As Papa says, if you have Ghost (cookies) you have everything. Since they are heading out on another tour in America, we thought we would make these Grucifix cookies to celebrate.
Since we wanted the actual cookie to look similar to a communion wafer, we made sugar cookies, but if sugar cookies aren’t your thing, feel free to use any type of batter. The black and white Grucifix design is made with Royal Icing so if you are a beginner in the field of baking just know this is a challenging recipe. Royal Icing is hard and anyone that tells you differently is a liar. Or they drink far less caffeine then we do and have steadier hands. As our contributor, Winter Doom say, “Royal Icing is a son of a bitch.”
There is no alternate recipe for gluten free or vegan attached because we are not that savvy so if you have your own spin on this that you would like to add, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section below.
Recipe is below Ghouls and Ghulehs, enjoy with your favorite unholy communion wine.
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the royal icing!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
I have this broken down as a per batch measurement since some batches require coloring. You have the option of making one large batch and portioning it out, just increase the amount depending on how large you want the batch to be. I ended up making three batches for the icing on these cookies; one regular white, one black and one flood white. I will explain the flooding technique in a bit.
1 cup confectioners sugar per batch
1 egg white per batch
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Black food coloring gel
3 plastic piping bags
#2 piping tip
Preheat oven to 300F
Combine butter and shortening on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. I have a Kitchenaid and use the paddle attachment but if you are using a standard mixer, regular beaters are also fine. Add sugar, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda and beat until combined. Be sure to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl to include excess. If you use a paddle attachment, I recommend one that has the rubber scraper on the edge so it wipes down the bowl as it mixes.
Next beat in vanilla extract and egg yolks until combined. Beat in flour in increments until combined.
Prior to shaping the dough, place in fridge for 15 minutes. It will be much easier working with slightly chilled dough as opposed to it being room temperature and sticky.
Once you have it chilled, you have two options for shaping the dough. Your first option is to shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a nonstick cookie sheet. If you prefer to have the cookies as a more perfect circle, so they look more like wafers, you can either use a circular cookie cutter or you can take a clean can, cut off the lid and the bottom and use that as your cutter. Be sure to dust the cookie cutter with flour to keep it from sticking to the dough.
Bake at 300º for 13-15 minutes but do not let the edges brown. Cool on the baking sheet for one minute before transferring to a wire rack.
Royal Icing aka The Devil:
Once the cookies are completely cool you can start on the royal icing. The reason I make the icing in batches is because the design is a slower process and I don’t want to have icing sitting around with enough time to potentially dry out. If you are less caffeinated and can work quickly, make a larger batch.
In a mixer using the balloon whip attachment, add confectioners sugar and cream of tartar and just mix briefly to blend. Add the egg white and begin whipping on high speed. The reason I use the cream of tartar is because it will give the royal icing a nice stark white color. Without it you will end up with a dingy white that you will have to lighten using white food gel. Using it will save you some time and energy.
The mixture will look slightly white/grey at first, continue mixing until it changes to the nice bright white shade and you get nice peaks when you lift the beater. If the mixture seams too runny you can add more sugar but these measurements should yield the proper consistency.
My first batch of icing I use to draw the crucifix on the cookie. So once you get the consistency you want, add black food gel until you get the shade you want. I ended up putting about 7-8 drops in overall. You can buy coloring gel at any baking store. It is much more concentrated so you will not need to add a lot to get the desired results.
Once the black is ready, place the icing in a plastic piping bag, with a #2 size tip. You can also use a plastic baggy and snip the corner. I find the piping bags are easier to use but find what works for you.
Place the piping bag in a mug and fold the extra over the edges. This way when you scoop the icing out, you aren’t wrestling with the bag and end up slopping it all over yourself. In case you are curious, I get everything all over me all the time so these are all tricks I have learned over time but still somehow end up covered in flour and sugar.
Once the icing is in the piping back, use a rubber band or hair elastic to tie the bag closed so it doesn’t drip out the other end and get all over your arms (something else I have done and not realized until it was everywhere).
You have to options for the Grucifix design. One is to freehand it, which is what I did. You will need to sacrifice a few cookies until you get your design steady and become familiar with how to control the piping bag. The other option is to draw the Grucifix on parchment paper with icing and do a transfer, then go over the outline with the icing.
Once you have the design done let it completely dry and make your next batch of icing. This will be plain white icing which we will use to pipe the border of the cookies to prepare for the flood icing. In essence you are creating a border so the flood icing doesn’t dribble off the cookie. This you will have to do freehand so don’t be like me and chug two cups of coffee right before starting. In my defense it was getting to be the wee hours of the night. Once the cookies are all piped set aside to let dry and begin making your flood icing.
Flood icing is initially made the exact same way. You will prepare your white royal icing as normal. Once it is done, you will remove from the mixer and then using a regular spoon, stir in one teaspoon of water at a time. Make sure you stir in one teaspoon at a time so you can keep track of consistency and stir gently to avoid creating air bubbles. You will be at the proper consistency when you can lift your spoon out of the icing and the ribbons that drizzle down disappear in 5 seconds from the surface.
Using a back and forth sweeping motion begin filling in the open space on the inside of your circle. The icing should meld into itself and create a nice smooth surface. We careful when you begin to flood around the Grucifix design that you do not squeeze too much out and flood over the edges, covering the design. You should gently fill in the crevices, and use the tips to nudge extra into corners. Keep those practice cookies from before so you can get a feel for the flood icing before doing your final batch.
The flood icing will take longer to dry so do not cover them, let them set for at least a couple hours. Once they are done, volunteer for a church bake sale and watch all hell break loose. Enjoy!