Martha Stewart’s Secrets to Baking Perfect Cookies (Recipes!)

martha1The editors of Martha Stewart Living present a new, fun source for anyone looking to make their go-to cookies even better and bolder. These recipes make ordinary cookies absolutely extraordinary – all the familiar favorites you love, but taken up a notch in variety, flavor, and creativity. Two of the book’s most popular holiday-themed recipes – Glazed Spiced Snowflakes and Honey-Spice Gingerbread Townhouses – are featured below for easy access.

As part of her introduction to the book, Martha Stewart writes, “It is our belief that this book will open up for you, the home baker, a new realm of cookie perfection. We hope that once you bake one—pick your favorite or start with one of mine, Molasses-Ginger Crisps—you will bake many more, and that you will experiment with flavors and ingredients, trying every recipe in this book. We would love to see your cookies and for you to share your experiences, so be sure to post photos on social media—it will be fun for all of us to see how you’ve used this book and enjoyed these recipes.”

Clarkson Potter Senior Editor Jenn Sit brought her valuable perspective and editorial expertise to this project, commenting, “In a gorgeous package just in time for holiday gift-giving, Martha’s newest book delivers exactly what her readers love from her: obsessively tested, never-fail baking recipes that look as spectacular as they taste. The collection has the perfect combination of classic, modern, and whimsical delights, and with her famous test kitchen standing behind every recipe as always, fans know they can reach for these treats with confidence, whether to impress guests or whenever the craving strikes.”


Glazed Spiced Snowflakes

Makes 7 Large, 12 Medium, and 36 Small Cookies


  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar


  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Make the cookies: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter with brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add half the flour mixture, then 1/3 cup water, then remaining flour mixture, beating on low after each addition until just incorporated. Shape dough into 3 disks and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  2. Working with one disk at a time, roll out to 1/4‑inch thickness on lightly floured parchment. Cover with a doily and gently roll to make an imprint. (Dough should now be about 1/8 inch thick.) Remove doily and freeze dough until firm, about 15 minutes.
  3. Using a 5-inch snowflake-shaped cutter, cut snowflakes from one disk. Cut remaining dough disks using 3-inch and 1 1/2‑inch snowflake-shaped cutters. Chill and reroll scraps. Arrange large cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and medium and small cookies together on another; freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325°F. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are set around edges, 16 to 18 minutes for large, 12 to 14 minutes for medium and small. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cool completely.
  5. Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. If necessary, add more milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until glaze is slightly thicker than cream. Dip each cookie, imprint side down, into glaze, tilting to evenly coat. Transfer to rack until glaze is set, about 10 minutes. (Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.)


Honey-Spice Gingerbread Townhouses

Makes 1 Dozen

A fragrant gingerbread cookie is the basis for these elegant and impressive townhouses. The dough is sweetened with honey and spiced with warm ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Since the flavor of gingerbread cookies improves over time, these can be displayed during the holidays and are perfect for gifting. When decorating the townhouses, remember to squeeze the pastry bag with one hand and use the other hand to guide the tip.

  • 5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • Royal Icing (recipe below)
  • Fine sanding sugar, for decorating
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, and spices. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then honey and molasses. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture until well combined. Divide dough into 3 pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm but still pliable, about 1 hour.
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Working with a third of dough at a time, roll out to 1/4‑inch thickness on generously floured parchment. Brush off excess flour, transfer dough on parchment to a baking sheet, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
  2. Use the townhouse templates (page 247 of Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection) or 6-inch-tall house-shaped cutters to cut out 12 cookies. Transfer houses to parchment-lined baking sheets. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake cookies 6 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and tap firmly on counter to flatten cookies. Return to oven, rotating sheets, and bake until cookies are crisp but not darkened, 6 to 8 minutes more. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cool completely.
  3. Transfer icing to a pastry bag fitted with a fine plain tip (such as Ateco #1) or a closed star tip (such as Ateco #13). Pipe designs on cookies, then immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar; tap off excess. Let cookies stand at room temperature until set, at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight. (Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.)

Royal Icing

Makes About 2 Cups

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more if needed 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon meringue powder In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low, beat confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and scant 1/2 cup water until smooth and opaque white, about 7 minutes. If icing is too thick, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, beating until icing has the consistency of glue; if too thin, continue beating icing 2 to 3 minutes more, or add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Use immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 week; stir well with a flexible spatula before using.

Classic recipes discover new life with unexpected twists such as Brown-Butter Crinkle Cookies and Carrot Cake Thumbprint Cookies. Go over-the-top in super-sized fashion with Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookies; get inspired by cultures around the globe with Brazilian Wedding Cookies and Stroopwafels; and celebrate with beautifully decorated holiday treats, such as Easter Egg Puzzle Cookies and Snowball Truffles. Whether for a special celebration or a sweet anytime-treat, you’ll be sure to find inspiration to trade in your everyday cookies for versions far more special—and especially delicious.

Jocie McKade
Her fiction writing has received the Author / Ambassador at Library Journal Self-e Authors, Winner Queen of the West Reader Favorite Award, Amazon Bestseller - Historical, Double finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the Mystery and Humorous Categories. Writing humorous cozy mysteries and romantic comedy, Jocie can find humor in most everything, even when she shouldn't. She lives in the Midwest on Dust Bunny Farm with her family.

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