In an effort to force myself to actually make some recipes from the cookbooks I buy (instead of watching them collect dust on the coffee table), I’m committing to a once-monthly blog post I’ll call “Cook The Book.” Not to be confused with my other monthly “If I Liked It, Then I Should Have Put A  Ring [Binder] On It” posts, these dishes may not necessarily be ones I’ve made again and again (yet). This is just my effort to try out some cookbook recipes and share the results with you.
While I love coming up with new savory dishes, I’m the first to admit that I’m not a baker or a pastry chef. And what I mean by that is making up NEW baking and pastry recipes just isn’t my thing. In savory cooking, if something’s not working, it’s pretty clear – if it’s cooking too fast, take it off the heat. If it’s under seasoned, add some salt. You can make these little corrections on the fly and usually save your dish. But with baking, you generally don’t know that something has gone wrong until your dessert has come out of the oven – and then, it’s too late to correct it. And that makes me uncomfortable.
So, I’m absolutely OK with leaving the sweet recipe development to the pros, and following their lead. I’ve tried nearly 20 recipes from Martha Stewart’s Cookies book, and most of them have turned out amazing. This is a solid resource for any type of cookie recipe you might need. Here are a few of my favorites:
Iced Hermits – These tasted like gingerbread, but better. The bar cookie is chewy and spicy (thanks to cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper (I know, black pepper in a cookie!)), and it’s topped with a sweet brown sugar icing and crunchy candied ginger. These took a little bit of work to make, but one cool thing about them is that they get BETTER the longer they sit, up to a week (the name “hermit” comes from the fact that the flavor improves if they’re tucked away for a few days before serving).
Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches – These are basically liked giant, soft Oreos. The filling tastes exactly like Oreo filling, but there’s no weird chemicals or additives. The chewy cookies have a nice cocoa powder flavor and the filling is richly vanilla. These also take a bit of work to make, but the goods news is that the dough can be made and refrigerated up to one week in advance, or frozen for a month.
Pumpkin Cookies with Brown-Butter Icing – I want to eat these all fall, every fall. The cookies are like light, fluffy, spicy, pumpkin-y clouds, and the icing is flecked with specks of brown butter. You get a lot of bang for your buck with these, as the recipe makes a ton of cookies. These are perfect with a cup of apple cider, or as part of a Thanksgiving dessert buffet.
- Martha Stewart’s Cookies: Iced Hermits, Cream-Filled Chocolate Sandwiches, Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing, Chocolate-Ginger Brownies, Pecan Tassies, Gingersnap-Raspberry Sandwiches
- Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Creme Brulee
- Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes: Chocolate-Salted Caramel Cupcakes, Stout Cupcakes, Triple-Citrus Cupcakes, Blueberries and Cream Cupcakes, Streusel Cupcakes, Raspberry Marble Cheesecakes, Chocolate-Mint Cupcakes, Mocha Cupcakes, Strawberry Cupcakes, Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes, Mint-Filled Brownie Cupcakes
- Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts: Coffee Cream Pie, Chocolate Pear Tart, Strawberry Icebox Pie
- Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen: Sweet Corn & Wild Mushroom Soup
- Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi: Asparagus Mimosa, Very Full Tart
- Tyler’s Ultimate: Chocolate Banana Bread