This recipe came about using information from several shortbread recipes, including this one at Le Petit Brioche. I like creepier, human-like fingers. Makes 40.
1 cup butter, softened
½ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted if it is lumpy
2 tsp vanilla (or 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp almond extract)
3 cups all-purpose flour
(optional) green food coloring
(optional) cocoa powder
red cake decorating frosting*
*You can keep this recipe all-natural by using melted chocolate in place of the red frosting. The frosting is easy to use, however, and makes gorier fingers. It also seems to keep in the fridge for… let’s just say, for a very long time.
1. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla. Add (optional) green food coloring for greenish fingers. You can use an electric mixer, but you’ll have to switch to using your hands when the dough stiffens, so it’s not really worth it to involve the mixer and then have to wash it.
2. Add 2 c. flour and mix. It’s easiest to use your hands. Don’t forget to take off your watch/rings and to roll up your sleeves properly the first time.
3. Add rest of flour (and even more) until the dough is stiff, like a pie dough. It always seems like too much, but then the dough absorbs it. I use a kneading-like motion, folding the dough and pressing with my palm. Dough should not stick to your hands. Stiffer dough will help the fingers keep their bony shape in the oven, while softer dough will expand into bloated-looking fingers (which might be a good thing).
4. You can add cocoa powder to make darker skin tones, or divide the dough and add cocoa powder to part of it.
5. Keep the bowl/dough away from heat. Chill for easier handling.
6. Shape 1 Tbsp of dough into 3-inch finger. Smaller fingers keep their shape better in the oven, plus you end up with more fingers. I roll the dough like a snake, then pat one end to flatten it. Then I place the finger on the cookie sheet and press on the sides to create a knuckle.
7. Place fingers 2-inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
8. Use a butter knife to make a flat spot for the fingernail and lines on the knuckle.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Edges and bottom should be slightly brown or the cookies will be too fragile. (Note: the browning is easier to see on cookies with no cocoa powder or green coloring.)
10. Cool for 2-3 minutes before removing cookies to wire rack.
11. When cool, attach sliced almonds as fingernails using frosting. I squeeze the frosting onto the almond and press the almond onto the finger. You can add extra frosting at the base of the finger or at the knuckle for a more bloody finger.