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Witch's Finger Bread Sticks with Maple Mustard Dip

MakesMakes 4 dozen fingers and 1 1/4 cups dip
  • Active time: 1 hr
    Total time: 1 1/2 hr
We guarantee you'll be cackling with delight as you roll and stretch bread dough into these shockingly realistic gnarled fingers, from the fungus-green almond-slice nails with bloody cuticles, to the pretzel-salt warts. Turn these into the centerpiece of a Halloween party and get your kids or your friends in on the action. Give prizes for the scariest and most realistic. Above all, let your freak flag fly high!

INGREDIENTS:

For Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

For Fingers:

  • 10 drops green food coloring
  • 48 sliced almonds or peanut halves
  • 8 drops red food coloring, diluted with 1/4 teaspoon water
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)
  • 1/2 tablespoon pretzel salt or coarse sea salt

For Dip:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup coarse-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or mild honey

EQUIPMENT:

  • Stand mixer with paddle attachment and dough hook; 1 or 2 small paintbrushes

INSTRUCTIONS:

For Dough:

  • Stir together water, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until sugar is dissolved; let stand until yeast bubbles, about 5 minutes.
  • Beat in 1 cup of flour on low speed until combined.
  • Clean dough from paddle, then attach dough hook. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 1/2 cups flour to mixture and beat until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 3 minutes. (If dough is too sticky, add enough of 1/2 cup remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is no longer sticky.)
  • Oil a large bowl and transfer dough to bowl, then turn dough over to coat it with oil. Cover bowl with a dry towel, then let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until it is double in size, about 1 hour.

For Fingers:

  • While dough is rising, place green food coloring in a small bowl, and using a paintbrush, paint one side of the almond slices or the rounded side of the peanut halves.
  • Heat oven to 450°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Divide dough into quarters. Work with 1 piece at a time, and keep remaining dough covered.
  • Roll one quarter into a 12-inch log, then cut it into 12 (1-inch) pieces.
  • Dust work surface with additional flour, if necessary, to facilitate rolling. Roll and stretch each piece into a craggy 5-inch "finger." Transfer fingers to baking sheets and let stand at warm room temperature, loosely covered with a smooth kitchen towel, until fingers are slightly puffed, 15 minutes.
  • Pinch top of fingers to look like knuckles, then lightly score each knuckle with a sharp knife.
  • Brush fingers with egg wash, then press on nails. With cleaned paintbrush, dab a little red color around the cuticles. Sprinkle fingers all over with pretzel or coarse sea salt.
  • Bake fingers until deep golden, about 15 minutes (form more fingers while first batch is baking). Transfer to a rack to cool.
  • Repeat forming and baking in batches with remaining dough.

For Dip:

  • Whisk together mayonnaise, mustard, and maple syrup until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.

COOKS' NOTES:

  • Witch's Finger Bread Sticks are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be made 1 day ahead and kept, tightly wrapped, in a resealable plastic bag, or frozen 1 week. Remove from bag and rewarm on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven before eating.
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