Hocus Pocus / Funfetti Cookies

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This week’s recipe: Funfetti Cookies

Friendtopia/We nostalgically watch Hocus Pocus/Friendtopia/Awww, I love Hocus Pocus!
Friendtopia/All citizens must watch Hocus Pocus/Friendtopia/Or else they will be killed/Zigazow!

I came to Hocus Pocus relatively late in life. It came out in 1993, when I would have been too young to see it in theaters, though from what I understand basically no one saw it in theaters anyway. Instead, they were exposed to it through endless rebroadcasts on the Disney Channel and ABC Family, which I also missed, since I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. And anyway, it was a scary movie! About witches! And I was/continue to be a huge wimp about anything scary. I was so traumatized by the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyworld that for years afterward, I would only refer to it as “H.M.”, as if using the full name would summon the ghosts and goblins that populated what, in retrospect, was probably a deeply silly and cheesy ride. Oh, and I once had to be removed in tears from a South Street Seaport attraction called “William Shakespeare’s Haunted Ship.”

So yeah, scary movies are not my thing. But seemingly everyone in my generation has a real fondness for Hocus Pocus, plus it’s a goddamned children’s movie (sort of—more on that shortly). So when Mark suggested we watch it one October night a few years ago, I decided that my desire to fit in with my peers was stronger than my fear of a Disney Channel movie where the main witch was played by Bette Midler of all people.

It’s such a loony movie! I’m not surprised that it performed poorly in theaters but later became a nostalgia item among adolescents and young adults; it’s very hard to know who it was made for. Ostensibly it’s for children but when it airs on TV, it’s rated as TV -14, i.e. unsuitable for children under 14. This may be referring to:

-The odd obsession with virgins. Quick plot summary: Three witches are killed in 17th century Salem and only a virgin lighting a candle on Halloween night can bring them back to life. In present day (i.e. 1993) Salem, Main character Max doesn’t believe in the supernatural and lights the candle. He, his sister Dani, his crush Allison, and a 17th century Salemite named Thackeray Binx whose soul has been eternally trapped in the body of a black cat spend the rest of the night trying to prevent the witches from luring the children of Salem into their lair so they can suck out their youthful essence. He also spends the whole movie being teased about being a virgin, basically every five to 10 minutes. The last words of the movie are Thackeray telling the ghost of his sister, “I had to wait 300 years for a virgin to light a candle!”

-The teen romance, which though generally quite tame, does involve a scene where Max appears to be masturbating while moaning Allison’s name. All while his prepubescent sister watches from a closet. Later on, said sister informs Allison that Max likes her “yabbos” at a Halloween party.

-The unending horniness of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Sarah Sanderson. Seriously, she will hump ANYTHING. It gets to the point where, when she sings to the children of Salem, “The time’s come to play/Here in my garden of magic” you are like, lady, that is DISGUSTING, those are little kids! Luckily, she meets her match in an equally horny bus driver. First he tells them that he will use his bus to convey them to their “most forbidden desires” (whatever that means). Then, when one of the witches, in search of youthful essence to steal, tells the bus drive, “We desire children,” he not-at-all subtly implies that he would be happy to get all three of them pregnant. Cause it’s a kids’ movie!

-Max slipping his “number” to Allison and the paper just saying “555.” Okay, there’s nothing inappropriate there, I just wanted to bring it up because it’s so weird.

However, one thing that Hocus Pocus has going for it on the appropriateness front is Allison’s 90s-tastic loose-sweater-and-jeans combo. If this movie were made today, they would have put her in a borderline-slutty Halloween costume and kept her in it for the rest of the movie.

There’s seriously all kinds of crazy in this movie. For instance, Max is tormented by two bullies, Jay and Silent Bob Ice, who steal his sneakers. Jay wears a leather jacket and a kilt and Ice has the word “Ice” shaved into the back of his head, so you know they’re bad boys. The witches capture Jay and Ice and leave them in cages hanging above their cauldron, but when Max comes back to the witches’ house to save Dani, he just takes his sneakers off of Ice’s feet and leaves them there! Teaching bullies a lesson is one thing, but at this point the witches are still alive and likely to return home and do God knows what to Jay and Ice. It seems disproportionate to leave someone to the mercy of women who suck out children’s essences, imprison people’s souls in animal bodies, sew people’s lips shuts with a dull needle, etc., just because he stole your shoes. Then there’s the part where Max and friends trap the witches in the school kiln and turn it on. A scene passes, and then blammo, the witches emerge from the kiln looking a little charred but otherwise fine. No explanation, and also no explanation as to why hanging (the way they died back in the 17th century) apparently kills witches but fire doesn’t. And of course, there’s the famous dance scene where the power of Bette Midler singing “I Put a Spell On You” causes all involved to dance until they fall over dead. The movie is full of crazy shit like this. That’s what makes it such a fun Halloween classic for all ages (except kids)!

So anyway, here are some cookies. Who doesn’t love funfetti? Mark and I made these one night while getting thoroughly tipsy on NPR wine—yes it’s a real thing—and hatewatching a fine anti-evolution film called A Matter of Faith. (Okay, so I made them, and Mark ate them, which is how it usually goes in our house.) A Matter of Faith is about a Christian girl who goes to college and almost gets seduced into the evil science-believing lifestyle by her biology professor. Luckily, she is saved by her dad, who agrees to debate the biology professor about the origins of life, and her love interest, who sports a truly unfortunate late-90’s-boy-band soul patch. At one point, Soul Patch confronts another boy who says that the professor is going to wipe the floor with the dad, and they have the following exchange (roughly, can’t say I remember the exact wording):

Soul Patch: So, is your mom the monkey?
Other Guy: What?
Soul Patch: Or was it your grandma?
Other Guy: Watch it, man!
Soul Patch: So your grandma didn’t look like a monkey and neither does your mom. How about your great-grandmother?
Other Guy: What’s your deal, man?
Soul Patch: We’re descended from apes, right? So who in your family was the monkey?
Other Guy: Do you seriously think that evolution means that apes give birth to human babies? No, evolution is a process that takes place over millions of years through advantageous mutations. The fact that you can’t grasp that makes me wonder how you got into college in the first place.

Just kidding. Other Guy says “Whatever” and slinks away, defeated by Soul Patch’s brilliant riposte.

A bunch of other dumb stuff happens, and the movie ends with the debate, which the dad is about to lose to the biology professor when a wise old black man comes up to the podium and saves the day. No, really. That’s what kind of movie this.

Anyway, I’ve gotten kind of off-topic, but I just wanted to demonstrate that that’s how simple this recipe is—you can make it while drunkenly watching creationist straight-to-video claptrap on Netflix and it still comes out perfectly. The recipe calls for clear vanilla extract but I only had the regular kind, I don’t know if it made any difference. I brought these to a house party where they were feted both for their festive look and delicious taste.

Funfetti Cookies

From The Wood and Spoon

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 tablespoons (140 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 gm) sugar
  • ½ cup (100 gm) brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons clear vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (260 gm) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (160 gm) rainbow sprinkles

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare sheet pans by lining them with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla and egg, beating on low until incorporated. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar, and beat on low speed just until the dry ingredients are combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sprinkles. Beat just until combined.
  3. Scoop out 1-1/2 tablespoon sized scoops (I use a medium cookie scoop) and roll each dough ball briefly in your hands to smooth out the rough edges of dough. Place on the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies have just begun to crack and the edges are set. Allow to cool on the sheet pans for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to complete cooling.
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