Friday, October 31, 2014

Spider Cookies

by Sheila Connolly

O lucky me! I get to post on Halloween, and I am so ready!

First, I have a gift for you readers who love my County Cork mysteries and are having a hard time waiting for An Early Wake, which won’t be published until February 2015. So I’ve written a short story set in Ireland, Under the Hill, which fits nicely with the Halloween theme (you’ll see why) and it’s free for all e-platforms. You can find it here:

Second, if you like cozies (pun intended), have I got a cozy for you: this skull tea cozy. You could have some really interesting tea parties with this (if anyone would drink the tea under it!). Leave a comment here before midnight (when the dead walk this night!) and I’ll draw one name.

And now, on to the recipe! I’ve talked before my love affair with Stock, the cookware shop in Dublin. The first time I saw it was two years ago in November, and they were sold out of most of their Halloween cookies cutters. (Note: they have terrific cookie cutters—intricate and sturdy and really interesting. Last time I was there I bought a tractor and a rosebud.) I made sure to put in an order well before last Halloween, so now I have a great jack-o’lantern, and a ghoulie, and a skull and crossbones, and…a spider. I had to have the spider.

I’ve used this cookie recipe before on MLK, a couple of years ago, but since these cookie-cutters are very detailed I had to modify the recipe to make the dough a bit less fragile, and easier to handle. That meant cutting down on the butter and substituting solid shortening, plus adding a bit more flour to make the dough stiffer. They still came out nice and chewy.

As for the frosting…I ordered the black food coloring (there are some sources online that say if you combine all colors of food coloring you get something black-ish, but I think that sounds like a muddy mess), but it’s not expensive. You might be able to find it at a local craft supply store.

(the black widow is the only poisonous spider common in my state)

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup solid shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 cup unsulfured molasses

6 cups all-purpose flour (more if needed)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp ground ginger
Spices (yes, lots!)
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper (really!)
1-1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs and molasses.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.  Stir into the butter-shortening-sugar mixture.

Divide the dough into thirds and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least an hour (you can do this well ahead of time if you like), or even overnight.

Roll the dough 1/8-inch thick between two pieces of wax paper.

Cut the dough into shapes with your cookie cookie cutters.  Place the cookies on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until crisp but not too dark.  Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

[Note: spiders have skinny legs, so it’s a little tricky to transfer them. If you don’t have a spider cutter, this would work well with pumpkin-shaped cutters.)

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies, depending on their size.


I’ll admit I was stymied by this. I ordered the food coloring, no problem. But most of the recipes I found called for a base of Royal Icing, which in turn required Meringue Mix. I have never heard of Meringue Mix. It seems to consist of dried egg whites with a little sugar added, and it’s what makes bakery frosting firm and crisp rather than gooey. You can order it when you order that black food coloring.

In a pinch you can substitute the old reliable recipe of confectioners sugar plus a bit of milk, add powdered chocolate, then add the black color. Or you can buy some canned chocolate frosting and add the color (although this version won't harden). One tip: you might want to wear latex gloves when playing with the black frosting, or your hands may end up with some interesting blotches. Wicked stuff!

And don't turn your back on them for a minute!


  1. Cookies sound yummy! And I LOVE the tea cozy.

  2. I didn't realize that they sold spider cookie cutters!! What a cute idea.

    1. Darlene, that store has the most amazing selection I've ever seen (yes, they do mail order, if you don't mind paying for shipping from Ireland), and I'm afraid I'll set off metal detectors coming home.

  3. Love these, Sheila. And I just ordered the short story!

  4. I forgot to mention that these cookies store well, without drying out, and the spicy flavor keeps getting stronger. And this recipe makes a lot of cookies--I'm still using up some of the dough.

  5. They sound and look yummy. Thanks.

  6. The cookies sound lovely , I will be trying the recipe this weekend :)
    LOVE the tea cozy, would but wonderful to use with my friends :)
    LOVE your books and can't wait to read the new one

  7. Under the Hill is on my tablet, patiently waiting for me to finish the 2 books I am currently reading.
    Marvelous cookie cutters.
    Good job on the icing!

  8. I love the cookie cutters! I have a pretty good size collection so I will be definitely trying out your recipe! The tea cozy is fantastic! Thanks for the book info I just downloaded it! Have a safe and happy Halloween!

  9. Thanks for the short story - loved it! And those cookie cutters, they are great. Creepy and great. Happy Halloween!

  10. The cookies sound yummy and the spider ones are so cute! Love the tea cozy, it's awesome.

  11. Super post, Sheila! I love everything about it. I won't turn my back on the spiders!

    Happy Halloween.


  12. I love the spider cookies! And thank's so much for the free short story. It's bumped up to next after what I'm currently reading.

  13. What a wonderful grand finale to our Halloween Week! That skull tea cozy--and the skull and crossbones cookie cutter--are particularly awesome, as are those deliciously creepy edible black widows, but your free story is the best treat of all. Thank you and...

    Happy Halloween, Sheila!

    ~ Cleo

  14. Sheila, they look yummy & very scary.
    I didn't see what you used for the eyes (too scared to keep my eyes open for scared.)

  15. These look spooky and delicious! And I've got the new short story loaded on my e-reader. Thanks, Sheila!

  16. What fabulous cookie cutters, Sheila! I know what you mean about the dough for cookies with fine parts. It can be difficult to keep them intact. Your spiders are wonderful! Just the right thing for tonight . . .

  17. Bwahaha! Hope you're having a happy Howloween!

  18. What great cookie cutters! And the tea cozy is fantastic...thanks for the opportunity to win.
    dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

  19. Thank you for the e-book! I'm partial to that ghoul cookie cutter. How cute!

    Happy Halloween!

  20. Happy Halloween! The cookies look great! And the tea cozy is awesome too!

  21. You always have the best recipes!! I gain weight just reading the blog--so much yummy food. That skull and crossbones cookie cutter is amazing. Must have!! Halloween is our family's Christmas and anything with skeletons or skulls is nirvana to us! Entering to win the tea cozy to make our tea kettle look sexy!!

  22. Two of my favorite things Halloween and tea with sn adorable cozy. Love it.

  23. Love tea, Love tea cozies. Just wonderful for the fall and winter. So special. Thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  24. Oh, Sheila, a skull cozy? No bones about it, you win, bones down! LOL

    Fun post.

    Daryl/ Avery

  25. What a fabulous tea cozy. Delightful and unique. The cookies are great for the little ones. Best ever. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  26. Most Definitely the cookies I'd love :-) Thanks for the chance to win !!

  27. Thanks for the free read and the chance to win a really cool tea cozy!

    1. Youi've won the cozy! Let me know where I can send it. (Should I send some hemlock along with it?)

  28. Molasses, cinnamon, cloves!!!! Awesome cookies to go along with a delightful tea cozy. Happy Halloween!!!!! llblalock @ prodigy dot net

  29. The cookies look awesome. Thank you for the free book

  30. Thanks for the yummy recipe and free story!

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

  31. Thank you for the book. Love the tea cozy, and now I want a spider cookie. LOL