I own a beautiful, buttercup-yellow Kitchen Aid mixer, and its main function has been to collect dust in the cupboard. Every now and then, my husband implores me to get rid of the hulking thing, but I stand by my convictions: "Mixers are expensive! Plus, we may use it someday." Well, that someday came earlier this week, when Marley Spoon sent me the new Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookie Box for a test run. (It's a Christmas miracle!)
Available through January 3, the limited-edition box comes stocked with four smaller boxes, each of which holds ingredients for holiday treats. And, not just any holiday treats.
Who else but Martha Stewart could concoct the perfect recipes for Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies, Noel Nut Balls, Double-Chocolate Peppermint Brownies, and Brown Butter Cardamom Shortbread Cookies?
Determined to morph from a novice baker who'd never heard the term "paddle attachment" into, well, Martha Stewart, I set to work on the Chewy-Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies. My first step: pull out that mixer. Then, I had to rustle up three rimmed baking sheets, along with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. Hmm ... I seemed to be missing some of those tools. Told you I'm a novice.
Lesson number one: the Martha wannabe should have some baking equipment already at her disposal. So if you're low on tools — as I was — this is something to keep in mind. Other recipes in the box call for a pastry brush, wire racks, and a fine-mesh sieve, so we're not talking about anything too out of the ordinary here. It's not like you need a brulee torch. (Though wouldn't that be fun?)
If you're looking to expand your baking repertoire, this could be just the nudge you need to stock your cabinets with a few, inexpensive pieces of equipment. But if you're not in the market for, say, more rimmed baking sheets, just make do with what you have and cook two cookie batches at a time instead of three — it worked for me!
Now, onto the good stuff. The chocolate-ginger cookie kit came with pre-portioned ingredients such as candied ginger, bittersweet chocolate, a spiced-cocoa blend, and the basics, such as granulated sugar and all-purpose flour. I love this aspect of the box. If you don't regularly bake, who needs a whole bag of sugar, let alone spiced-cocoa blend?
The set also comes with a set of gift bags and red-and-white baker's twine, should you wish to gift some sweets. And since each recipe serves at least eight people, you probably will want to spread a little sugar in the end.
The only thing I needed to supply was unsalted butter and coarse kosher salt, both of which I had handy. But if you don't, rest assured that none of the recipes call for any ingredients that you can't find at the corner store. In addition to butter and salt, you may need to pick up some eggs. Easy, right?
Armed with all my ingredients and tools, I began the process of churning out what would be the most festive treats my oven had ever seen. It's not like Martha to rush perfection, so note that this particular recipe has patience as an unlisted ingredient. On the plus side, the total recipe time of two-and-three-quarters hours will allow you to crank up The Nutcracker and sip on egg nog as you work. Honestly, that just makes the experience so much more holiday.
And, there are some minor-but-important tasks — think finely chopping the candied ginger and dissolving baking soda into hot water — that could benefit from a few extra sets of hands. So, the Holiday Cookie Box could make for a pretty delicious family activity. (Bonus points if you can find a little elf to help wash the dishes and kitchen tools as you work: you'll use quite a few!)
But in the end, I was glad I didn't have to distribute the cookies among too many people. I was also glad I'd set aside the time to properly tackle the treats. The perfectly chewy, chocolate-y goods — with just a kiss of spicy ginger — were even more delicious than expected. And, now that I have parchment paper at my disposal, I may just try the peppermint brownies next. Look out Martha!
Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookie Box
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