1. Take it to the next level.
The recipes in this book make ordinary cookies absolutely extraordinary. Whether a classic with a twist, like the Tahini Cookies (page 00) and the Key Lime Sablés (page 00), or an embellished creation, like the Cherry Blossom Cookies (page 00) and the Birch Bark Tuiles (page 00), these treats will introduce you to new flavors, textures, and techniques. We utilized equipment that isn’t traditionally used for cookies (think madeleine pans and meat mallets), tried new toppings, and tested unusual flavor combinations for old favorites. But above all, we made sure every cookie was delicious.
2. Be prepared.
To avoid any surprises, read through the recipe before getting started, and have your ingredients measured and prepped. Does the butter need to be at room temperature or melted? Should the nuts be toasted and the chocolate chopped? Have you measured the dry ingredients? A good mise en place ensures a smooth baking process.
3. Get to know your oven.
All ovens are different and may vary in temperature, so it’s smart to keep a stand-alone thermometer in the oven for accuracy. Since most cookies are small and don’t bake for very long, you should set a timer and also keep an eye out for other doneness cues. Some cookies should be dry and firm to the touch, others golden at the edges or just barely set.
4. Set up the racks.
For one sheet of cookies, place the rack in the center of the oven. If baking two sheets at a time, racks should be in the upper and lower thirds. Halfway through the baking time, rotate the sheets top to bottom and turn them front to back to ensure even baking.
5. Line the baking sheets.
Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats for easy cleanup and even baking. They provide some insulation and can prevent scorching on the bottom of your cookies.
6. Take time to chill.
If a recipe calls for chilling the cookie dough, don’t skip this important step, as it will affect the final outcome. (Be sure to factor chilling and resting into your total baking time.) Chilling keeps butter solid, so the dough is less likely to spread during baking. It also concentrates flavor, allowing the sugar time to absorb more liquid. You’ll have more golden-colored cookies with chewy, crispy spots throughout.
7. Store your cookies properly.
Let the cookies cool completely before storing, as trapped heat will make the cookies soggy, and layer them between waxed paper or parchment so they don’t stick together. Crunchy cookies and soft cookies shouldn’t be stored in the same container; the crisp ones will absorb the moisture from the others and lose their snap. Most cookies will keep for about three days, some are best the day of, and a few can keep for weeks or even improve over time, such as shortbread and biscotti—if they last that long.1
All Dressed Up
Trading in the everyday for something far more special, these cookies take it to the next level in shape, color, and flavor. They’re frosted, dusted, swirled, and embellished—thoroughly dressed to impress.Pastel Butter Cookies
To give a batch of almond shortbread cookies the pastel treatment, dust them with tinted confectioners’ sugar. We blended the sugar with finely ground freeze-dried fruits (blueberry, raspberry, and mango) for subtle, all-natural hues.
1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for pastel sugars
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Freeze-dried fruits in various colors, such as blueberries, raspberries, and mangoes1.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place toasted almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Add flour, salt, and cinnamon, and process until nuts are finely ground, about 1 minute.2.
In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add vanilla and beat until combined. With mixer on low, gradually add almond mixture and beat until just incorporated.3.
Using a 11/2‑inch (1‑tablespoon) cookie scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are just turning golden, 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer sheets to a wire rack and let cool completely.4.
For each desired color, place 1/2 cup fruit with 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor; process until smooth and evenly tinted. (Sugars can be stored in airtight containers up to 1 month.) Place tinted sugars in small bowls and dip cookies, domed-side down, into tinted sugars to coat. Transfer to a plate and let rest, about 30 minutes. (Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.)TIP
We used natural food coloring from freeze-dried fruits (found in the snack section of large grocery stores) to decorate these cookies, but for a broader palette of colors, look for the array of pastel powdered sugars at specialty baking stores.
Copyright © 2019 by Martha Stewart Living. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.