"Trick or Treat?"
Welcome to the doorstep of my blog. Halloween is almost here and I have a treat for you!
With a sweet tooth as big as my head, I always look forward to the treats of the spooky season. As a kid, I'd proudly trek home on Halloween with both my trick or treat bag and my veins weighed down with as much sugar as each could handle. I would then dump all of my candy on the living room floor and meticulously sort it out. With an excitement compared to what I feel today when walking into Dylan’s Candy Bar, I would look over my sugary accumulation with glutinous fulfillment. As if each confection were gold, I took stock counting and organizing every piece. No missing candy would go unnoticed and no wrath would be held back from anyone who dared sneak something that I like. To this day, I will share anything with anybody, but don't touch my candy!
Everywhere you turn at this time of year there are cute and ghoulish edibles to be found, all with creative presentations perfect for parties or any spooky table setting. This past week, I've seen everything from cheese ball ghosts and human finger cookies, to graveyard cupcakes and ice cream cone witch’s hats. Martha Stewart has some of my favorite recipes and ideas. While there was plenty of inspiration, coming up with my own Halloween-themed treat was a bit of a challenge. It seemed like everything I could have imagined had already been thought of!
With both skulls and Halloween colors in mind, I eventually thought up these chocolate short bread cookie sandwiches with peanut butter buttercream filling. Using a regular round cookie cutter, skull shapes are formed by simply pinching in the sides a little bit past the center of the circle. A smaller round cookie cutter makes the eyes, and then a knife is used to cut out a triangle shape for the nose and a slit for the mouth. You can play around with the faces but even if you make them all the same, you’ll notice that they all kind of take on their own little personalities when baked.
Soon a masquerade of princesses, superheroes, and ghouls will be crunching up your driveway on fallen colored leaves in search of a treat. Be prepared to satisfy the sugary solicitation of your fiendish friends, big and small, with these spooky skull cookies.
Spooky Skull Cookies:
Yield: about two dozen sandwich cookies
Chocolate Short Bread Cookies
Recipe by Maria Helm Sinskey, Food and Wine
- 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Peanut Butter Buttercream (about 1 cup)
Recipe by Martha Stewart Living, January 2004
-2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- Fine salt (optional)
• For the cookies: in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla, and then beat in the cocoa on low speed. Beat in the flour and salt; the dough will be very soft. Divide the dough in half; wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll dough out to ¼ inch on a lightly floured work surface. Using a round cookie cutter, stamp out cookies. You can continue to re-roll the scraps, and stamp out more cookies.
• A little past the center of each of the cut out circles, pinch in to make a skull shape. Transfer the cookies to parchment paper–lined baking sheets. On half of the skull shapes, use a small round cookie cutter to make eyes. Use a knife to cut out a small triangle for the nose and a slit for the mouth. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until firm. Let cool.
• For the buttercream: cream peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed. On low speed, mix in sugar until combined, then beat mixture on high speed until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add salt to taste, if desired.
• After the cookies have been cooled completely spread the peanut butter buttercream on top of each plain skull cookie and top with skull face cookie to make a sandwich.