I love Halloween-themed food. Everyone loses their mind about pumpkin spice, but I’m all about the Monster cereals and Halloween-themed baking. Hand me a box of Trader Joe’s Joe-Joes with jack-o’lantern faces on them, and I’ll murder the box (while at the same time being sad that they’re all gone). Hand me a baking challenge wrapped in clever Halloween packaging, and I’ll try it. Last year, you’ll recall that I baked some delicious Gingerdead Men. That was an adventure! Would these zombie sugar cookies match that experience? Read on to find out!
A note about these kits: You can find them at many big box stores and stores like World Market. I bought mine at Target, but I’m pretty sure they’re all the same in terms of contents.
So let’s look at the contents.
The cookie cutters are about what you’d expect from a $5 kit. They’re not the cheapest things in the world, but Williams-Sonoma caliber they aren’t. Still, though, having cookie cutters doing the “Thriller” dance is deeply satisfying to someone like me.
Included in the kit are cookie dough mix, frosting mix, green powder to color the dough, and red and black icing pens. This is one of those situations where you don’t read the label to find out what’s in this mix. I’m sure it’s not going to turn me into a zombie, but I’m also fairly certain it doesn’t meet my normal standards for food that is actually food. But Halloween isn’t a time to read labels. It’s a time to consume mass quantities of crappy Frankenfoods shaped like monsters and pumpkins, complete with artificial colors and flavors, with reckless abandon. Life is too short not to go on a sugar-fueled binge this time of year.
Normally, I’m not one to follow directions to the letter when it comes to baking, but this is one kit I did. I didn’t want to mess anything up, since I knew I was covering the experience for you, dear readers.
First, I added the cookie mix. Well, actually, first, I decided to photograph these steps with zombie helpers. I thought it might liven up an otherwise pedestrian post about making cookies.
Next, I added my half-stick of room temperature butter and one egg.
Next, it was to the mixer with this stuff. I used my stand mixer, but I’m sure you can use a hand mixer for this. Definitely don’t try to do this by hand. It takes forever.
Once the dough was all solid, I made a well in the middle for what looked like the contents of 100 green Pixy Stix. I assure you, it is strictly a color powder. It does not taste like anything resembling Pixy Stix.
Now, this is where I thought I was so smart. The directions said to knead the color powder into the dough. I said, “Oh, I’ll use my dough hook for kneading!” Nope. It didn’t really work. I wound up doing it by hand, but honestly, it wasn’t hard at all. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to distribute the powder evenly by hand, but it was surprisingly easy.
Once you’ve properly greened up your cookie dough, spread some flour on a flat surface. I used my countertop because it’s the easiest to clean. Plus, it’s marble, so it’s cold and won’t make the dough sticky. Oh, a note about that–if your dough is super sticky after kneading, pop it into the fridge for about 10 minutes. I have really hot hands, so I did this because I knew what a disaster it would be if I tried to roll out warm dough. (It’s super sticky.)
Once I pulled the dough out of the fridge, I was ready to roll it out. The zombies helped a little, but let’s be honest, they did just enough to make a cute photo. I had to do all the heavy lifting.
This is what it looks like rolled out. You’ll notice that at some point I got tired of the rolling pin sticking to the dough mid-roll, so I patted it out the rest of the way by hand. (It also looks like tiny zombies have trampled it.)
This is the part that always scares me. What happens if they all stick? What if I pull a leg off one trying to liberate it from the cookie cutter? They didn’t all stick, but I did detach a few limbs. I also stretched them out trying to transfer them from the cookie cutter to the pan. So the fat, squishy zombies you see here were very slender and tall. Also, can we talk about how the one with its head down reminds me of one of the Peanuts kids dancing? It’s the kid in the Christmas special who turns his head from side to side
I baked the cookies. While I did that, I took some pictures of zombies trying to do household tasks.
I pulled the cookies out of the oven, and thankfully they didn’t all grow together into one amorphous blob. I think had I not chilled the dough before rolling it out, it would have. (Warm dough tends to spread more when baking.)
This guy looks like he’s in a slap fight. He also looks like he has a flipper instead of an arm.
If I had to pick one specimen for what they should look like, this is it.
Looks like the one on the left punched his buddy and got his hand stuck inside.
The guy in the left is a good example of how stretchy they got as I transferred them to the cookie sheet. That arm makes him look like an extra from Yo, Gabba Gabba!
Here they are after I got them off the cookie sheet. You’ll notice that one has lost its head completely, and one broke into two pieces. At least one more has a head that’s barely attached, but you can’t tell here.
As they cooled, I made the frosting. (Or is it icing? I think it’s the same thing.) This is ridiculously easy with a mixer. And it’s fun to see it go from blob to nicely whipped and fluffy.
Next comes the messy part–adding the frosting to the bag.
They were surprisingly easy to decorate. They don’t look exactly like the box, but they’re pretty good.
So at this point you’re probably wondering how they tasted. They were pretty good. The sugar cookies didn’t have a lot of taste. At least not as much as I expected. I’m wondering if the green powder had anything to do with it. The white frosting was really good, and as usual, the red and black icing tasted kinda weird.
I’d definitely make these again, but I think I’ll use my own recipe and maybe leave out the color. At the very least I’d compensate for the taste loss caused by the color. It’s a really fun kit, especially for five bucks. I can see this one being fun with the kiddies or at a party where everyone decorates their own cookie after a few pumpkin beers.
So how about you, gentle readers? Do you dig Halloween cooking? What are you planning to make this spooky season?