It’s half term, the weather’s damp and dreary and you have two over-excitable children in the house. What do you do? You bake!
We got a set of cool Halloween themed cutters recently from TK Maxx and I was looking for an excuse to try them out. But what kind of cookie to make? Shortbread/vanilla seemed too light for the season. Chocolate is something I tend to associate more with Easter and Christmas. We wanted a cookie that was spice-laden, dark and with a bit of oomph.
Luckily Louisa’s Buttery Treacle Spice Biscuits from The Really Good Life were perfect! I made a couple of small tweaks to make them darker and suitable for rolling and cutting into shapes, but it’s definitely worth checking Louisa’s page to get the proper instructions as hers are way more detailed than mine:
Dark Dark Spice Halloween Cookies (makes 20+)
200g self raising flour
60g dark brown sugar
2 tbsp treacle (if you can’t get treacle then molasses might work)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
plain flour for dusting & rolling
1) Put everything except the flour into a bowl and stir together until it’s all mixed up together into an unidentifiable mush.
2) Stir in the self raising flour until it starts to come together into a damp but not sticky dough. (Make sure you use a strong wooden spoon or clean hands as it gets very stiff!)
3) Form into 2 balls/discs, wrap them in clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill. This is quite a fragile dough so chilling makes it easier to roll out. It doesn’t behave well if it’s overhandled so keep one ball in the fridge when you’re cutting out the shapes from the other ball). Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
4) While the dough is chilling, preheat your oven to 200c/ Gas Mark 5 and grease/line a couple of baking sheets.
5) Liberally dust your work surface and rolling pin with flour, then roll out the dough. Depending on how thick you like your biscuits, roll out to about the thickness of a pound coin. (Thinner = crisper, shorter cooking time and more biscuits. Thicker = chewier, longer cooking time, less fragile.) Cut out using shape cutters and lay out on baking sheets. They don’t really spread so you can put them fairly close together.
6) Bake in the centre of the oven. Depending on the quirks of your oven and the thickness of your biscuits, this could take anything from 5 – 20 minutes. 7-10 minutes is the most likely, but check early unless you like a semi charred/over caramelised flavour (that’s why the bats on the right of the pic above are so dark! You want them to be more the colour of the owl and pumpkins).
7) Leave on baking tray for a minute or two so they firm up a bit then transfer to a cooling rack.
We made up a simple half batch of glace icing according to the instructions on the side of the packet of icing sugar, then divided it into 3 and added green food colouring to one and orange to another, leaving one white icing.
75g icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1-2 drops food colouring in each colour you want to use
1) Sieve the icing sugar (sounds crazy but this step is vital!)
2) Stir in the water. It looks like it will never be enough, but keep going and you’ll be surprised how far that tablespoon goes. If you are using liquid food colouring, add it at this stage. If it still looks too thick (lift your spoon out of the icing – does it run off in a slow trail or drip in individual drops? You want a slow trail) then add a bit more water, but very slowly – a scant tsp or so at a time.
3) If you have gel food colouring then add it after you have your icing at the desired quantity.
4) Spoon onto the biscuits and add decorations of choice!
We decided to decorate the overdone biscuits too, so it’s a bit of a lucky dip as to whether you get a ‘treat’ cookie or a ‘trick’ burnt one!