Yes, those are Day of the Dead cookies. In June. But stay with me here.
I made these cookies for the first time in October of 2005. I thought they sounded really adorable for a Halloween treat, and I love skull-shaped things and Day of the Dead art. They’re just a simple sugar cookie, so how hard could they be?
It turns out I’m not so skilled in making skull-shaped cookies. They were disastrous. They were so disastrous, I decided I couldn’t bear to post them here, so I started another blog called Kitchen F#!% Ups, where I chronicled my kitchen mishap.
Here’s a photo of my first attempt at the cookies. They’re actually pretty funny. And scary, with their misshapen heads that have completely melded together. See that one in the center? He has three eyes and five nose holes.
My first mistake was not reading the instructions in full. I got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks, and Heidi kindly included a bunch of tips on how to make the cookies more successful. I didn’t read any of those tips. I made my cookies too big. I didn’t re-form the skulls after I cut them. I used a butter that I later found doesn’t work very well for cookies (too much moisture).
Another of my many mistakes was not cutting the dough logs in half. Instead, I tried to poke holes for the eyes, nose and mouth straight through a long log of pliable dough that I hadn’t refrigerated long enough. So here’s what my cookies looked like before I even baked them. I just ignored the multiple nose holes instead of actually re-forming the face. What was I thinking?
The cookies of my dreams became a nightmare. They weren’t edible in any form except for picking chunks off of the baking sheet. I had visions of bringing cute little skull cookies in to work, and instead I ended up with a mutated tray of creepy looking corpses.
Every Halloween since, I think about these cookies and wonder if I should give them another try, but I never do. Redemption has finally come to me thanks to a challenge from Frigidaire to submit a culinary-do-over. Deciding what I’d choose to do over was easy! These are without a doubt the one kitchen disaster that has haunted me. You can submit your own do-over wish at Facebook.com/Frigidaire, Frigidaire for a chance to win the ultimate do-over.
I heeded Heidi’s advice this time. I first made sure the cookies were well refrigerated before attempting to work with them, and I kept re-refrigerating them after each step. I made the skulls a lot smaller to begin with, since I knew they would expand in the oven.
Most importantly, I also cut the logs in half to make them more manageable. I took a lot more care in aligning the skewers through the cookie dough as I created the eyes, nose holes, and mouth. Once the chocolate and vanilla layers were cut into individual cookies, I re-formed the faces of any that got mangled. Heidi also suggests slicing with dental floss to minimize deforming the faces – I didn’t have any plain dental floss around, but I think next time I’ll follow her advice.
Here are my cookies just before I baked them. They actually have potential! They still spread a bit in the oven, but they’re recognizable as skulls.
Flavor-wise, these are ordinary sugar cookies. I like Heidi’s idea of adding a bit of cinnamon to the chocolate dough and some raw sugar to the top of the vanilla in order to add some sparkle.
My do-over is complete, and I’m ready for this year’s Day of the Dead celebration now! For the recipe and helpful hints on making these right the first time, check out Heidi’s post on 101 Cookbooks.
- Mayaâ€™s Day of the Dead Cookies (A Year In Chocolate: Four Seasons of Unforgettable Desserts, p. 22)
This post was sponsored by Frigidaire. When you share your own do-over moment at Facebook.com/Frigidaire, Frigidaire will donate $1 to Save the Children’s U.S. programs. Plus, Frigidaire will help cover the costs for one lucky visitor to win the ultimate do-over.