Not Martha

Coffin Surprise Cookies

A few years ago I made Trick Or Treat Cookies for Halloween and back then I noted that I’d love to do an all-coffin version. And look! It only took me three years!

I decided to imprint the tops with wood grain using a mat meant to imprint on clay, something I first spotted on Martha Stewart (video, there with Jeff Daniels on an April Fools episode). Doing a little research I found Haniela’s (video) has also created these, and her instructions are wonderful. She’s got a lot of great videos for Halloween baked goods, check out this Monster Eye Cake.

I bought my wood grain mat from a local pottery supply store, it’s the wood grain mat sold by Chinese Clay Art. There is a larger wood grain impression mat for fondant on Amazon. (I would have bought that one if I’d had time, also note: affiliate links.)

When you’re cutting out the cookies roll to 1/4″ thick. Roll the dough between two layers of parchment paper, this will keep the chocolate cookies nice and dark. I have a tiny kitchen so I roll dough on my dining room table using a medium sized Roul’pat. It’s pricey but I adore it, it grips the table and the parchment nicely so things don’t slide around, it gives me plenty of space to work on and I can roll it up to store away.

You’ll need one woodgrain top, one flat bottom and two layers of hollow sides for each cookie. I made these with two hollow layers in the middle, instead of the single layer from my original Trick or Treat Cookies, to allow for more room for candy. I used round cutters to cut out the insides because it was far easier than trying to trim out the middles and laziness ruled that day.

I used dark chocolate candy melts to use as glue because it sets faster, but if you have the time real chocolate would taste better. Use a plastic bag with a very small corner snipped off, no need to get out piping tips or a decorating pen for this one.

Gathering candies to go inside was a lot of fun, I wandered around a particularly well stocked candy shop long enough for the employees to get curious and start suggesting spooky candy for me. Here I have:

I wish I had bought the salted licorice black cats because it would make for an interesting good/bad surprise depending on who gets it inside their cookie. I’m pro licorice myself. The wrapped chocolate eyeballs shown here didn’t actually fit in the cookies so let’s all just ignore them. La la la. (Note: affiliate links above.)

Here is the best thing I learned from doing this project: clay art or pottery supply stores are excellent places to get interesting baking supplies. Wandering around Seattle Pottery Supply I saw a whole bunch of tools meant for fondant or baking and I was stunned by the amount of plunger cutters
that allow you to make teeny tiny cookies. Next time I have some creating baking in mind I’m planning to head to the pottery supply store first.

Click more for the recipe:

Chocolate Cut-out Cookie Recipe

This dough takes like brownies and it keeps it’s shape really well. It was adapted from Haniela’s.


  • 2 sticks (226 grams) room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup (140 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (70 grams) cocoa powder
  • 3 cups (450 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder


    Put sugars and butter in your mixing bowl.

    Combine the eggs and vanilla and beat just until mixed.

    Put the flour, salt and baking powder in a larger bowl and stir or sift to combine.

    Beat the butter and sugar until it is fluffy.

    Add the egg mixture to the butter mixture slowly.

    On low speed add the cocoa powder to the mixer bowl until it’s all well combined.

    Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl in three or four additions, using low speed.

    Scrape the dough onto a cutting board and knead to get rid of any flour streaks until the dough is a uniform dark brown color.

    Divide the dough into three pieces, flatten each slightly and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours or up to overnight.

    Roll the dough between two layers of parchment to 1/4″ thick.

    Bake cookies at 375 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes depending on the size. (The narrower center pieces will bake much faster.)

This image is here for use on Pinterest. Pin it if you’d like but, you know, no pressure:

· comments [11] · 10-23-2015 · categories:halloween · holidays ·

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 KC // Oct 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    So, I occasionally get a bit itchy about using not-meant-for-food things with food for unknown other people (because who knows what’s in there in terms of lead/etc.)(I’m also one of Those People who checks whether specific kinds of flowers are poisonous [generally easy to find online!] and whether they’re reasonably unsprayed [or well-washed] before poking them into a wedding cake, because I would feel so mean if I made the grandparents or the flower girl sick…).

    If anyone else also gets itchy about this but wants to use the cool clay stuff and is looking to just *slightly* mitigate risk factors, you can 1. wash things really really well, and then with some things you can 2. coat them in food-grade beeswax (rub it on) to reduce (note: not eliminate, reduce) material transfer. Obviously it’s also helpful to minimize contact time – not letting things “sit” with non-food-grade materials, particularly if your foods are especially reactive [acidic or alkaline; both can pull “interesting” things out of materials], and not combining heat and food and your not-food-safe stuff (again, heat tends to cause more transfer capabilities).

    That said, Halloween is probably one of the more freely plastic-gnawing holidays out there and the risks are extremely low and I don’t think medically-compromised people are likely to be eating surprise-coffin cookies anyway. :-) But being aware of which items in your kitchen are properly food safe (and to what temperatures) vs. not can be helpful for added peace of mind at non-Halloween-y events where you might have people with more sensitive systems (esp. small children and people on a lot of different medications; there may be other populations who are more chemically sensitive as well?).

    Of course, my grandma used cookie cutters welded together with lead and all her kids survived. So there’s that, too. :-) But this is how I personally walk the line between things registered as safe for culinary use vs. things that are unregulated…

  • 2 megan // Oct 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    KC – This is a very good point and one that I admit I glossed over. The yellow mat shown is from Chinese Clay Art and it’s listed on their site under the “Food Decoration” section. It does have a patent # and here is the patent listing, but that doesn’t have any mention of it being intended for food.

    The other wood grain mat I found on Amazon is listed as being specifically for fondant and it says 100% Platinum Silicone and 100% Food Grade. I little Googling turns up articles that discuss things like siloxane migration when food is baked in silicone containers. They mention that things like spatulas and baby bottle nipples seem to be safe enough, things that don’t undergo a temperature change while in long contact with food.

    Disclaimer: I am not a scientist and I admit I play fast and loose with my stunt food projects.

    Thank you for pointing this out!

  • 3 KC // Oct 23, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Oh, totally, not a chemist either. I kind of wish I was, so I’d be able to tell the difference between “this is negligible/harmless” and “actually, y’know, you don’t want to do that.” I’m also not against those fabulous little silver sprinkle ball things (dragees?) despite whatever the State of California asserts about them [okay, I wouldn’t encourage a child to eat an entire bottle, but a few with a slice of birthday cake? sure!]. And I feel fine about using a non-food mat to shape dough or fondant (although I’d probably wash it extra-well and grease it to provide a bit of a buffer). But sometimes people do stuff like bake things or mold hard candy in molds made for non-food things and… eh, that is a bit more potentially perturbing even for “normal person” eating, between the long contact time and the temperatures. So I was more noting that it’s good to be aware of this distinction when interacting with “finds” in the clay store rather than objecting to what you were doing here with the fabulous wood-grain mat. :-) (by the way, these are awesome. I think I forgot to say that in the previous comment, but they are; I especially like the bones-and-chocolate-covered-pop-rocks combination.)

    I do tend to assume things listed as food grade are safe enough, and while we’ve discovered various things are less inert than assumed (BPA, for instance), there’s not much more the average non-chemist can go on without going full-alarmist-mode. Also: stunt food! This is not something you’re ingesting as a major part of your diet day in and day out. Trace oddities are not going to harm most people.

    (for more definitely hazardous food, see the older holiday treat of “snapdragon”, in which a cake/pudding, accompanied by raisins or other small dried fruit, was set alight in a sea of liquor, and the children were encouraged to grab out raisins *while they were on fire* and eat them; apparently the trick to not getting singed is to move quickly enough and close your mouth really fast, which is something children eventually learn. But not generally immediately. And if if the entire dish gets tipped as kids are jerking back from the flames, then there can be fatalities or simply house fires. *That’s* some unsafe food…)

  • 4 Merith // Oct 24, 2015 at 12:22 am


    How many grams you used butter? In Finland we have very many sizes buttter sticks so it’s hard to find right weight:) Your cookies are really good looking for halloween.

  • 5 megan // Oct 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Merith – I’m so sorry! It’s 226 grams. I’ve added that to the recipe above as well, thanks for asking about it.

  • 6 Megan // Oct 24, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    I absolutely love these! I can’t wait until my girls are a little older (so they won’t get scared) and we can make these together. Thanks for sharing.

  • 7 Nicky // Oct 25, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Funny you say hitting the pottery shop for baking supplies. I hit the kitchen store for some of my tools for Polymer clay. Though those cookies look amazing.

  • 8 megan // Oct 26, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Megan – Earlier I made very similar cookies that are less spooky, especially if you stick to pumpkins!

  • 9 megan // Oct 26, 2015 at 11:20 am

    Nicky – Ha, awesome! In my case the pottery store is closer than any serious kitchen shop so I might find myself going there a lot more often.

  • 10 Kimmie // Oct 27, 2015 at 12:35 am

    Hi Megan – these are amazing! I’m planning on making them for my nephew’s birthday, but was wondering how big the coffins are?

  • 11 googlemail // Aug 3, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    I absolutely love these! I can’t wait until my girls are a little older (so they won’t get scared) and we can make these together. Thanks for sharing.

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