Spooky Skeleton Shortbread

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I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but I made skeleton gingerbread men. As in, I made shortbread, cut it with my gingerbread man cookie cutter, & then piped a totally anatomically correct skeleton on top of it. Yes, the gingerbread man cookie cutter was bought specifically for this purpose. Yes, I do have lots of college work that I should have been doing instead. I just couldn’t pass up my first ever Halloween on the blog. Besides, now I have Spooky Skeleton Shortbread to snack on while I stress out. Everyone came out a winner. 

I’ve been looking at every other food blogger in the whole world post up their Halloween dishes for weeks now, it was beginning to get slightly depressing. I mean, how do people come up with such creations? But then I made these skeletons, & I could not be happier. See, I have some confessions to make, & I’m going to say them quickly & only once. Ready? This was my first time ever making a biscuit dough & then using cookie cutters to make shapes. That’s not all… This was also my first time making royal icing. I know, what kind of food blogger am I? A food blogger that has now joined the ranks of the the real food bloggers (finally).

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If I’m being honest, I’m not really a big Halloween kind of girl. Sure, when I was a kid I liked going trick or treating, but that was purely for the bag of sweets that would accumulate at the end of the night, obviously. I mean, I like dressing up as much as the next person (I make an awesome Bellatrix Lestrange), but I’m just not into Halloween. It just doesn’t do it for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a good skeleton shortbread or two, or seven. If you can’t enjoy some skeleton shortbread on Halloween then when can you enjoy them?

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I’m more than pleased with how the skeletons came out, but they were slightly stressful for my inexperienced self. I was terrified when I was making the shortbread, the recipe was so vague. Do you know how difficult it is to catch shortbread in that brief second right before it starts to brown, but after it’s baked through? Yeah, that was more stressful than I expected. Then there was the royal icing. Made the icing, was happy with the consistency, but then it became blatantly obvious that I’d never piped anything other than buttercream before. How do you stop the icing from just pouring out of the bag? How thick should the piped lines be? Does it spread as it settles?

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Friends, I can tell you now that yes, it does spread ever so slightly as it settles. My first two skeletons ended up with only one eye on their face because of the spreading. But then things got serious. I took control of the situation, I had a paper towel at the ready, I had thin steady lines coming out of the bag, & I thought realistically about how many ribs one can fit onto a little gingerbread man, which is more problematic than you would think. But I have to tell you, every second of it was so worth it. I mean, just look at their cute little faces! I mean, their spooky scary skeletal faces. 

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In terms of taste, these Spooky Skeleton Shortbread cookies taste just as you would expect – shortbread (which has a delicious almondy hint in every bite) that was iced with a simple royal icing. This is one of the few things on the blog, possibly the only thing on the blog, that I did for looks more than taste.

Happy Halloween!

Makes enough for 20 skeletons, & then some (Shortbread adapted from Annie Eats, icing from Sweetopia)

Ingredients 

For the shortbread 

  • 1 cup of butter
  • 1 cup of icing sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of almond essence
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon of salt 
  • 2 ½ cups of flour, sifted 
  • (2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, if you wan half of your dough to be dark brown rather than shortbread colour)

For the icing

  • 227g of icing sugar, sifted
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ tablespoon of Cream of Tartar 

Method 

  1. First, make the cookies. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add in the icing sugar & thoroughly combine.
  2. Add the egg, almond essence, vanilla extract, salt, & flour into the mix & combine until blended in. 
  3. (Add the cocoa powder to half of the batter & blend thoroughly.)
  4. Wrap the dough in cling film & chill for at least one hour. 
  5. Preheat the oven to 170°C & line a couple of baking trays with parchment paper. On a well floured surface, roll the dough out until it is ¼ of an inch thick. Using a gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut out as many gingerbread men as possible. Place on the baking trays & bake in the preheated oven for 7-9 minutes, until very VERY slightly beginning to brown, but without actually going brown (they’ll also still be soft). 
  6. Remove from the oven & leave until cool. 
  7. Then, make the icing. With an electric mixer, blend the Cream of Tartar & the egg whites until no lumps remain. 
  8. Add the icing sugar & mix for a few minutes, until thoroughly combined & no lumps remain. 
  9. When the cookies are completely cooled, prepare for icing. Place a portion of the icing* into a piping bag fitted with your smallest nozzle & pipe on a skeleton! As you can see, my skeletons are hardly exact, so just pipe on a structure that slightly resembles the human body. 
  10. Place the freshly iced skeletons into the fridge until the icing has hardened & gone matte. 

*This recipe makes way more icing than you need, just store the remainder in the fridge for up to a week. 



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