Some bakers make the balls and then randomly place them into a loaf pan, pressing together slightly. Then scoop each cookie out of the loaf pan, not worrying about getting an even amount of each color. This method is super easy if you don’t care if the flavors remain distinctly separate. But you should know, almost all my taste testers LOVED biting off individual flavors for much of the time.
- You can also just roll the balls into one bigger ball with your hands if you like.
What are some natural ways to color sugar cookie dough?
The Neapolitan effect of these cookies is so pleasing to the eye and irresistible. I’m sure you can come up with lots of color and flavor combinations. Here are a few that I’m looking forward to:
Culinary matcha powder (green); Blue pea powder (blue); dried strawberries- I love Trader Joe’s for these (pink), just to name a few. Before you buy colored powders, check the reviews because some colors don’t stay vibrant when subjected to heat.
I hope you try these fun cookies. They’re really as good as they look! If you love baking and especially when it comes to cookies, be sure to try my Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies, Molasses Cookies, and of course, my “regular” Neapolitan Cookies.
Until next time, happy baking and creating!
Halloween Neapolitan Cookies
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 2 ½ tbsp Purple Sweet Potato Powder, (see note for alternative) Suncore brand is what I use
- 2 tbsp Dutch-process cocoa powder, or black cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp instant espresso powder, optional
- 1 cup Halloween M&M's or other colorful candies, as desired
- Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheep pan with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine 2 ½ cups flour, 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, ½ teaspoon baking soda, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat 1 cup butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add 1 ¼ cups sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add 1 egg, 1 yolk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla, and beat on medium speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.
- Dump the dough out onto counter or work surface and divide it into three equal portions. Put one-third of the dough into the mixer and add ½ teaspoon of lemon zest. Then add 2 ½ Tablespoons sweet potato powder, mix on medium until fully incorporated and the dough is a lovely purple throughout. Set aside.
- Add another third portion of the dough into the mixer and add 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder. Mix on medium until the dough turns absorbs all the cocoa powder and turns a nice dark chocolate (or black if using black cocoa powder) color. Remove from the bowl.
- Pinch small portions (about ½ oz or ½ Tablespoon size) of the vanilla dough until all the dough has been portioned. Repeat with the purple and then the chocolate dough. You will now have several small balls of all the dough ready to be combined.
You Can Create Your Neapolitan Cookies a Few Different Ways:
- I prefer to take one piece of each dough, lightly squish them side by side together and then insert into the cookie scooper. Press them in firmly but not super tight, then remove with the click of the scooper. Repeat until you've combined them all. This is my favorite way because most people like to be able to bite each flavor individually and this is the prettiest method. 2. If you like to combine the colors to mix and marble a little more, don't worry about lining them side-by-side and instead kind of combine haphazardly. Again place into the cookie scooper. 3. Some bakers make the balls and then randomly place them into a loaf pan, pressing together slightly. Then scoop each cookie out of the combined dough. This method is super easy if you don't care if the flavors remain distinctly separate. 4. You can also just roll the balls into one bigger ball with your hands if you like. Top with a generous amount of M&Ms or whatever colorful candies or sprinkles you are using, pressing them firmly into the cookies. Place 6 or 7 cookies on the baking sheet, about 2 ½-inches apart. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, until the sides are set and the cookies are puffed. The edges will still be light in color and the bottoms barely golden. This is my taste testers favorite way, but if you like a little more crunch, remove the cookies when the edges are barely turning.
- Remove the baking sheet to sit on top of your stove and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
- Alternative for getting purple color- If you can't find Purple Sweet Potato Powder, gel food coloring will provide good results. Wilton brand Violet is a good option. The gels are concentrated, I would start with a half teaspoon and add additional until desired color is achieved. The colors mute a bit during baking.
- Black cocoa powder is super fun for these cookies and you can use it for other baking projects as well, so it's nice to have on hand. Black cocoa powder provides a rich dark chocolate flavor. If you use regular Dutch processed cocoa powder, the cookies are still adorable, just not as dark.