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Video: Martha Stewart’s cheerful Christmas cookies

  1. Closed captioning of: Martha Stewart’s cheerful Christmas cookies

    >>> this morning on "martha on today" christmas cookies for all to enjoy. if you need a present to please, why not give a homemade treat. martha stewart is here. martha, you have no idea, good morning, this is one of my most favorite martha stewart segments all year because your cookies are always so delicious. is there a secret?

    >> well, no, just a good recipe and nice decorating techniques.

    >> all right. we're going to start with my father's favorite and i think matt's favorite too, gingerbread. you're making bells for us.

    >> we are. once you make the bells, and this is a good recipe because it bakes nice and flat. if you get bubbles in them and ripples, it's not a pretty cookie. what you want is the final cookie to look like this.

    >> that's phenomenal. but painting the color on top of it is one thing, but to get that little squiggle --

    >> well, we've already outsigned the cookies. once you do the outline, that's called the dam. then you fill the dam with the flood. that's not a good flood.

    >> that was an initial --

    >> so you get it all filled in like this. and once it's nice and filled in, if the frosting is the right consistency, you just smooth it out like that.

    >> look at that, shaking the cookie, who knew.

    >> then you put a line across like this.

    >> okay.

    >> every half inch or so, right in the wet frosting. you'll practice and get it better.

    >> okay. thank you for your vote of confidence. there we go, like that.

    >> then take a toothpick -- you're putting it on a little heavy.

    >> that's how i do my mascara, a little heavy.

    >> then you just draw lightly through the surface and see what it does? you're making it perfectly.

    >> oh, how nice. here we go.

    >> it's that lovely top that gives that pretty, very professional look.

    >> you know what, i've got to tell you yours looks obviously much better than mine, but what a great little trick.

    >> so those are gingerbread bells and the recipe is really good and really simple.

    >> chocolate peppermint thumb prints. simple batter, right?

    >> simple batter. just flour, cocoa powder makes the chocolate, you press with your thumb or your forefinger or you can use the back of a melon baller if you have it.

    >> you've gotten some sugar in there?

    >> it's all rolled in sugar before you bake. then once they're baked like this, then you fill. and you can do all the filling.

    >> but you've done a half baking. so you bake them partially at first, then you get the little bump or the indentation and then you fill them. i read the note, are you kidding?

    >> so put that in. okay.

    >> just like that?

    >> yeah. bake for five minutes and then bake another five minutes.

    >> and when they come out, they look just like that.

    >> i love cinnamon.

    >> this is store bought puff pastry and you like cinnamon.

    >> yes.

    >> and you make these beautiful -- they're sort of like little clefs for music. now you roll it in cinnamon on one side. the more you put, you know, you just spread it around. you spread that side, i'll spread this side. this is the fun part. i love puffed pastry. i love everything that you make with pastry.

    >> it's easy because you get it from the store.

    >> so you roll it up one way, halfway tightly. and then you turn it over and roll it the other way. keep rolling until halfway.

    >> and then you bring it up.

    >> and then turn this over and roll the other side. it takes a little finessing. roll it the opposite way .

    >> and you've got it like that.

    >> yes. then you cut and chill it. chilling puffed pastry is very important. cut off the end that's not so pretty. then cut this into pieces like this and you'll see that's your little cookie. baked, they come out like this. squiggle chocolate over the top .

    >> yum.

    >> and the recipes are straightforward. these are like torts.

    >> hazelnut sandwich cookies.

    >> there's two cookies. the bottom and the top is cut out with a cookie kurt. so you can make one cookie there.

    >> is there a special technique other than cleanly press?

    >> push down and squiggle a little .

    >> see, that always happens.

    >> that's good, you want it to. if it doesn't lift up, you're in trouble. cut exactly next to it so you don't waste your dough.

    >> the closer the better. the closer to the edge too, really close. then you don't waste so much dough.

    >> it looks easy but it's difficult.

    >> that's the top cookie, that would be cookie. always use offset spatulas. they bend so you can lift them easier. this cookie, you cut it perfectly. using these sil pads, silicon baking, you don't have to grease and butter the pan.

    >> we bake them and then we add this jam?

    >> and then once it's baked, then you put either nutella, using your offset, or jam.

    >> just drop it right in there?

    >> no.

    >> oh, spread it.

    >> you've gotten almost everything wrong today, savannah.

    >> we'll be right back, everybody.

    >> merry christmas and happy cookie making.

TODAY recipes
updated 12/6/2011 2:02:14 PM ET 2011-12-06T19:02:14

Recipe: Gingerbread bells

Ingredients
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup˙(1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 6 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup pasteurized egg whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Desired food coloring
Preparation

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat brown sugar and butter on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and molasses and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between floured parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Stack dough in parchment on a baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. With a 3 ½ inch bell-shaped cutter, cut out dough (reroll scraps, if desired). Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake until cookies are firm and edges begin to brown, 14 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. In a large bowl, using mixer, beat confectioners' sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar on low until combined. With mixer on high, beat until icing is whipped and opaque, 4 minutes. Thin with water as needed to make a stiff but spreadable icing. Divide icing among bowls; tint with food coloring. Transfer icings to large separate zip-top bags and snip 1/8 -inch hole in one corner of each bag. Frost cookies in one color, then pipe horizontal lines in a different color; drag a toothpick up and down through lines. Let sit until icing is set, 2 hours. (Store in airtight containers, up to 1 week.)

Active time: 1 1/2 hours

Total time: 2 hours + cooling

Serving Size

Makes 3 dozen

Recipe: Chocolate-peppermint thumbprints

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup each butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat to combine. Place 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Roll dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in sugar to coat. Place balls, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 5 minutes. Remove sheets from oven; with the small end of a melon baller or the bottom of a small round measuring spoon, make an indentation in center of each cookie.

Bake until cookies are just set but still look moist, 4 minutes (do not overbake). Let cool on sheets on wire racks. In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate chips and ¼ cup butter in 10-second increments until melted; stir in peppermint extract. Let cool until thick enough to pipe, 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large zip-top bag; snip 1/4-inch hole in one corner. Pipe chocolate into cookie indentations. (Store in airtight containers, up to 1 week.)

Active time: 35 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes + cooling

Tips

For extra sparkle, roll the dough balls in sanding sugar instead of granulated before baking.

Serving Size

Makes 4 dozen

Recipe: Cinnamon-sugar palmiers

Ingredients
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle a work surface with ½ cup cinnamon-sugar and on it, roll out puff pastry into two 9-by-11-inch rectangles. Sprinkle each rectangle with 3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar and gently roll over dough to adhere. Working with 1 rectangle at a time and starting from a long edge, quickly but gently fold dough toward center 3 times in 1-inch increments. Gently flip over dough and repeat with other long edge (once baked, cookies will look like an S-shape). Wrap dough in plastic and freeze until very firm but not frozen, 20 minutes.

Cut dough crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip both sides of each slice in remaining cinnamon-sugar. In batches, place cookies, 2 inches apart, on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until deep golden on underside, 12 minutes. Carefully flip each cookie with a metal spatula and bake until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and let cool completely. With a fork, drizzle cookies with chocolate and let sit until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes. (Store in airtight containers, up to 1 day.)

Active time: 35 minutes

Total time: 1 3/4 hours + cooling

Serving Size

Makes 3 dozen

Recipe: Hazelnut sandwich cookies

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Confectioners sugar, for dusting
  • 3/4 cup desired filling (see below)
Preparation

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a food processor, pulse hazelnuts with ¼ cup flour mixture until very finely ground. Add remaining flour mixture and process to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolks and vanilla and pulse until dough just comes together. Form dough into 2 disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between floured parchment paper to 1/8-inch thickness. Stack dough in parchment on a baking sheet; refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes. With a lightly floured 2 ½ inch fluted round cutter, cut out dough. (If dough becomes too soft, refrigerate a few minutes; reroll scraps, if desired.) Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. With a 1-inch cutter, cut out dough in centers of half the cookies. Bake until cookies just begin to brown at edges, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. If desired, bake small cutouts separately, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Lightly sift confectioners' sugar over cutout tops. Spread about 2 teaspoons filling on bottoms of remaining cookies and sandwich with sugar-dusted tops. (Store in airtight containers, up to 1 week.)

Active time: 40 minutes

Total time: 1 1/2 hours + chilling

Serving Size

Makes 2 dozen

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