All content copyright Katrina Hall 2008 through 2025

Friday, November 1, 2013

martha's sugar cookies

I will never forget the first time I saw Martha Stewart's first book, Entertaining.  It was published in 1982, but I cannot remember the year my older sister showed it to me, could it have been that long ago?  I don't even remember if she bought it for me, or if I got it for myself, but it was like a bolt of lightning.  Beautiful photographs, perfect recipes - that worked!    I was blindsided and in love.  

I've made these cookies over and over - I make pale pink ruffled hearts for Valentine's Day.  Christmas reindeer and stars .  Teddy bears and one year, a group of cactus.  It is an easy dough to work with, and very forgiving - you can roll out the dough two more times using the scraps, without much difference in a splendid butter cookie, as long as you chill the dough in between.

I find her icing also easy - here I used one drop of blue to make this pretty Tiffany blue, then rolled the edges in sparkling sugar, which I found at Your Kitchen Store in Keene, NH.

Today I made these classic rounds for a friend who called at the last minute, in need of a few little treats for a book talk.

Martha's Iced Sugar Cookies

2 cups King Arthur all purpose flour
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 cup ( 1 stick) room temperature unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 T. brandy ( I used Courvoisier)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the icing:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 egg white
few drops of lemon juice
1 drop blue liquid food coloring

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
Cream butter and sugar, then add the egg, brandy and vanilla and mix well.
Add dry ingredients a bit at a time and mix well.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in fridge 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. ( PS:  She specifies 400F, but I use 350F)

Slice the dough in half, and roll out each half to about 1/8 inch thick.
Use cookie cutters of your choosing and place on a baking sheet lined with clean foil.
Bake for 10 minutes - do not allow to brown!  Remove cookies to cooling rack until completely cool. If you are making several batches, turn down the heat by 5 degrees after the first two batches.

Mix icing ingredients well in a mixer bowl,  brush cookies once or twice (letting the cookies dry in between), then roll edges in sparkling sugar.

This recipe makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies, depending on how thinly you roll the dough.

What I'm doing:

Lots of lazy walks under a bower of still-brilliant yellow leaves,  bouncing on spongy beds of bright green mosses, watching the water in the pond, which will be all-too-soon frozen, and loving those little children in my life.


diary of a tomato said...

Sparkly cookies, irresistible! This brings back memories of freelancing at Clarkson Potter, and working on one of her cookbooks... it was like dropping into Martha-land, this little spot of beauty in the middle of gritty NY.

katrina said...

Wow - that I didn't know about you, Diary! You described it perfectly, or at least how I saw Martha-land in those days - what a wonderful experience!

elizabeth said...

Hi Katrina. Do you always use foil for baking these or is parchment just as good?

katrina said...

Elizabeth - Parchment is fine. When I started baking cookies a LONG time ago, I was told to use a clean sheet of foil for every batch of cookies, so I do. Never liked Silpat sheets, which always looked unwashed to me.

elizabeth said...

I bought a huge box of parchment sheets from a restaurant supply a couple years ago. I try to re-use them if I can, especially for things like sourdough dog biskets, which aren't greasy.
I agree silpat sheets are strange, I had one once and it always felt greasy to me, then I accidently cut holes in it and never bought another.

I'll try one sheet of cookies with foil and one with parchment and see if there is any difference. Thank you

elizabeth said...

My first batch @350 for 10mn was too soft, they should turn out crisp, right? I turned up the heat for the second batch and I think they turned out right, taste is great

katrina said...

Elizabeth - it could be your oven - they get crisper as they cool. Sounds like you've worked out what the problem was - and solved it! Glad you liked them!