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MAYA'S DAY OF THE DEAD COOKIES
from "Chocolate Holidays" by Alice Medrich

Here's a whimsical and witty twist on the old black-and-white cookie. My friend and assistant, Maya Klein, invented this clever, slice-and-bake method to conjure up a host of creepy-looking skulls with hollow eye sockets and evil grins. Lots of fun in honor of this ancient Mexican ritual, which occurs every year around All Soul's Day.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies
 Chocolate Holidays
INGREDIENTS (CLICK TO BUY)

Vanilla Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate Dough
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process or natural
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar, lump free
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Equipment
Baking sheets lined with parchment paper

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PREPARATION

To make the vanilla dough, mix the flour, baking powder and salt together thoroughly with a whisk or a fork. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. On low speed, beat in the flour until just incorporated. Form the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Set aside.
To make the chocolate dough, in a medium bowl, mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together thoroughly with a whisk or fork. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar with the back of a spoon or an electric mixer until smooth and creamy but not fluffy (less than 1 1/2 minutes with an electric mixer). Beat in the egg and vanilla. On low speed, beat in the flour until just incorporated. Form the dough into a log the same length as the vanilla log. If the dough is too soft and sticky to handle, place it in the freezer to firm up.
To shape the skulls, reshape each log of dough so that it is skull-shaped rather than round: Make one side of the skull narrow for the chin and jaw and leave the other side wide for the cranium. Wrap and refrigerate the chocolate dough. Form features in the vanilla dough, using the handle of a wooden spoon to poke holes for eyes through the entire length of the log. Form the nose with a skewer, poking two holes for nostrils. Form the mouth by inserting a narrow table knife and wiggling it back and forth gently to lengthen and widen the opening. Don't try for perfection: irregular holes make the best and weirdest skulls. Wrap and refrigerate the vanilla dough. Chill both doughs at least two hours, preferably overnight.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the chocolate dough into 1/8-inch slices and place them at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the lined baking sheets. Cut the vanilla dough into 1/8-inch slices and place 1 slice on top of each chocolate slice. Bake until pale golden at the edges, 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking. Slide parchment liners directly from the baking sheets to the rack with a metal pancake turner, waiting 1 to 2 minutes if necessary to let the cookies form up before moving them. Cool cookies completely before stacking or storing. Cookies keep at least 1 week in an airtight container.


Buy The Ingredients
Product nutrition and information
 Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
  Land O'Lakes Unsalted Butter - $5.99/ea
 4ct, 4oz ea
 
  Nature's Yoke Natural Cage-Free Large White Eggs - $3.99/ea
 1 dozen
 
  Spice Select Pure Vanilla Extract - $8.99/ea
 2fl oz
 
  Hershey's Baking Cocoa - $4.99/ea
 8oz
 
  Domino Dark Brown Sugar - $1.69/ea
 1lb
 
You May Already Have
  Just FreshDirect Unbleached All-Purpose Flour - $4.29/ea
 5lb
 
  Davis Double Acting Baking Powder - $3.99/ea
 10oz
 
  La Baleine Fine Sea Salt - $4.69/ea
 26.5oz
 
  Domino Granulated White Sugar - $2.79/ea
 2lbs
 
  Arm & Hammer Baking Soda - $1.39/ea
 16oz
 
  If You Care Parchment Baking Paper - $5.99/ea plus tax
 70sq ft
 
Estimated Total:  
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