Sunday, November 02, 2008

Candy-Corn Sugar Cookies

Halloween got away from me this year. When my daughter was growing up, Halloween was big in our house. It actually started in September when we made the annual pilgrimmage to the fabric store to choose a pattern and material for her costume. We went all out and spent hundreds of dollars. Then I spent my evenings and weekends cutting, pinning, sewing, hemming. But no matter how hard I worked, I always took it right down to the last moment. One memorable year, I was literally fastening the rank insignia on her Star Fleet Officer costume as she was heading out the door for school!

Since she moved out, Halloween has receded in importance in my life. When I saw these cookies on the Martha Stewart site, I thought "They look cute! I should make them for Halloween!" but since it was still early October, I pushed it to the back of my mind. All month I thought about making them, but I always had other things to do. All of a sudden, it was Halloween and I still hadn't made them. I grabbed a bag of candy corn at the grocery store today while they still had them. And I finally made the cookies.

They were very simple to make. A bowl and a wooden spoon. My favorite kind of recipe. And by making the chocolate variation second, I was able to use the same bowl and wooden spoon. Score! Those of us who still live in the Dark Ages without a dishwasher appreciate recipes that require few dishes to be washed.

I did have a few issues with this recipe. The batter is supposed to be beaten with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. That worked really well until I added the flour. It nust wouldn't come together, stubbornly maintaining the consistency of sand. I was going to add a little water like I would with a stubborn pie crust when the thought of pie crust put my pastry cutter in mind. That did the trick.

My other issue was with the number of cookies. I had read complaints on the site that although the recipe says that it makes 36 cookies, almost no one got that yield. I didn't either. I was only able to make 18 cookies from the batter. As you can see from the picture, if I had made the cookies any smaller, the candy corn would have been too big!

But they did come out cute, didn't they? And delicious! Even the chocolate ones which was surprising because I don't normally like chocolate recipes that use cocoa instead of baking chocolate. I've always used Hershey's cocoa when baking. It's a leftover from my childhood when my mother would make us cocoa from the familiar brown tin. But when I went to buy some at the grocery store, they didn't have any small tins, only large ones. So I bought a small tin of Nestle cocoa instead. I think that made the difference. I may have to revisit some recipes that use cocoa that have disappointed me in the past to test my theory.

As an aside, it should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog regularly and knows how much I hate to waste ingredients that I found a use for those two egg whites. I'll be posting another Martha Stewart recipe in a few days that calls for two egg whites.

Verdict: Yum! This one's a keeper!

Candy-Corn Sugar Cookies
(source: Martha Stewart)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
About 36 candy corns

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter and sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a wooden spoon until combined. Beat in egg yolk, vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Add flour, and mix until a dough forms.

Scoop out level teaspoons of dough, and roll into balls (chill dough briefly if it becomes too soft to handle). Place balls on baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are firm and cookies are dry to the touch (do not let cookies color), 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven; gently press a candy corn into center of each cookie (surface of cookies may crack slightly). Cool on sheets 1 minute; transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Makes about 36.

Chocolate Variation: Reduce the amount of flour given in the recipe to 1/2 cup. Add 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder along with the flour and proceed.

Recycle: vanilla bottle

Compost: eggshells

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