1. Spooky Witch Fingers
|1.||Combine the butter, sugar, egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer; gradually add the flour, baking powder, and salt, continually beating; refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes.|
|2.||Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease baking sheets.|
|3.||Remove dough from refrigerator in small amounts. Scoop 1 heaping teaspoon at a time onto a piece of waxed paper. Use the waxed paper to roll the dough into a thin finger-shaped cookie. Press one almond into one end of each cookie to give the appearance of a long fingernail. Squeeze cookie near the tip and again near the center of each to give the impression of knuckles. You can also cut into the dough with a sharp knife at the same points to help give a more finger-like appearance. Arrange the shaped cookies on the baking sheets.|
|4.||Bake in the preheated oven until the cookies are slightly golden in color, 20 to 25 minutes.|
|5.||Remove the almond from the end of each cookie; squeeze a small amount of red decorating gel into the cavity; replace the almond to cause the gel to ooze out around the tip of the cookie.
2. Spooky Mice
|1.||Melt the chocolate, and combine with sour cream. Stir in 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until firm.|
|2.||Roll by level tablespoonfuls into balls. Mold to a slight point at one end (the nose).|
|3.||Roll dough in confectioners sugar (for white mice), and in chocolate cookie crumbs (for dark mice). On each mouse, place dragees in appropriate spot for eyes, almond slices for ears, and a licorice string for the tail.|
|4.||Refrigerate for at least two hours, until firm.
3. Owl Cookies
1. Preheat oven to 350° (325° if using convection heat).
2. In a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until blended, then beat on high speed until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; beat on low speed until combined, then on medium speed until well blended. Divide dough into three portions.
3. Place each portion between two sheets of floured plastic wrap. Roll dough evenly into flat rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Stack rounds on a baking sheet and chill until firm, at least 45 minutes, or up to 2 days.
4. Working with one portion of dough at a time (keep remaining chilled), peel off top sheet of plastic wrap. Set floured pattern (see notes) on dough and cut around edges. Or with floured round cookie cutters (3-in. diameter), cut out cookies, placing cutters as close together as possible. Transfer to cooking parchment-lined or ungreased baking sheets, placing cookies about 1 inch apart. Repeat with remaining dough rounds. Gather up scraps and press together into a ball. If dough is still cold, roll and cut out remaining cookies. If it’s soft and sticky, repeat step 3.
5. Bake cookies until firm to touch and slightly darker brown around edges, 8 or 9 minutes; if baking more than one sheet at a time in one oven, switch positions halfway through baking. Slide parchment with cookies off sheets onto racks or counter to cool, then remove from parchment. Or cool on pans about 1 minute and then transfer to racks to cool completely. If not using cooking parchment, wipe off baking sheets after each batch. Cool sheets before filling with more cookies.
6. Spread icing over cookies and decorate with candies, using candy corn for a beak and chocolate chips for eyes. Let stand until icing is firm, about 5 minutes.
Icing: In a small bowl, stir together 2 cups powdered sugar and just enough milk (about 3 tablespoons) to make a spreadable icing. If desired, tint with food coloring. If icing thickens as it stands, stir in a few more drops of milk.
Trace an owl-shaped pattern (for a template, see http://www.sunset.com/owl) on heavy paper or lightweight cardboard, or use cookie cutters in any shape. You can make the cookies up to 2 days ahead; store airtight.
4. Autumn Punch
1. Simmer spices, vermouths, cranberry juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and let steep 1 hour.
2. Chill remaining ingredients in a large container. Strain spice mixture into wine mixture and chill until ready to serve.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.