Monday, October 27, 2014

Unbury the undead ... it's all about chocolate cutout cookies!

The great thing about decorating Halloween foods is that it's perfectly fine to be a little messy. If you're decorating angels and elves for Christmas, you want them to look pretty.

But it doesn't matter if your Halloween ghosts and gremlins are a little lop-sided.

I had a lot of fun assembling these coffin cookies. Since I didn't want bright white "mortar" holding the coffins together, I tinted the royal icing with food coloring (and a little bit of cocoa, too) for the portion I used to build the coffins. For the hands, I left some of the icing plain white. Spooooky.

The nice thing about the coffin cookies is that you can fill them with even more goodies. How about some chocolate mousse? I attached the lids, but it would be fine if it was un-attached, too.

I use black cocoa quite often, and it's what I used in these cookies. It's sold under quite a few names, depending on the seller, but it's a distinctive and very dark cocoa. If you don't have it, you can use regular cocoa. The cookies won't be quite as dark, but they'll still be good.

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

3 ounces chocolate chips
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened black cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Royal icing (recipe here)

Put the chips in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup and heat in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until they're melted. They don't need to be hot - just softened and melted and smooth. Set aside until it has cooled to room temperature.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk or stir until they're well combined. Set aside.

Here;s the cutter I used,
In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or with an electric mixer, beat the butter until it's smooth. Add the sugar, and beat until it's light. Add the egg and beat until it's incorporated. Add the melted chocolate chips and the vanilla. Beat until they are incorporated.

Add the flour mixture (you might want to add in several additions to keep it from flying around when you start the mixer) until the flour is incorporated. You don't need to beat it any further once it's mixed together.

Place the dough in a zip-top bag and flatten it. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or up to a few days.

When you're ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm up just a little bit. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a few baking sheets with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into several pieces to make it easier to work with. Flour your work space lightlyt - you don't want to add too much flour to the cookies, so be gentle. Roll the dough to between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick - smaller cookies are best if they're rolled thinner, while larger cookies are easier to work with if they're a little thicker.

Cut the cookies with cookie cutters as desired. I used a 3D coffin cookie cutter.

Transfer the cookies to your prepared baking sheets, leaving a little space between them. These don't spread a lot, but they do grow a little.

If you're baking cooking that are different sizes - like the 3D cookies I made that has smaller pieces for the sides and larger pieces for the top and bottom - put the smaller pieces in the center of the baking sheet and the larger pieces along the edges of the sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees until the cookies are firm on top and slightly darker around the edges. Since these are pretty dark to begin with, it's sort of hard to see browning, but if you look, you'll see a slight difference - about 12 minutes.

Let the cookies cool for a minute or two on the baking sheets before moving them to a rack to cool completely.

Decorate the cookies as desired.