The simple technique of dragging a toothpick through chocolate on a white-frosted surface is fast and easy, but it results in a deliciously professional design that delights kids when they realize that they can do it themselves.
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 (6-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
1 recipe royal icing
1 Beat the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Add the egg and beat until fluffy. Blend in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing just until combined. Divide the dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap, and chill for 60 minutes.
2 Preheat the oven to 350˚F and grease 2 baking sheets.
3 On a floured surface, roll out one of the dough halves to a thickness of about 1/3 inch. Cut into circles using a 3-inch round cookie cutter or the top of a drinking glass. Gather and reroll the scraps. Repeat with the remaining dough half.
4 Carefully lift the cookies with a spatula and transfer them to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 8 minutes, until light golden. Do not overbake.
5 Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl, and melt the chocolate in the microwave: Heat on high for 60 seconds, and then stir well. If it’s not quite smooth, continue to heat in two or three 10-second bursts, stirring well after each burst. (Alternatively, you can melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, in a double-boiler, over just-simmering water. Avoid overheating, which can cause chocolate to seize up into a stiff mass.)
6 Spoon the melted chocolate into a ziplock bag. Seal the bag, pressing out any air. Use a toothpick and make a tiny hole in one corner of the bag to release a very thin stream of chocolate for writing.
7 To make the spiderwebs, spread white royal icing smoothly over the surface of each cookie. Immediately, before the icing can set, pipe a spiral of chocolate over the surface, starting in the middle and working outward. Starting in the center, use a toothpick to pull outward and inward, alternately, through the icing, making a spiderweb design.