Every year I see lots of Halloween cupcakes and cakes that are rather boring in their decorations. They may have faces of ghosts or vampires painted on top with colored icing, but that really doesn’t do much to set them apart from non-holiday cupcakes. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and I think it’s fun to go over-the-top where ever possible and really take decorations as far as they can go. I did this last Halloween by creating Vampire Cupcakes – cupcakes filled with a blood-red cherry pie filling that “bled” when you bit into them. This year, I wanted to start a little collection of vampire Halloween goodies and opted to try my hand at making vampire cookies.
Like the cupcakes, I wanted the cookies to be a pale white color and filled with something bright red. I opted for a very simple butter cookie dough that bakes up to be a pale cream color (thanks to the use of real butter, even though shortening would have turned out a whiter cookie) and filled each of the cookies up with bright red raspberry jam. I finished them off with a little vampire bite on top. The cookie dough needs to be made at least an hour in advance of baking, because it needs to be chilled and rolled out. These are not sandwich cookies, but are made by sandwiching filling between two rounds of uncooked dough and pressing the edges together to seal the filling inside.
I made the bite marks by poking two holes in the dough with a toothpick before baking. Even though the cookies spread slightly in the oven, the holes stay in place. I used a toothpick dipped in jam to draw the blood trickle from one of the holes after the cookies cooled. Any red jam or preserves will work for these. Don’t choose one with big chunks of fruit in it, as it will be a bit difficult to work with.
The cookies have a light vanilla and butter flavor to them, and are the perfect color to really set off the red of the filling. The have a slightly crisp edge and a soft, chewy center. When you take a bite and expose the jam, they really do look like they’re bleeding! They are baked at a slightly cooler temperature than some cookies, so they don’t really brown during baking. They are at their best the day they are made, as the jam tends to make the cookies a bit softer after being stored for a day or two.
These cookies are also good for those who are fans of the vampire genre in general, Halloween or not, so you might consider baking a batch for someone who is a fan of the Twilight book series, HBO’s True Blood or even Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
3/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
approx 1/2 cup red jam (raspberry/strawberry)
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and extracts.
Add flour and salt to the bowl and mix them into the butter-sugar mixture at low speed until dough is just combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325F.
Divide dough in half and keep the portion you are not using in the refrigerator.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out 2-inch rounds.
Place rounds on a baking sheet, put a teaspoon of jam on each of them and cover with another round of dough. Press edges down lightly, pinching the edges onto the cookie sheet. Use a toothpick and poke two small holes (like a vampire bite) in the top of each cookie.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are set.
Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Dip a toothpick in some extra red jam and re-insert in the “bite” holes you made before baking to emphasize them, if not already red. Draw a blood trick down from one of the bites with the jam, if desired.
Cookies are best the day they are made.
Makes 2 dozen.