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Make an (Edible!) Haunted House

Oct 26, 2020

by Heather Baird

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

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 decorating scheme. Will you go glam or goth? Eerie or elegant? Whatever your spooky 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 treat that’s as fun to munch on as it is to make.

To take your haunted house to the next level, garnish it with some ghoulish occupants, like candy ghosts, vampire bats, and mini headstones crafted from silicone Halloween candy molds. For a shortcut, you can also use ready-made sweets like gummy eyeballs and marshmallow jack-o-lanterns. Use your imagination!

No time get your DIY on? Etsy sellers are at the ready with handmade sweets, supplies, and kits guaranteed to dress up your dessert spread.

A collage of Halloween treats and DIY kits available on Etsy.
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Assorted Halloween cookies from TS Cookies, from $39; pumpkin cookie cutter from Cookies by Em, from $3; DIY monster slime popcorn kit from Craft Crumb Bake Kits, from $12; pumpkin rolling pin from Make 8 Bake, $29

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.

Mixing the dough.

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 one tablespoon at a time until the dough clumps. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add additional cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time until it is no longer sticky.

Removing the chilled, flattened dough from the parchment paper.

Roll the dough flat between sheets of parchment paper and chill until ready for use, at least 30 minutes.

Cutting around the castle template.

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.

Cutouts of the various castle cookie elements, ready to be assembled and decorated.

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:

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.

Assembling the castle using melted chocolate to bind the walls together.

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 for 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.

Assembling the castle using melted chocolate to bind the walls together.

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.

Filling a silicone candy mold with melted chocolate to create candy cats.

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.

A pile of yellow doors and windows cut from a sheet of icing.

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.

Drawing door details onto a piece of yellow icing.

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.

Affixing a candy ghost to the front of the house using melted chocolate.

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!

The completed haunted house on display.

Finally, complete the creepy scene with some terrifyingly cute tabletop decor.

A collage of Halloween table settings available on Etsy.
SHOP (clockwise from top left): Halloween cupcake toppers from Rocket and Fox, $14; ceramic Halloween cupcake box from Barruntando, $54; cozy fall candle from Natural Anni Essentials, from $17; personalized witches brew mug from ODYSEA Store, from $25

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