Haunted-House Chocolate Cookies
For the Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Decorations
- Unsalted butter, for parchment
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cup sugar
- Royal Icing and Fleurs-de-lis
- 5 black licorice laces, 1 lace cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces, halved lengthwise, remaining laces for windows
- 1 piece black licorice twist (2 inches long)
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- Shelled sunflower seeds for roof tiling plus 1 unshelled for doorway
Make the cookies: Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm, about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove 1 disk of dough from refrigerator, and let stand until room temperature. Lightly dust 2 large sheets of parchment with cocoa powder, and roll 1 disk of dough between sheets to 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a baking sheet, and freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top parchment sheet, and place haunted-house template on dough. Using a craft knife, cut out house. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and templates.
Bake, rotating halfway, until firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer parchment with cookies to wire racks, and let cool.
Decorate the cookies: Place a large sheet of parchment on a baking sheet, and lightly butter parchment. Transfer house and doors to parchment.
Make the windows: Prepare an ice-water bath. Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until syrup comes to a boil. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup turns medium amber. Immediately remove from heat, and place pan in ice-water bath.
Working quickly, carefully spoon some caramel into haunted-house windows, doorway, and door windows, filling each flush with top of cookie. Let stand until cool and hardened.
Make the spires: Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/8-inch round tip with royal icing. Carefully flip house over, and pipe a horizontal line of icing just below top edge of lower roof. Press 1 end of each halved licorice lace into icing to form a row of spires.
Make the chimney: Make a vertical 1/2-inch cut in bottom half of licorice twist, then cut off 1 flap. Insert a 1-inch length of licorice lace into top hole of licorice twist. Pipe a 1/2-inch-long vertical line of royal icing just below edge of top roof, and press flat end flush against house into icing. Let stand until set, about 10 minutes.
Make the roof: Flip house over. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch round tip with melted chocolate. Starting at base of roof, pipe 1 line of chocolate along entire edge, then press sunflower seeds into chocolate in a straight row, pointed edge down. Repeat with chocolate and remaining seeds, "tiling" both roofs, and overlapping rows of seeds slightly.
Make the windows and doors: Cut remaining licorice laces to match dimensions of windows. Halve each lace lengthwise. Pipe thin lines of chocolate along window panes. Press licorice into chocolate. Pipe a thin line of chocolate over doorway, and press 4 shelled sunflower seeds into chocolate, centering the unshelled seed in middle. Let stand until set.
Using a small offset spatula, spread a thick line of royal icing along long, straight edge of haunted-house triangle stand. Gently press triangle against back of haunted-house cookie on left-hand side, supporting cookie between 2 large cans. Repeat with second triangle on right-hand side, and let stand until icing is set, about 30 minutes. (Cookie will keep at room temperature for up to 1 week.)
SourceMartha Stewart Living, October 2008