As October 31 approaches, it’s time to start thinking of the scary, sparkly — or more subtly seasonal — elements you’ll incorporate into your annual Halloween party scene. Will you go glam or goth? Eerie or elegant? Whatever your Halloween style, here’s a showstopper that doubles as decor and dessert: That’s right, this fanciful cookie and candy mansion, made with black cocoa powder and muscovado sugar, is completely edible — a break-and-eat house that will impress friends and trick-or-treaters alike.
Want to take your haunted house to the next level? Add candy ghosts, miniature headstones and vampire bats with silicone Halloween molds; if you’re short on time, you can also use ready-made sweets like gummy eyeballs and marshmallow jack-o-lanterns. Use your imagination!
Step 1: Make the cookie house
You will need:
- 1/2 pound unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Muscovado sugar*
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup black cocoa powder, plus more if needed
- Pinch of salt
- Parchment paper
- Haunted house templates
*Muscovado sugar is unrefined and deep in color, with a molasses flavor, so it contributes to the cookie’s dark color and sturdiness. If you can’t find Muscovado sugar locally, then dark brown sugar can be substituted in an equal amount.
Mix the dough. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugars together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage or the cookies may spread while baking.
Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture, and mix on low speed until a dough has formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. (The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed; this is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency.)
If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice-cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough clumps. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add additional cocoa powder 1 tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky.
Roll the dough flat between sheets of parchment paper and chill until ready for use, at least 30 minutes.
Print out the house templates, then cut out each shape and place atop the chilled dough. Cut the dough along the edges of the templates, using a small paring knife for areas of detail, like the eaves of the roof.
Use a large spatula and your hand to carefully transfer the cut-dough pieces to parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake the cookies at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until the cookies are fragrant and slightly puffed. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet.
Step 2: Assemble and decorate the haunted house
You will need:
- 12-inch round cake board
- Black wrapping paper and clear tape
- 5 ounces semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
- Disposable piping bag or zip-top bag
- 2 ounces white candy melts
- 2 ounces orange candy melts
- Yellow icing sheet
- Food color marker in black or blue
- Kitchen scissors
- Corn syrup and artist’s brush
- 10 chocolate wafers, crushed
- Halloween-themed silicone mold (optional)
Before you begin assembling the house, cover the cake board with the wrapping paper and secure it with tape on the underside. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 100% power in 30-second intervals and stir until smooth; transfer to a disposable piping bag or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped.
Assemble the house. Attach the front of the house to the side using melted chocolate. It may be helpful to use a support to keep the pieces upright; I used a 14-ounce can, but you could also use a heavy mug or tumbler. Let the pieces dry about 30 minutes. Attach the remaining pieces to the house using the chocolate, moving the can as you go so that it supports the newly added pieces. Allow the house to dry completely.
Carefully transfer the structure to the covered cake board. Pipe the chocolate (reheat if necessary) around the top edges and place the roof piece flat on top. Allow chocolate to harden.
Meanwhile, use the leftover melted chocolate to create characters using a silicone mold; you can also use white and orange melted candy in the same way. Transfer the silicone mold to the refrigerator to harden while you decorate the house.
Make the windows. The luminous windows are created using a yellow icing sheet. Icing sheets are paper-like sheets of sugar and food starch. You can find them at most craft stores in the baking aisle; they can also be ordered online.
Remove the yellow icing sheet from the package and peel off the clear acetate backing. Use kitchen scissors to cut small shapes for doors and windows.
Use the food color marker to draw on window panes and doorknobs. Lightly brush the backs of the icing sheet pieces with corn syrup and arrange them on the front of the house.
Add finishing touches. Take the silicone mold from the refrigerator and remove the hardened candy character pieces. Use leftover melted chocolate or candy to affix spooky candy residents on and around the house.
Sprinkle crushed chocolate wafers on the cake board around the house to mimic fresh soil. Place candy tombstones upright in the crushed wafers — then step back to admire your delectable handiwork!