I'm just going to go ahead and say it, these are really boring looking cookies. The good news is they taste good and they have a lot of potential. And unlike my maggot molds, the cookie cutters are available for purchase on amazon and elsewhere. These cookie cutters are a two step process. First you press the design into the dough with one side and then you flip it over and cut the dough.
I was inspired by these sugar skull brownies from HungryHappenings.com. I haven't tried anything close to their recipe here, I just liked the darker batter and thought gingerbread might work.
Since the only gingerbread recipe I like wouldn't work for this type of cookie, I decided to try this recipe from King Arthur Flour. Like the maggots, you don't want any leavening agents to puff out your cookies.
I made half the recipe, using the gingerbread variation...sort of. I substituted the molasses with brown sugar since it was only a teaspoon and left out the ginger and nutmeg. Next time I think I'll also forgo the allspice and cloves and just use one tablespoon of cinnamon.
The recipe says to bake for 10-12 minutes. I thought I was being safe taking them out after 10, but they were a little browner than I like. I don't like my cookies to brown. I like them right at the point where they are just thinking about browning, but haven't actually committed themselves to the act. Despite their dark edges, they were not burnt nor were they terribly hard and had a nice shortbread texture.
The guy in the middle was the result of not quite having enough dough for a full skull, but it made me realize that I'm not limited to doing skulls. Imagine these skull imprints with a pumpkin shaped cutter for Thanksgiving or an egg shape for Easter?
Decorating is not my strong suite, but I thought if I could flood the depressed areas with icing, I might be alright. Silly me. First off I don't like royal icing, which is what proper people use for flooding. Secondly, even if I had used royal icing, let's be real, I would've made a disaster of it anyway.
I made of small batch of faux royal icing, no meringue powder or egg whites. It tasted nastier than royal icing. So I decided to use my Go-To glaze that I drizzle on cinnamon rolls or zombie guts.
For half a batch of cookies, I used a half a batch of glaze:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of milk
Mix the powdered sugar into the butter a tablespoon at a time. You should end up with a thick smooth paste that's firm enough to roll into a ball. Add more sugar if needed, no more than a tablespoon at time. Add the vanilla, mix until smooth. Then gradually add the milk and stir until you have a smooth runny mess. If you need it to be runnier add more milk, but no more than a 1/2 teaspoon at a time.
So at this point I had my glaze. It was a perfect consistency for flowing into the spaces, but way to runny for me to pipe from a bag. I did a fair job drizzling it from the tip of a grapefruit spoon and dotting it in with a toothpick for the really small details. I made it through two cookies in this manner before I decided "Fck this.", it was taking way too long. So instead, one by one, I smeared a spoonful of glaze on top of the cookie and then leveled off the excess with a spatula. Not perfect, but I had glaze in the crevices and I finished the rest of the cookies in less time than it took to do the first two.
Next time I will have an array of colorful candy sprinkles on hand to jazz them up. But although they are terribly bland looking, they are really quite tasty.