I love Martha Stewart. I know I’m not alone in that, and I know it’s no surprise given the title of this blog, but I just thought I’d put it out there. This fall Andrew and I spent a few days in the Bay Area to celebrate his having earned his PhD. Our innkeeper in Yountville was a laid-back Phil-Hartman lookalike in Ugg boots who we caught on his way to yoga class. For some reason he started chatting with us about Martha Stewart, saying that he didn’t know why people give her such a hard time. “She’s just a lady!” he insisted more than once, “She’s just a lady, with feelings and problems like everyone else.” Although I grant her her feelings, I don’t really agree with his position that Martha is just a regular gal. Regular gals don’t start multimedia empires; that takes extraordinary drive and a fair amount of talent, as far as I’m concerned.
Martha-love is not universal, of course. Last year I was explaining to my mother-in-law over lunch how disappointed I’d been when I did not land a job working on books at MSLO. (The job went to an internal candidate, which I had to respect, since I was at that time resentfully moldering at a company that literally never promoted editors from within. Ahem.) It was all she could do to choke back the words, “Why would anyone want to work for Martha Stewart?” Which is funny, because as a crafty, can-do kind of woman I suspect that my MIL would actually enjoy the do-it-yourself attitude Martha promotes if she could get past the concomitant air of perfectionism.
When I finally left that dead-end job for the precarious but delightful world of freelance work, it seemed obvious that turning the TV on during the day would not be a Good Thing. I didn’t even have to think about it, really; goodness knows the internet provides ample distraction. But then I discovered that Martha is on at 1pm here, perfect for my lunchtime break. Have you seen this show? It is hilarious, especially when something goes a little wrong or Martha catches and announces a spelling error on the teleprompter. As a huge fan of being Correct, I find Martha’s passion for Correctness endearing. I wasn’t sure at first about the combination of celebrities and crafts/cooking, but it’s amazing. My only suggestion for improvement is that Isaac Mizrahi should be on at least once a week.
Although I don’t watch every day, I did catch a fair amount of Cookie Week and so was super-excited when my mom sent me Martha’s new cookie book for my birthday. The first cookie I turned to was the Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookie. It sounded like a perfect compromise dessert for me and Andrew—chocolate for him, chewy sugar cookie texture for me—so I got out my mixing bowls right away.
Even though I overbaked them just a little, these cookies were realllly good and very satisfying, kind of like a cookie version of a great chocolate brownie. For some reason, though, they are crazy big—the recipe instructs you to make only 8 cookies, each of which contains 2 tablespoons of butter (!). When I make them again I think I’ll make them smaller and cut the baking time a little. They would make amazing ice cream sandwiches.
Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies
From Martha Stewart’s Cookies
Preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk together 1.5 cups flour, .5 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder [I used un-Dutched cocoa powder, and it was fine], 1 teaspoon baking powder, and .5 teaspoon salt.
Cream together 1 stick softened (room temperature) unsalted butter and 1.5 cups sugar. Beat until pale and fluffy. Mix in 1 stick melted and cooled unsalted butter (or .5 cup melted and cooled vegetable shortening…but I don’t use shortening). Add 1 large egg and 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract; mix until creamy. Gently, gradually mix in the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
Using a 2.5 inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Leave about 4 inches between cookies. Bake until edges are firm, 18-20 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.