From the Archives: Martha Stewart's 1989 Spongeware Cookie Recipe

From the Archives: Martha Stewart's 1989 Spongeware Cookie Recipe


Martha Stewart’s Christmas from 1989 (the cover with young Martha posing with a giant pinecone) contains a recipe that turns our favorite American ceramics into delectable, colorful cookies. Made with royal icing applied with a natural sponge, these treats are as irresistible as the bowls, jugs and mugs that inspired them.


Martha’s Tips on Spatterware Cookies

I love the traditional American pottery called “spatterware,” and thought it would be fun to create cookies with the same look. Using Melissa’s gingerbread as the base, we first glazed each cookie with a thin coating of white royal icing and allowed them to dry.

We mixed up thin batches of bright-colored royal icing for the spatter, and, with a piece of natural sponge, applied one color to each glazed cookie.

For this old fashioned decoration, we found that domestic or rustic cookie shapes—like the pig, heart, pitcher, and rooster—worked best.

When decorating cookies or cakes it’s important to have the icing exactly the right consistency for each task. If raised dots or a lacy effect are desired, the icing must be quite stiff; to make lines or a coating, add a bit more egg white for a thinner icing. 



Melissa’s Gingerbread Cookies (makes 3-4 dozen)


1 cup dark molasses

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

4 teaspoons ground ginger

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ tablespoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

6 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Royal Icing:

1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1 large egg white

Food coloring

Place the molasses, sugar, ginger, and cinnamon in a double boiler over medium heat. When the sugar has melted, add the baking soda and stir. When the mixture bubbles up, remove from heat.

Place butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the hot molasses mixture and stir well. Let mixture cool to about 90 F., then add the egg. Gradually add the flour, 1 cup at a time, while beating. (This is best done in an electric mixer, but you can use a wooden spoon.)

Preheat the oven to 325 F. and line thick baking sheets with parchment paper.

Shape the dough into a neat rectangle, place on a well-floured board, and roll out until ¼ inch thick. Cut into shapes, place shapes on the baking sheets, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Let cool on racks.