Recipe: Trick 'r Treat Chocolate Cut Out Cookies

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I saw Trick 'r Treat for the first time several years ago, when the movie was struggling to find a release in theaters. The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles held a screening as a double feature with Creepshow (what a fun double bill!) with Director Michael Dougherty in attendance for a q&a.

Since then, I've watched Trick 'r Treat every Halloween to get myself in the holiday mood.  The movie itself is a series of short stories, following different characters around the same small town on Halloween night.  A murderous school principal, some teenagers pranking the resident "weird girl", and a group of young women seemingly looking for dates to a party all feature in a gory, funny, scary anthology about the importance of Halloween traditions.  

Little Sam is both the hero and villain of the movie, walking around in his orange scarecrow-like pajama costume with all the other trick or treaters, but if you blow out your jack o' lantern too early or ignore the call of candy-hungry kids at your door, the consequences may be dire.  His Pumpkin-shaped lollipop turns into a deadly weapon with a single bite, and you really don't want to know what's under that burlap mask.

One of the best things about the Sam character for me is that, if you want to make a cookie version, the classic gingerbread man shape works really well.  I decided to make cookie versions of Sam and his lollipop knife.  I'm usually not one for overly-complicated cookie decorating, so I stuck to just 2 colors and chocolate details.

Dougherty has another holiday-themed horror movie coming out this year, only this time he's set his sights on Christmas.  I can only hope that Krampus captures the same sense of fun audiences got with Trick 'r Treat.

Trick 'r Treat Cookies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Put the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and eat in 10 second increments.  Stir each time until chocolate is just melted.

Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, until fluffy.  Add egg, vanilla, and melted chocolate, mix to incorporate.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough comes together.  

Transfer dough to a gallon plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes (can be refrigerated for up to 2 days).

Preheat oven to 350°F.  When the dough is ready, roll to 1/4" thickness (use flour to keep dough from sticking to your surface), cut into desired shapes and bake for 9-12 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown.

For these Trick 'r Treat cookies, I used gingerbread men shapes and circles with a flower cut out to make the bite mark for the lollipops.  Bake the lollipop shapes on top of the lollipop sticks so the cookie bakes onto the stick.

Mint Royal Icing

1/4 cup meringue powder
1/2 cup water
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Beat meringue powder and water with a whisk attachment on high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add powdered sugar slowly and continue beating until the consistency resembles that of toothpaste.  Mix in peppermint extract to incorporate.

To decorate:
Divide the royal icing into 2 bowls: 1/4 in one bowl, 3/4 in the other.  In the smaller bowl, add brown food coloring to make a light brown color.  In the big bowl, add orange food coloring to make a bright orange color.

Transfer some each of these colors into its own piping bag or condiment container.  These are the piping icings.

Add water to the remaining icing, 1 teaspoon at a time, mixing until icing is still thick, but when you pull your spoon out and the icing falls back on itself, the line fades into the rest of the icing.  Put each of these into its own piping bag or condiment container.  These are the flood icings.

Outline where you want the color to go with your piping icing, then color in with your flood icing, just like a coloring book.  The brown will go on the head and hands of the Sam cookies.  The orange will be the pajamas and whole lollipop cookies.  Once those are completely colored and dry, add details like the stitching on Sam's mask with the piping icing.

Melt 5 oz. of chocolate and transfer to a piping bag for the lollipop details and Sam's eyes.  

And remember: always check your candy.