This Valentine’s Day, give the one who lights your fire an unexpected, fun gift created in your own kitchen: matchstick cookies! While these matchstick cookies may not in fact be flammable (phew!), they bring the heat with a zingy cayenne pepper-spiked candy coating. Easy DIY matchstick slider boxes decorated with colorful washi tape complete the illusion, making these treats a near lookalike to real matchboxes.
These biscuits are made from Pâte à Foncer, which is a French sweet short dough that can easily be made in a food processor. The recipe yields a large amount of authentic match-sized cookies, but you can make the matches any size you wish; larger matchsticks can be cut and placed in large slider boxes, just be sure to measure your box and cut the sizes accordingly.
Sweet Short Dough (Pâte à Foncer)
(Yields more than 200 matchsticks)
- 14 oz. all-purpose flour
- 3.5 oz. granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 8 oz. unsalted butter, cold
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 25 matchboxes (3 x 2 x 1/2-inches)
- Washi tape
- Red and yellow meltable candy disks (6 oz. each)
- Ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- Parchment paper
Step 1: Make the Cookies
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Pulse several times until the mixture is well combined. Cut the cold butter into cubes and place in a circle on top of the flour mixture; process until the mixture has the appearance of cornmeal. Add the vanilla and egg. Pulse in 8 to 10 second bursts, until the mixture is crumbly and clumps of dough begin to form.
Turn the crumbly mixture onto a work surface and knead well. Dust the work surface with additional flour if the dough wants to stick.
When the dough is smooth, shape it into a disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/4 inch thickness and place the dough in the freezer until very firm, about 30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the freezer and trim the edges so that they are square.
Cut a 2 3/4-inch wide piece of frozen dough using a large chef’s knife. Cut the dough piece into 1/4-inch-wide matchsticks. Immediately transfer the matchsticks to a parchment lined baking sheet, spacing them at least 1/4 inch apart. If the dough begins to soften, transfer it back to the freezer. (Note: It’s important to work with the dough while it’s frozen so the matchsticks will keep their shape.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
When all of the matchsticks are cut, transfer them to the freezer and chill for 10 minutes. Place the frozen cookies in the oven and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the tips of the cookies are lightly golden.
The bottoms of the cookies should be golden brown. Keep a sharp eye on the cookies as they bake; they are small and can easily burn. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 2: Make the Icing
Place the red candy melts in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 100% power at 30 second intervals until the mixture can be stirred smooth (about 1 minute). Be sure to stir well between heating to avoid scorching the candy.
Repeat the process with yellow candy melts. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper, if using, to the red melted candy and stir to combine.
(Note: Candy coating can sometimes thicken too much if heated for too long. If this happens to you, add white vegetable shortening a little at a time to the candy coating to thin it to the desired dipping consistency.)
Step 3: Decorate + Package
Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a work surface. Dip one end of each cookie into the candy and allow the excess to fall back into the bowl.
Lay the cookies on the parchment paper and allow them to set.
While the cookies are drying, prepare the matchboxes: Place a piece of decorative washi tape on both sides of each matchbox, cutting them to size with scissors. This represents the “striker strip” that is typically found on cardboard matchboxes.
When the cookies are set, package 8 match cookies into each matchbox. Hand out the boxes of cookies to delighted loved ones on Valentine’s Day.