Foodie Friday: Martha Stewart Makes Cookies

I know we haven’t even celebrated Thanksgiving yet, but Hanukah is next week and it’s less than five weeks till Christmas! Tis’ the season to bake cookies! You’ll be bringing dozens of these sweet treats to work, sending them off with the kids for school parties and donating to church events. During the holiday season the cookie jar should always be full for visiting family. For many, making time to bake a batch of cookies with the kids and leaving them out for Santa is an essential Christmas tradition.

It’s time to get ready for the cookie-baking extravaganza. You’re going to need to stock up on supplies like cookie tins, spices, butter and flour. You’re going to need some foolproof recipes. You’re going to need festive packaging ideas for cookie gifts. Don’t be overwhelmed—there’s an app for that! Martha Stewart Makes Cookies promises to be an “indispensable baking resource,” the bible of cookie baking. Keep reading to find out why.

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Getting Started

Downloading the app takes a bit of time and it hogs a ton of space on the iPad. This is because (like all Martha Stewart apps) it’s so visually rich with tons of photos and video. The app intro features a short, playful animation with music that’s mildly amusing to adults (but the kids will probably love it). The home screen is a “cookie runway” organized by themed collections. I like how the app drops you straight into Martha Stewart’s world of gorgeous cookie photos with a sleek, clean, well-organized interface. It’s fun swiping left and right to browse the six cookie collections: Classic, Chocolate, Giftable, Holiday, Kids and Sugar & Spice.

Browse through all six cookie collections on the home screen, beginning with Classic Cookies.

Browse through all six cookie collections on the home screen, beginning with Classic Cookies.

This app taps into a powerful feeling of nostalgia with recipes that many hold dear, like Mexican Wedding Cakes, Oatmeal Cookies, Peanut Butter Cinnamon Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Thumbprints and the classic Chocolate Chip. Amongst the old favorites I found several modern recipes with unique flavors to try, like Smoky Bacon-Ginger Cookies and Matcha Tea Biscuits. It’s these surprises that make me a fan of Martha Stewart apps.

The Collections

The app includes 120 cookie recipes — more than enough to inspire a whole year of baking! Each collection features a good variety of ideas, from the simplest slice and bake to fancier piped Italian Polenta Cookies and fussy Macarons. No matter your baking ability, you’ll find a good selection of options. The term “cookie” is interpreted loosely here, including brownies, biscotti, bars, squares and meringues. The app really got my imagination fired up and I was exciting to get baking!

The term “cookie” is interpreted loosely and includes brownies, biscotti, bars, squares and meringues.

The term “cookie” is interpreted loosely and includes brownies, biscotti, bars, squares and meringues.

Being a chocolate lover, I was delighted by the 26+ chocolaty cookie recipes. The app also has plenty of creative baking techniques to keep advanced bakers inspired, like beautiful stamped Speculaas, Walnut and Brown-Sugar Rugelach twists, molded Walnut Cookies and a plethora of luxurious shortbread recipes. Giftable Cookies are meant to keep well in a tin, but this doesn’t mean their boring. I love the sophisticated Rose Water Cream Sandwiches, the festive Cranberry Coins and the savory Peppercorn Shortbread.

Giftable Cookies are meant to hold up in a tin, but these impressive treats are anything but boring.

Giftable Cookies are meant to hold up in a tin, but these impressive treats are anything but boring.

Martha hasn’t forgotten those on special diets, including Vegan Fruit and Nut Bars, as well as Gluten-Free Hazelnut Shortbread. I’m sure users would appreciate even more of these types of recipes added to the app, especially ones geared towards kids. Speaking of kids, the app has a ton of fun decorating projects, like Gingerbread Angels, Chocolate Moose Cookies, adorable Mice Cookies, Gingerbread People, Iced Sugar Cutouts and Children’s Hand Cookies.

The app has a ton of fun ideas for baking with your kids.

The app has a ton of fun ideas for baking with your kids.

I found holiday cookie recipes from all over the world: German Lebkuchen, Spiced Cardamom Cookies reminiscent of Scandinavia, French Mocha Madeleines and Italian biscotti. It was nice to see a few adult treats, like Hazelnut Financiers, Rum-Raisin Shortbread, and Eggnog Cheesecake Bars.

The Recipes

When I selected a recipe a stunningly beautiful photo of the plated cookies filled the screen. This is one of the things I love about Martha Stewart apps — they really do surprise and delight. Recipes include a short intro with a little history on the cookie or notes on any special technique or baking molds needed, which I appreciate. It’s easy to find the recipe stats like yield, active time spent cooking and total time necessary.

Select a cookie recipe and a beautiful photo of the plated cookies fills the screen.

Select a cookie recipe and a beautiful photo of the plated cookies fills the screen.

Recipe instructions are easy to read and it’s nice to have the option to increase font size. The unit converter tool allows you to manually convert ingredient measurements, but that’s quite tedious. It would be easier if users could just select Metric or the standard American measurements.

Cookie recipes are neatly organized and instructions are easy to follow.

Cookie recipes are neatly organized and instructions are easy to follow.

The app does make creating a shopping list simple and allows users to email recipes or share them on Facebook. It’s good to be able to keep recipes handy for referencing later in the Favorites section, and you can even add your own notes.

Additional Features

Martha Stewart Makes Cookies comes with a host of additional features, some useful and some that fall short. Craft savvy foodies will love the Packaging section, which gives eight creative ideas for packaging cookie gifts. Access templates via the Martha Stewart website. The Video section includes demos of some of the more challenging baking techniques, which are quite helpful.

The search wheel is a fun, engaging way to filter through all the cookie recipes.

The search wheel is a fun, engaging way to filter through all the cookie recipes.

The Search wheel is a fun, engaging way to filter through all the cookie recipes by flavor or technique. I like the Tools section because it’s not just a sales pitch to get you to buy Martha’s products at Macy’s. Each baking tool is photographed and has a helpful description of its purpose.

It’s nice to have a shopping list, but would be even better if ingredients could be displayed in total amounts. For example, you’ve got to add all the flour up and hope nothing gets missed.

It’s nice to have a shopping list, but would be even better if ingredients could be displayed in total amounts. For example, you’ve got to add all the flour up and hope nothing gets missed.

The Shopping List is almost perfect, except for the fact that if same ingredients are worded identically they won’t be grouped together on the list. It would also be more convenient if the app could tally ingredient totals. Finally, the timer only works if you’ve got the app open and running, which in my opinion makes it useless. This is pretty typical of Martha Stewart apps, which provide trustworthy recipes and an amazing visual experience, but don’t offer much useful functionality.

Conclusion

Martha Stewart Makes Cookies is an encyclopedia of cookie recipes. It’s absolutely gorgeous to look at, guaranteed to perk up the Christmas (or Hanukah) spirit in even the most jaded, stressed and over-worked among us. Don’t let the season pass you buy without taking a moment to have some fun in the kitchen with friends and family. Buy this app for yourself or gift it to a friend. A true classic, Martha Stewart Makes Cookies will never go out of style.


Summary

Martha Stewart Makes Cookies is a beautifully designed collection of 120 trustworthy cookie recipes to get you in the holiday spirit.

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