Halloween week is here! This year is extra exciting because it’s our first time celebrating with our little beefcake. Since he is crawling and on the move, I decided to make Smith a turtle costume so he could participate in the fun. My sewing abilities leave much to be desired, so the turtle shell may not make it through All Hallows’ Eve. Oh well. I am hopeful my costume-making skills will improve exponentially as Smith grows older. After all, Halloween has long been one of my favorite holidays and I want to share (and probably vicariously relive) that same fun and excitement with my kids.
I have so many fond memories of Beggar’s Night. Trick-or-treating wasn’t widely-celebrated in our part of the county, so my parents would take us to a neighborhood across town where some of my parent’s good friends lived. Oh baby, was it the motherload of all neighborhoods. The majority of the houses handed out full-sized candy bars and there were fabulous decorations. There were even a few people who foolishly left baskets of candy unattended outside. Looking back, I’m wondering if this was some sort of child psychology experiment; in which case, I surely failed.
After we’d made our rounds in the subdivision, we would go home and divide our candy into piles and revel in all the sugar that sat before us. I can vividly remember lying on the carpet in our living room one Halloween, still in my costume, and pouring all of my candy over my body in pure joy. Life, for the moment, was perfect.
As for the recipe…. I made these spooky chocolate sugar cookies in the spirit of Halloween this past weekend. They are a great break from the traditional sugar cut-out cookies and I will definitely be keeping this treat in my mind for future baking endeavors. Smith is still too young to eat cookies, but I’m hopeful he and I can start baking up Halloween sweets in the years to come. Right now, though, I’m having too much fun enjoying my little turtle. 😊
Spooky Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies
Yield: 3-4 dozen cookies (depending on the cutters you use)
For the cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp instant espresso powder
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
For the royal icing
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 6 tablespoons water
1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the vanilla and instant espresso so that the espresso powder begins to dissolve. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides as needed. Next, add in the vanilla/espresso mix and the cocoa powder. Beat until well-combined. Scraped down the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure the ingredients are well-incorporated. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
2. While the dough chills, make the royal icing. Place the powder sugar and meringue powder in a bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk together the powdered sugar and meringue powder. Gradually add in the water. You may need to add more based on the desired thickness. Store in an airtight container until ready for use.
3. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out a fourth of the dough on a lightly-floured surface to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out cookies using the cutters of your choice (I used a standard gingerbread cookie and bat for this particular batch). Place unbaked cookie cut outs on baking sheets lined with silicone sheets or parchment paper. Bake for 9-11 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cook on a baking rack.
4. To decorate, place royal icing in piping bag fitted with small round tip. Pipe decoration as desired. Allow the royal icing to harden completely before adding facial features with toothpick and black food coloring.
Source: Cookies slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen