Halloween and I have one of those on-again, off-again relationships.
Don’t worry Halloween. It isn’t me. It’s you.
By the time I had small kids of my own, Halloween took a turn toward the (off-again) dark side. Between the fancy printed invitations to catered kidlet parties and the elaborate costuming (no more bed sheet ghosts) and the requisite gourmet treats, it ranked right up there with a root canal.
Martha Stewart was only just beginning to make un-crafty mothers look inadequate and only one mom in our neighborhood grew her own cotton – spinning and dying it so she could sew it into a vintage Dorothy costume for her over-achieving 2nd grader while also baking French pastries for catered events and teaching both kindergarteners and senior citizens how to knit with their toes.
The rest of us, the loser-moms, went to the Ben Franklin and for less than $5 out-fitted our kids in plastic and cardboard as witches, ghouls, and princesses. None of the kids seemed to mind as long as the grocery store sacks were filled with candy by evening’s end.
Working full-time, I barely had time to get to Ben Franklin, let alone go through the kid’s bags of candy at the end of the evening. But we made the time because the nagging suspicion that my child would be the one to find the razor blade in an apple (like they would eat apples) kept me from sleeping anyway. Or was it the extra chocolate Halloween candy we ate all evening?
Unfortunately during the same era, miniatures made their debut and nothing pisses off a kid more than finding tiny little replicas of what used to be real candy bars in their treasured bags. It took many years before they were over that. And lots of adult therapy too because God knows, that would be the thing to blame on a parent. “My mother always took me to blah blah blah street where everyone gave out tiny candy bars when my friend’s mother took her to big house street where they gave out real candy bars….”
But as all things go, there is a pendulum and I’ve learned to like Halloween once again. I love watching parades of kids in costumes and I love the creativity of homemade treats that seem to be popular again. And I love that Martha Stewart is a grandmother and lives on another coast.
Meantime, in the spirit of a gluten-free Halloween, I baked these cookies and had some great help by way of this wonderful book by Joanne Chang called Flour. If you do not have one, it is your lucky day. Leave a comment about Halloween and you could win a copy. Tell us why you love/hate Halloween and/or your favorite Halloween candy. And Cap’n Awesome will once again pick a winner or two from the group – it’s easy. Just amuse him and believe me -it is not difficult.
Flour is a fantastic book and bakery (though not gluten-free). All the recipes are done not only in volume measure but in weights which means they are absolutely easy to convert to gluten-free. I added this version of Royal Icing here from Joy of Baking – which I tinted orange. The ghosts are plain vanilla icing and to make the chocolate icing, I mix in a little cocoa. And feel free to mess around with whatever cut-outs you like. The recipe for the dough is easy to put together and can wait around (wrapped in plastic) in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll – so to speak.
|Spooky Halloween Cookies, Gluten Free||
- 228 grams unsalted butter (1 cup) at room temperature
- 300 grams (1.5 cups) superfine sugar
- 2 large eggs plus 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
- 1 teaspoon almond flavoring
- 445 grams GF Flour (200g superfine brown rice flour, 175g superfine white rice flour, 50g arrowroot starch, 20g coconut flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 440 grams (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted (!)
- 2-3 tablespoons egg white powder (I use Deb-El Just Whites)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon flavoring
- 1 teaspoon almond flavoring
- 120 grams warm water (about ½ cup-ish)
- gel food coloring and/or 1 tablespoon (about) unsweetened cocoa
- candy assortment
- dried fruits
- When ready to bake (the dough is refrigerated overnight at minimum) preheat oven to 325 and line several baking sheets with parchment (I used 4)
- In a stand mixer, beat butter with sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and flavorings until fully incorporated.
- Weigh flours in a small bowl. Add in the baking powder and salt and whisk everything to mix well. Slowly add the flour to the butter/egg mixture on low until fully incorporated. Remove and using a silicone spatula, make sure all the rogue bits on the bottom are fully mixed into the dough. Scraped dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- Let the dough warm up slightly before rolling. It is best to roll directly on the parchment you will use for baking and cover with plastic wrap while rolling. Cut out shapes about an inch apart and remove excess dough. Re-roll scraps and continue the process.
- Bake about 10 minutes and rotate. Bake about 8-10 minutes more (depends on how thin they were rolled) until cookies look slightly golden but not too brown. Cool on a rack thoroughly before icing them.
- Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, add the powdered whites and mix on low just until mixed. Add in the flavorings and a ¼ cup of water slowly while the mixer is turning on low. Keep adding water until it looks like icing – less is better at first because you can always add more. Whip on high for a few minutes and add water if it seems too stiff. Remove the amount of icing you want if you have a need for the plain color. Then begin adding in the color (or cocoa) and whip. Add more until you are happy with the color/flavor. If you are using more than one color – remove some of the stuff and mix it in another bowl.
- Keep the icing covered with plastic wrap or it will begin to harden.
- Ice the cookies using an offset spatula and let them dry thoroughly before adding more icing. If you are applying decorations like eyeballs or sprinkles, now is the time to add that stuff so it all dries together.