Halloween is a great time to get creative with experimental baking. Take these cookies, for example: The dough is arranged in long tubes and shaped to look like a brain. You will need an entire bottle of food coloring to make the deep red blood glaze. If you don't like nuts or are allergic, simply omit them from the recipe. Normally I would never recommend grossing out your guests, but that is what Halloween is all about! To see how to make these mini brains,
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup very finely chopped walnuts, or pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 5 drops red food coloring
About 9 drops blue food coloring
2 cups confectioners' sugar
35 to 40 drops red food coloring
2 to 4 tablespoons milk, as needed for thinning glaze
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.
- Into a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- Alternating with the eggs, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating well after the addition of each. Fold in the nuts, vanilla, and red and blue food coloring, being careful not to overmix the dough. The food coloring will make the dough a grayish color, resembling the color of brains.
- Place the dough in batches in a potato ricer and push the dough out onto the prepared baking sheets in long tubes of dough. With your fingers, loosely pat and arrange the dough strands into clumps resembling brains, pushing to form 2 hemispheres and shaping into a walnut-like shape. Bake until golden brown on the bottom, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- To make the "blood glaze," in a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar with the food coloring to make a thick glaze, whisking together. Add milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the glaze is a good consistency for drizzling.
- Drizzle the "blood" onto the cookies and serve either warm or at room temperature.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.