Happy Halloween, everyone! It’s time for the annual Halloween F-Art, so let’s make a Spooky Cooky!
Directions: In a large bowl, cream the shortening and sugar together with an electric mixer (~3 minutes). The mixture will look fluffy. Mix the eggs in one at a time. Then mix in the milk and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. I used 1T of “apple pumpkin spice” from Penzy’s spices. This is a mixture of cinnamons, nutmeg, mace, and cloves. If you want to make your own mix, I’d say a good approximate would be 2 t cinnamon + 0.5 t cloves+ 0.5 t ginger + 0.25 t nutmeg.
Add the flour mixture to the crisco-sugar mixture in batches, and mix just until combined. The dough will be really soft at this point, making it incredibly hard to roll out. To fix this, refrigerate the dough for at least one hour. I finished this at 11pm, so I left it in in the fridge overnight.
When you’re ready to roll and cut your dough, preheat the oven to 400ºF and line your baking sheets with parchment paper or your favorite non-stick liners. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4″ thick.
Cut the dough with your spookiest cookie cutters. I used my collection my Mom gave me last Holiday season.
My cookie cutters have detail in the top, so if you want to get the smiley face of the pumpkin on your cookie, you need to be a bit particular with how you use them. Scoop out some all purpose flour into a shallow dish or bowl. Coat the cookie cutter, sides and top, with flour, but make sure to tap off any excess.
Pick up the cut dough with a floured spatula and use floured hands (keeps the dough from sticking to your oily fingers) to transfer the cookie unto lined cookie sheets. Collect the leftover scraps of dough, re-roll, and re-cut shapes until you have used all of the dough. In between rolls, you might try putting the dough back in the fridge to help it re-harden. Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes, or until the edges have JUST started to brown.
Move the cookies to a cooling rack, being careful not to tear the cookies (they are still soft right out of the oven, but they will firm as they cool). Cool completely before decorating!
Directions: In a small bowl, mash together the softened butter and vanilla extract with a fork.
In a medium bowl, measure the powdered sugar and put the mashed butter-vanilla on top. Using the fork, mix together the butter-vanilla mix and powdered sugar until evenly distributed. As long as you don’t see giant clumps of butter, you’ll be OK. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time and stir well to combine. The frosting should be liquidy at the end. And don’t worry about lumps. Just keep mixing, and they will disappear.
Aliquot (divide) your frosting into smaller bowls to add the food coloring. For Halloween, definite must-haves are orange and black. For orange, add 1 drop red for every 3 drops of red food coloring until you like the hue. For ~ 1/3 of this recipe, I used 2 red and 6 yellow. Black isn’t an easy color to reach with food coloring. Try going to a local baking specialty shop nearby for a black dye. I have a black candy dye, and it saves me a headache every time!
Decorating: Once you have all the colors you’d like to use, you’ll need the following tools: a small spoon for each color, lots of toothpicks, and paper towels. It’s also a great idea to draw out how you want to decorate the cookie before you start. (That way you’ll have fewer “sacrificial cookies!”) Use the spoon to spread a little of the frosting on the cookie of choice. This frosting tends to set quickly, so you’ll want to add details like eyes and mouths as soon as you can. Use the toothpicks to drip the frosting to make eyes. This frosting is really great because the frosting will sort of melt into the existing layer for a smooth finish. The trick is to let the frosting drip to make those details. If you try to paint the details on, then you’ll lose that smooth finish. Sorry I don’t have any pictures, but if you’re worried about it, you can practice by layering on paper towels!
Another way to decorate the eyes is to use red hots. I didn’t have too many left in my jar, so Joe went into the kitchen and cut up some red jelly beans. You can see them on some of the owls and bats. They were a bit big for oogly eyes, but it sort of makes them look more possessed.
So I hope you didn’t fill up on too much Halloween candy and that you’ll have some time tonight to make some of these for yourself!
Enjoy and Happy Halloween!