The “Modern Witch” series of books is hands-down one of my favorites. In them, Nell and her family and friends make up “witch central”. For the witches in this lucky ‘verse, doing magic needs calories…lots of them…a need answered by Nell’s famous “Nutella Cookies”. The books never give a recipe, or even much of a description of the cookies, but one fan devised some tasty-looking ones – http://www.facebook.com/notes/debora-geary/ai-vys-most-awesome-nutella-cookies/440825319292173
These cookies, on the other hand, are a bit fussy and time consuming, so I doubt a working mother of five like Nell would take the time for cutouts. Bat shaped chocolate cookies (a la Lilly Munster) is a long time Halloween tradition at our house . This year I tweeked the recipe and incorporated Nutella. I never had much of an interest in Nutella until reading about it in a book, and my neices were raving about it this summer. So rather than trying to claim these as a stab at Nell’s signature dish, I’ll just call these “witch central” cookies as fan homage instead.
“Witch central cookies” are based on the “cream cheese cutouts” from the “Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook 10th edition”. I proceeded to mess with it from there:
1 pkg cream cheese
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs nutella
2 Tbs cocoa powder
4 Cups all purpose flour
Bring butter and cream cheese to room temperature. With electric mixer, cream together butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. beat in eggs. Then mix in vanilla, salt, cocoa and nutella. Mix in flour, stopping as soon as all the four is incorporated. Don’t over mix. If you have a wimpy hand mixer like mine and wind up adding the last flour by hand, over-mixing isn’t usually a problem. If you have some kind nuclear powered stand mixer, watch for over-working the flour.
Chill for several hours – I always just leave it overnight.
For soft cookies, roll thicker (around 1/8 to 1/4 inch) on a floured board. Cut into shapes and bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 for 10-11 minutes or until center is set, and the cookie is still “blonde”…or cooked but not very browned.
For a crispy cookie, roll thinner on a surface sprinkled with confectioners sugar instead of flour, and bake until “blonde” as above, also in a 375 degree oven.
I make the whole batch one shape…in this case, bats for halloween. Rounds or any other seasonal shape works fine.
We like them better un-iced, but they are perfect for decorating with royal icing like this great idea from Sweet Little Thang…http://sweetlittlethang.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/skeleton-gingerbread-men/
Or even better….the make them all the same shape thing was for a reason. We make peanutbutter sandwich cookies! Just spread a layer of your favorite creamy peanut butter between two cookies and enjoy! Or if you have an extra strong pancreas and are up for some serious sweetness…grab the nutella jar and put a thin layer of Nutella (or other chocolate hazelnut spread) between two cookies. What’s Halloween without some sort of serious chocolate-ness?
So thank you to Debora Geary for creating a universe like ‘witch central’, thank you to Nutella for being what it is, and thank you to Better Homes and Gardens for giving me one of my favorite cookie recipes! (If you think this is good, you should try their original vanilla / cream cheese flavor)