These crunchy Halloween cookies have run their way back and forth across the Web, but we've come up with twists and style updates that are sure to please. Hit the jump and visit the gallery for inspiration.
For these cookies, the Creepy Witch's Fingers recipe from Canadian Living was used, although any shortbread recipe will work (like Not Quite Nigella's shortbread twist). The key is not to confine yourself strictly to the recipe. Averse to almonds or have friends with allergies? Simply sub in any tasty abstract -- we used caramel.
Like many cookie doughs, this one needs to be refrigerated. That makes it easy to do the fingers in batches, and better yet, do some experimenting to see what shapes, sizes and techniques make the most convincing appendages.
Naturally, almonds are the preferred fingernail substitute for these Halloween treats -- they look just like the real thing! But when they're not available, or in a pinch, try M&Ms. When using almonds, an entire blanched piece will look fine, but carefully using an extra-sharp knife and slicing it in half will make for more realistic nails.
Many cooks like to lift the nuts and add a little red gel icing underneath for bloody fingernails, but that's just one possibility. Use some frosting, melted chocolate or dye for a different twist. With dye, it's easy to use a brush to apply the color, but gelled dye allows for a quicker and slightly messier option when brushes aren't available. Dip a toothpick in the dye, drag it on the almond and then rub it around with your fingertip. A very little will go a very long way, and what remains on your finger will color a myriad of realistic faux nails.
Forming the Fingers
Once the dough is chilled and quite firm, cut off a batch to work with and return the rest to the fridge. Grab a ball, roll it between your hands until it's finger-sized, and then shape into a realistic finger. To create big knuckles, pinch some of the dough between your fingers, then smooth it to a natural roundness. Take the parts between the knuckles and gently roll them between your fingers. Baking will flatten the fingers a bit, but efforts towards 360-degree realism will help -- especially if these will be displayed vertically. When the finger is shaped, press a nail into the tip. And don't forget the knuckle wrinkles -- they just require a few slices with a knife.
Displaying the Cookies
There are lots of easy and creative ways to display these witchy fingers. Our favorite: Stick them in a bowl of "blood" -- otherwise known as red jam. It's the simplest way to elicit eeriness without buying special materials. Aside from piling these babies on a tray, you can wedge them into the windows of a toy house (a la "Wizard of Oz"), bunch 4 fingers together coming out of some sweet goo or coffee-ground dirt (like something trying to crawl its way to freedom) or let them peek out from under a witch's hat.
Find more Halloween treats at KitchenDaily.com