Halloween's cakes: simple cookies and masters of carving

On 31st of October each year, world prepares to celebrate one of the most “scary” events on the calendar: Halloween. Many believe that Halloween was born in America, but they are wrong. Halloween is a celebration created in Anglo-Saxon territory whose name comes to life from a Scottish variant of All-Hallows-Eve ", i.e. the night before all Saints Day.

Now this festival is celebrated in every corner of the world, especially by children, with the classic door to door from house to house yelling "Trick or treat"?

This tradition seems to arise during the medieval period, during which poor villagers used to knock from door to door, asking for some coins in exchange of prayers for the dead.

Regarding this festival, there is also the tradition to carve pumpkins and dig them in the strangest possible forms. Once carved, you have to put inside a candle light and turn this really beautiful sculpture into proper scary masks. There are real masters of carving around the world that create extraordinary figures, below I'll show you some of them:

Like any big celebrations, even during Halloween chef's fantasy explode, and over the years I saw a lot of very weird creations by them: everything from brain-shaped sweets, witch fingers made with pastry and almonds, to cupcakes with faux shards of glass as decoration and a lot more. I personally decided to make some simple shortbread cookies decorated with royal icing, and here you go the recipe, if you'd like to try to make them:

Ingredients for the cookies:

230 g butter at room temperature, 175 g icing sugar, 1 whole egg, 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract, 425gr plain flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt.

Preparation:

Mix the butter and icing sugar together for 2 minutes with an electric mixer. Add the egg and vanilla or almond extract (I used almond), and finally the flour and the yeast.

This pastry is easy and fast to make because unlike the others it doesn't need time to rest in the fridge.

Start to roll out the pastry but not too thin and cut cookies using many different cutters. Bake on a baking sheet coated with baking paper for about 8 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius, but always check that you won't burn them, because cooking depends from oven to oven. You will notice that after 8 minutes cookies at touch will still be a little soft, but they will harden as they'll cool down, so don't worry.

For the royal icing: to make the royal icing to decorate my cookies, I used one egg white, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 180 grams of icing sugar. Add egg little by little in the icing sugar, as well as the lemon juice until you get the desired consistency. Be careful not to do the icing too runny otherwise the designs on the cookies won't be very firm. Divide the frosting into small glasses or bowls and in each of them, add a few drops of food coloring. Mix well to blend the icing with color and once finished you can start decorating your cookies with the help of a sac a poche   with small nozzle at the end.

Happy Halloween to everyone!

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