Bake up some Twilight Zone Spiral of Madness Cookies for #TwilightZoneDay!
You are traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of butter and sugar but of flavor. A journey into a wondrous cookie dough whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop – the kitchen!
You have no idea how excited I was when I first found out that May 11th is Twilight Zone Day!
The Twilight Zone is one of my earliest memories of watching television and films, and played a critical part in shaping me into the person I grew up to be. In fact, one of my favorite quotes comes from Rod Serling himself:
“Being like everybody is
the same as being nobody.”
The more I think about it, the more I realize how much this series means to my entire family. So many ‘inside jokes’ stem from quotes from the episodes. For example, anytime a child in the family needed to go on time-out, our family always referred to it as ‘sending them to the cornfield’ (episode 73, “It’s a Good Life”).
So needless to say, I wanted to create a recipe paying homage to this show that I hold so dear to my heart.
For those of you not familiar, Rod Serling was the creator and executive producer of the series (which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 through 1964) and is known as one of the most prolific genre writers in the history of TV. He wrote 92 of the 156 episodes, but was still heavily involved in the remaining 62 episodes, often collaborating with his contributing writers. On top of that, Serling was also the host and narrator of the show, delivering monologues before and after each episode.
Every episode of The Twilight Zone usually has a moral and a surprise ending, and features characters dealing with paranormal, futuristic, disturbing, or unusual events, with such experiences described as entering “the Twilight Zone.”
Serling met an untimely demise at the early age of 50, but his legacy continues on through the The Twilight Zone fandom.
One of the most iconic images from television is The Twilight Zone Spiral of Madness from the intro of the show, followed by a starry night sky depicting images of a closed door, an open eye, a clock, and a flying saucer.
Those images served as inspiration for my Twilight Zone Spiral of Madness Cookies, which feature black and light grey cookie dough swirled together, and rolled in shimmering nonpareils to mimic the starry night sky from the intro.
The dough for these Twilight Zone Spiral of Madness Cookies comes together very quickly with minimal ingredients, and can be flavored however you wish. I did two different versions – black cherry & vanilla bean, and vanilla-almond. You also can make the dough well ahead of time and keep it in your freezer until you’re ready to slice-&-bake them.
If you have not yet ventured into The Twilight Zone, I absolutely encourage you to do so. Every season of the show is currently available to stream on both Netflix and Amazon Prime, and many networks such as the SyFy channel host marathons from time to time.
Twilight Zone Spiral of Madness Cookies
What You Need:
- 3 Cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 Cup (2 sticks) of salted butter, softened but still lightly chilled
- 1 Cup of granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, cold
- 1 t. of clear vanilla extract
- 1 t. of clear almond extract
- 1/4 t. of ground cinnamon (optional)
- Black food coloring gel (I use Americolor)
- White nonpareils
- Alternative Flavor: 1/2 t. LorAnn Extra Strength Black Cherry + 1 t. vanilla bean paste
What To Do:
Making the Dough
Sift together the flour and cinnamon (if using) in a mixing bowl, and set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Mix for about 3 minutes on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
Turn the mixer speed to low and add in the cold egg. Mix until completely incorporated, around 30 seconds.
Then add in your flavoring extracts, and mix for about 20 more seconds. It is important to use clear flavoring extracts, as to not alter the color of the dough.
Next, gradually add in the flour mixture until completely combined.
Coloring the Dough
Shape the dough into a ball and divide it in half. I used a kitchen scale to be extra-precise and evenly divide it.
Add a very, very small amount of black food coloring to one half of the dough to get a light-grey color. If you don’t color it, the dough will bake as an off-white color – if you don’t mind this, then omit the coloring on this step. Knead the color into the dough using gloved hands, or return it to the mixing bowl until combined.
For the second half of the dough, do the same, adding more food coloring to get a deep black color. It doesn’t take much – remember that the dough will get much darker as it chills in the refrigerator.
Pat each section of dough into a disc-shape, wrap with plastic wrap, and allow to chill in the refrigerator for 30-45 minutes.
Once the dough has chilled, place the black cookie dough on a piece of parchment paper. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rectangle shape.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to 1/4″-thick, into an approximately 8″x9″ rectangle. I used rolling pin guide rings, but using 1/4″ wooden dowels on each side works great, too.
Repeat the same steps with the light grey cookie dough.
Once both pieces of dough are rolled out, place the light grey dough right on top of your black dough. Lightly use your rolling pin to ensure that they are firmly stuck together.
From the short end of the dough, very carefully start rolling it up, like a jellyroll. It’s important to try to get the dough as tight as possible. Use your parchment paper to guide the dough and prevent it from sticking to your hands.
After the dough is rolled up, wrap the cookie dough log in parchment paper, and twist the ends (like a candy wrapper). You can use twist-ties or rubber bands to hold it in place. Place the cookie dough log upright in a tall drinking glass – this will help the dough to retain it’s roundness. Chill in the freezer for at least 60 minutes, or in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
To Bake the Cookies
When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325° (F). Unwrap the dough and slice into 1/4″ slices using a sharp knife.
Pour your nonpareils into a bowl (or, use coarse sugar). Roll the edges of the cookie slices to coat, and place the slices onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.