Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Recipe: Halloween spider's web cookies

Halloween spider's web cookies, as made by EJ
The second of my Halloween recipes this year - vanilla cookies featuring the iconic icing spider's web, great for simple but impressive looking treats. These are vanilla sugar cookies, topped with royal icing and decorated with a dark chocolate spider's web.

British chocolatier, Thorntons, very kindly sent me a few French 70% cocoa dark chocolate blocks to experiment with - and this is what I've used to create the spider's webs on top of the cookies. When baking, it's important that you use chocolate of a high quality - so make sure you check the ingredients and avoid bars which contain any un-necessary additives, such as vegetable fats (these can prevent the chocolate from melting properly), in my experience, dark chocolate should always be at least 70% cocoa for the best flavour.

Thorntons dark chocolate block, 70% cocoa
This recipe makes approximately 15 x 8cm round vanilla cookies.

100g butter
100g caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract
2tbs milk
275g plain flour

For the icing:
225g royal icing sugar
12tsp water
70g dark chocolate (70% cocoa minimum)

Special tools:

8cm round cookie cutter
Disposable piping bags
A cocktail stick

To make the cookies:
1. Line a baking tray with greaseproof baking paper.

2. In a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk up the egg a little - add the vanilla extract and milk.

4. Gradually pour the egg mixture into the butter and sugar, mixing well to combine.

5. Sift in the flour and mix into a dough.

6. Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.

7. While the dough is chilling, pre-heat the oven to 190C (fan).

8. Roll the dough out onto a clean floured surface and roll out until approximately 4-5mm thick. Using the 8cm round cookie cutter, cut 15 circles out. Avoid re-rolling the dough too many times.

9. Bake the cookies for approximately 12 -15 minutes, until turning golden at the edges.

10. When the cookies are done, carefully transfer them to a wire rack to cool. The un-iced cookies can then be frozen (well wrapped) for up to a month before you use them.

To ice the cookies:

1) Finely chop the dark chocolate into small pieces and place in a heat-proof bowl.

2) Pour a small amount of water into a saucepan and rest the heatproof bowl on top to create a double boiler (the base should not be touching the water). Heat gently, while stirring to melt the chocolate.

3) When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly for two minutes. Spoon into a disposable piping bag, secure the opening and set to one side until required.

4) Mix the royal icing sugar and water until fully combined and slightly thickened. Spoon into a disposable piping bag, secure the opening and snip the end open.

5) Pipe a circle of royal icing around the circumference of the first cookie, then fill in the centre with royal icing - use a cocktail stick to gently spread and guide the royal icing into place.

6) Snip a fine tip on the end of the chocolate-filled piping bag, working from the centre outwards, pipe a spiral on top of the first iced biscuit.

7) Working quickly, use a clean cocktail stick to drag outwards from the centre of the spiral to the edge of the cookie. Repeat this at intervals around the entire cookie to create the spider's web effect.

8) Repeat steps 5-7 with all of the cookies.

9) Leave to set overnight.

Enjoy :)

Vanilla & chocolate spider's web cookies - a perfect Halloween treat!

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