Sunday, October 31, 2010
This is Halloween! This is Halloween!
I'm not sure it's a good sign that it's 8am and I already can't get the song from Nightmare Before Christmas out of my head! However, if you don't already have Halloween cookies, you may need to start making them now, because in my opinion this is really a whole day affair. Between the mixing of the dough, the refrigerating of the dough, the rolling of the dough, the cutting of the cookies, the freezing of the cookies, the baking of the cookies, the cooling of the cookies, the mixing of the royal icing, the dyeing of the royal icing, the frosting and decorating of the cookies, you can absolutely keep yourself (or your kids) occupied until the witching hour.
I used Martha Stewart's Maple Roll Out Cookie recipe for the dough. It's really delicious, but a the flavor is a bit delicate and I felt it was a bit of a waste on the ghosties who needed to be drowned in royal icing anyway. Far better to save the maple recipe for something unfrosted. Also, and I'm not sure why this didn't occur to me before, but your brain is really anticipating "sugar cookie" when you bite into one, so there's always this element of "huh" followed by "Oh yeah! This is yummy!" which is perhaps a bit more mental processing than I'd like with my dessert.
What you need to know about using Martha's recipe:
I know this is probably not going to come as a surprise to you, but the lady is a liar. I made a half recipe, because being a sane rational person who is not giving gift boxes to everyone I'd ever met, I don't need 8 dozen cookies. The half recipe made 2 and a half dozen and it's probable that I rolled them too thin to try to eke out that many. And although this is certainly enough for the two of us, it's possibly fewer than you want. If do you choose to make half recipe, really try to savor the moment where you need half an egg yolk. Afterward, try to figure out who you can feed three quarters of an egg to - my answer? Ryan. You also might want to start with a shorter cook time. Mine took about 10 minutes. Blame my oven or how thin I rolled them - either way we would have been looking at some burnt treats if I'd let it go as long as her.
Colored Pumpkins, oh boy!!:
To get half your cookies pumpkin colored, separate your dough in half. Set half aside for ghosties. Then mix 5 drops yellow food coloring and 4 drops red of McCormick Assorted Food Coloring. You can blend with a mixer a bit, but do finish kneading by hand to get rid of any streakiness.
I am a complete disaster when it comes to royal icing. Seriously. Don't listen to me. I'm not showing you the ghosts that didn't come out well. Also, I made a really small amount because I didn't actually need that much, which meant whipping by hand. Stupid. Update: You'll be a happier person if you check in with Words to Eat By. Debbie knows her stuff.
Royal Icing Advice:
If you're making them for anyone who is squicked out by raw egg, or you know is a child, pregnant woman, elderly person, person with a compromised immune system, use meringue powder. I used the recipe on the back of the meringue powder container. Not fancy, but functional. I piped on details by putting the icing in plastic baggies and poking a teensy hole in the corner. Mix your color in a bowl, not the baggies, ignore anyone who tells you otherwise. They are sadists and are probably cackling evilly as they write that direction. I poured the icing over the ghosts which takes somewhat more icing than you may think. Also let that harden completely before doing eyeballs. It takes a few hours to harden.