Talking “The Perfect Cookie” with Project Editor Sacha Madadian

This book editor discusses her favorites from our new cookie bible and explains how she earned the title of ATK Cookie Queen.

Published Sept. 19, 2017.

You already know how much books editor Sacha Madadian loves bread—but did you know she’s equally as fond of cookies? I recently caught up with Sacha—who worked as the project editor for our recent book The Perfect Cookie—to ask her about the publication process and her favorite cookies. Here’s what she had to say.

How did you decide on the table of contents? We’ve developed a lot of cookie recipes here in the test kitchen, so that must have been daunting.

It should've been daunting. But my colleagues have crowned me the ATK Cookie Queen, a title I'll bashfully accept, because I've had my hand in more than a few jars at ATK having worked specifically with cookies on both the magazine and books teams. I admit to having a photographic memory of all of our cookie recipes, old and new. So it wasn't too hard to choose the more than 250 best-of-the-best cookies in this book. It was important to cover a wide range of varieties so the book could be an authoritative source on the very best versions of iconic classics and also a place to find inspired treats folks haven't seen before.

What are your favorite recipes from the book? 

Usually this question makes me squirm and I choose way too many. For once, I have a firm favorite: our version of these small cookies from the Piedmont region of Italy called Baci di Dama (that means "Ladies' Kisses" in Italian). Two crisp but ultratender hazelnut cookies surround a chocolate filling. I love their cute shape and diminutive size. We made them accessible by replacing the traditional rice flour with all-purpose flour.

I've baked the brown sugary Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies with Pecans and Dried Cherries many times—they're chockablock with goodies but nice and chewy, and everyone loves them. I like to gift stacks of our spicy-crunchy Gingersnaps at the holidays. I eat tahini by the spoonful so I appreciate our chewy Tahini Cookies. And I enjoy working with caramel, so our Salted Caramels are fun to make. I love that there are no-bake candies in the book. (Ed's note: See the full list of recipes included in the book here.)

Where does this rank in terms of your favorite books you've worked on?

You're not supposed to rank your children, but it's high on the list. It's funny—despite preferring savory food to sweets, I love working on baking books because I'm fascinated by the science of baking and enjoy breaking it down for the home cook. Superficial, maybe, but the book's also absolutely stunning—cookies are undeniably photogenic, and Deputy Art Director Allison Boales created a beautiful, clear-to-navigate design, with great colors, that works really well with the content.

What kinds of discussions led to deciding to do the book in the first place?

Baking, with its ratios and exacting instructions, can be intimidating, so I think folks enjoy the confidence boost our recipes and teaching guides give them. Single-subject baking books allow us to go into great depth on a topic as well as publish lots of interesting recipe variations that wouldn't make it into a multi-use baking book. Everyone loves cookies, and they're often the gateway baked good for families of home cooks, so we thought it was about time we put all our knowledge into an ATK cookie book.

What sets this apart from other cookie cookbooks?

This book is packed with recipes for any occasion that are foolproof. But beyond that, cookie varieties are grouped by chapter and there are photographed tips and tricks in each, as well as a super informative introduction section.

My favorite feature is that there is a chart that shows the reader how subtle tweaks to nearly every ingredient and technique affect the taste and texture of your cookies, so you can understand how recipes are engineered. For example, say you're a chewy cookie person (I'm proudly in this camp), you'll learn that you'll want to use more egg yolks than whites in a recipe (and why) or that melting the butter is better than creaming softened butter, which can push the cookie into the cakey category. I find that stuff really interesting, and I hope our readers do too.

What’s the book’s most important takeaway for the home cook?

Cakes are so often thought of as a blank canvas for whimsical baking—and they are—but cookies, though small, can be, too. With some know-how on the fundamental ingredients of cookie baking and how they interact, becoming a cookie master who can make anything from the chewiest brown sugar cookie to the flakiest multilayered palmier is easy and fun. And it can win you a lot of friends.

The Perfect Cookie

There are tips and tricks throughout, and insight on everything from what makes a cookie crunchy vs. chewy, to equipment and ingredients that set you up for success, and a troubleshooting guide that keeps you in control of every batch. The result? The perfect cookie, every time.  
Buy the Book

What are your all-time favorite ATK cookie recipes? Let us know in the comments! For more recipes to make now, go here. And for more information on The Perfect Cookie, go here

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