Cocoa Cats with Glowing Green Eyes

The glowing green eyes in these cocoa-rich cookies are hard candies that melt while the cookies bake. Use a cat cookie cutter or make a template out of a paper plate or cardboard.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, plus extra for rolling
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 green hard candies (such as apple-flavored Jolly Ranchers), crushed*
16 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
96 (1 1/2-inch) pieces red shoestring licorice

1. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.

2. Beat sugar and butter in large bowl at medium speed 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. At low speed, beat in cocoa until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until blended. Beat in flour mixture just until combined. Shape into 2 flat rounds; cover and refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes or until firm.

3. Heat oven to 350°F. On surface lightly dusted with cocoa, roll 1 dough round 1/4 inch thick. With tip of paring knife, cut out 8 (2 1/2x3-inch) cat heads. Cut out big triangular eyes. With spatula, carefully place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. With tip of knife, pull eye openings to make them as wide as possible without breaking. Repeat with remaining dough, placing 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet.

4. Cut off corner of bag holding crushed candy; generously fill eye openings with candy (try to keep candy off surface of cookies). Freeze cookies on baking sheet 15 to 30 minutes or until firm.

5. Bake about 8 minutes, watching carefully. Remove as soon as candy has melted and cookies look dry; don’t let brown.

6. Place baking sheets on wire racks. Immediately place 1 chocolate chip in center of each cookie for nose; let stand until slightly melted. Poke 3 strands of licorice into each side of nose to form whiskers. Cool completely. Carefully remove from parchment.

16 cookies

PER COOKIE: 205 calories, 7 g total fat (4 g saturated fat), 2.5 g protein, 33.5 g carbohydrate, 30 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

TIP *Place candy in heavy resealable plastic bag. With flat side of meat mallet or bottom of saucepan, crush into tiny pieces. (The smaller the pieces, the easier it will be to fill the eyes.)

Get another spooky recipe for Halloween: Pretzel Rod Frankensteins.

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