These botanical cookies are equal parts gorgeous and delicious — the perfect excuse to linger in the kitchen and make something over-the-top. We’re delighted to share Martha Stewart’s own recipe for flower-embellished cookies from her 95th (!) cookbook out now, Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection. Yes, this recipe involves tweezers but if you’re a fan of Stewart you’ve come to expect that.
We’ve included the old-fashioned cookie recipe, which you could replace with any sugar or gluten-free recipe of your choice — what we’re really after here is this gorgeous style of decoration from the queen herself. (Make sure those pistachios are Sicilian!)
Makes about 16 cookies
FOR THE COOKIES
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
finely grated zest of 1 orange (about 1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp brandy
Lemon Glaze (recipe below)
To make the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, orange zest, and brandy until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture and mix on low until just combined. On a lightly floured surface, shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 45 minutes and up to overnight.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes using a 31/2‑inch fluted round. Use a 1-inch round cutter to cut out centers of cookies. Reroll scraps once. Transfer wreaths to parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until set and golden around edges, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cool completely.
Makes about ¾ cup
1 large egg white
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more if needed
1 to 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
In a large bowl, whisk together egg white, sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice until smooth. If necessary, add up to 1 teaspoon lemon juice to reach desired consistency. If glaze runs down edges of cookie, add more sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. If glaze is too thick, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time. (Use immediately, or store at room temperature, with plastic wrap pressed directly on surface, up to 2 days, or refrigerate up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before using.)
To decorate the cookies: Place lemon glaze in a shallow bowl. Working with one cookie at a time, dip cookie top side down in lemon glaze to coat surface, allowing excess glaze to drip back into bowl. Transfer glazed cookies to a wire rack or baking sheet. Working quickly before glaze sets, use tweezers to decorate cookies with toppings, if desired. Let stand at room temperature until completely dry, at least 2 hours. (Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to overnight.)
for the embellishments
candied ginger, finely chopped (recipe below)
candied citrus, finely chopped (recipe below)
pistachios (preferably Sicilian), finely chopped
sugared flowers, such as small pansies, rose petals, and violets (see recipe below)
Sugared Garnishes – mint leaves and small edible flowers, herb sprigs, and berries
This technique can be used for mint leaves and small edible flowers, herb sprigs, and berries. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 egg white and 1 tablespoon water. Holding the mint leaf or other garnish with tweezers, brush egg white onto surface to lightly coat both sides. Sprinkle superfine sugar over surface and transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to dry, about 8 hours. (Garnishes can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Candied Citrus – oranges, lemons, or grapefruits
With a sharp paring knife, slice the ends of oranges, lemons, or grapefruits. Following the curve of the fruit, cut away the outermost peel, leaving most of the white pith on the fruit. Slice the peel lengthwise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. In a medium pot of boiling water, cook peel until tender, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer peel to a wire rack set over a baking sheet; spread in a single layer to dry slightly, about 15 minutes. In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add peel and boil until it turns translucent and syrup thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. With slotted spoon, transfer peel to wire rack, separating the pieces as needed. Let peel dry 1 hour. Toss with 1/2 cup sugar to coat.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel 2 pieces (6 inches each, about 8 ounces) fresh ginger. With a sharp paring knife, slice ginger crosswise very thinly (about 1/8 inch thick). Add ginger slices to pan; simmer over medium-low heat until translucent and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer ginger to a wire rack set over a baking sheet lined with parchment; let drain. Reserve ginger syrup for another use (let cool; refrigerate in an airtight container up to 1 month). Pour 1/4 cup sugar into a small bowl; coat ginger slices, 1 or 2 at a time, in sugar. (Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 month.)