Hallowe’en round here tends to be something of a big deal and the doorbell hardly stops ringing throughout the evening. While clearly there’s plenty of excitement among the children, I’ll confess to getting great pleasure from the appreciative oohs and aahs that I always get when I answer the door with a tray full of homebaked goodies! While I used to knock together some of my old faithful recipes, the fact that a couple of friends have children that can’t have eggs (this seems to be more and more common these days) I now always make egg free recipes on Hallowe’en .
These are a particularly simple but effective recipe, that you can also have fun making with the children. And thanks to the ‘injuries’ there’s plenty of leftovers for the cook to nibble on afterwards! I find this is enough to make about 30 shortbread people. Feel free to halve the amount if you want less.
- 7 ounces / 200g unsalted butter, softened
- 3¾ ounces / 110g caster sugar
- 13½ ounces / 380g plain flour plus extra for dusting
- icing sugar
- red food colour
- black writing icing
Cream the butter and sugar in a freestanding mixer with the paddle attachment.
Add the flour and continue to mix until you have a smooth dough.
Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. While you’re doing this, preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F (160°C / 320°F fan) and line 3 baking sheets with parchment.
Liberally dust a clean work surface and a rolling pin with the flour and having removed your dough from the fridge, roll it out about 5mm (1/5th inch) thick and cut with a gingerbread man shaped cutter. I find it easier to do this in about 4 batches (so breaking your original ball of dough into 4). Place your shortbread men onto your baking sheets about 1cm (¾ inch) apart.
Whenever you finish with some spare dough, just roll into a ball again, roll out and repeat the process, until all the dough has been used.
Cook your shortbread men in the oven for 17-20 minutes, until they are just starting to golden and crisp.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Once cool, use your black writing icing to draw on eyes and a mouth.
Combine your icing sugar with a little water and your red food colour to create a blood red icing. Slice off the top of the head of your shortbread man, as well as a foot (or, if you’re particularly sadistic, feel free to chop off other limbs or even his entire head!)
Using a spoon, drizzle the icing onto the severed limbs and set aside to dry. Repeat with the remaining shortbread men.