Stained Glass Cookies are a delicious, beautiful, and easy to make holiday cookie. Soft, buttery cookie dough, rolled out and cut into holiday shapes, then filled with melted candies so they look like stained glass.
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Besides looking beautiful on a holiday cookie platter, stained glass cookies are a great way to get your kids into the kitchen for some holiday baking. They make great holiday food gifts, either to eat, or to hang as ornaments on a Christmas tree!
Part of the magic of the Christmas season for me is enjoying it through the eyes of children. Their wide-eyed awe the first time they experience snow, or the way they giggle with glee when they see a Christmas tree all lit up. Their little hearts are filled with so much happiness, that it becomes contagious to everyone around them!
Creating stained glass cookies, and holiday baking in general, give me a similar heart full of happiness.
Making these delicious Christmas cookies couldn’t be any easier, which is why this is a great project to let kids help with. The most difficult part is finding patience to wait while the dough firms up in the refrigerator.
Start with a basic cut-out cookie recipe. You can make them with butter cookie dough, shortbread, gingerbread, or even plain sugar cookie dough. Make things even more convenient, using refrigerated sugar cookie dough if you want to!
You can use any cookie cutter shape that you’d like, but keep in mind that you’ll need to find a similar shape, in a smaller size, to create the stained glass portion. Since it’s easy to find various sizes of star shaped cookie cutters, that’s what I used.
After you have cut out the basic shape and removed the inner portion, chill the dough so that the shapes don’t spread during baking. That’s a great time to crush up the Jolly Rancher candies to place into the center of the stained glass cookies. Kids can definitely help with this!
To create the “glass” for the stained glass cookies:
Place 6-8 pieces of a single color of candy into a gallon sized plastic bag. Make sure that the bag is completely sealed, then cover it with a dish cloth and use a rolling pin or meat mallet to hit the bag, crushing the candies. Don’t crush them too finely – you want tiny shards of candy, not a fine powder. Repeat this step for each color you want to use.
Remove the cut-out cookies from the refrigerator and let your oven preheat while you place the crushed candies into the centers of your cut-outs. Use a toothpick or small knife to push the candy into any tight corners.
After you remove the cookies from the oven, keep little fingers far away from them, because the center of the stained glass cookies will be very hot for a few minutes.
I hope that you and the kids in your life enjoy making these stained glass cookies!
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Stained Glass Cookies
- 3 cups (13 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup (7.5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 Tablespoon milk (I used almond milk)
- 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract (almond or lemon extract work, too)
- Powdered sugar, for rolling out the dough
- Assorted colored hard candies, such as Jolly Ranchers or Lifesavers
- Select two cookies cutters, making sure that one is small enough to fit inside of the other with at least 1/2 inch of cookie border around it.
- Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- Place butter and sugar into large bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Turn mixer to low speed and slowly add flour, mixing until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrapping each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or as long as overnight).
- Sprinkle surface where you will roll out your dough lightly with powdered sugar. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator.
- Sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough softens too much during rolling, place a cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill, or place the dough back into the refrigerator.
- Using the larger cookie cutter, cut dough into desired shape. Use smaller cookie cutter to cut out the middle of each cookie. Transfer cookies to prepared cookie sheets, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. Place cookie sheet into refrigerator for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the candy to become stained glass centers.
- Heat your oven to 350 F.
- Unwrap and separate the hard candies into various colors, placing each color into a small zip top bag. Seal each bag tightly. Place a light dish towel over one bag.
- Using a rolling pin or something similar, carefully smash the candies into small pieces. Don't smash too hard, as you want "shards" of candy, not a fine powder.
- Repeat the above steps with the other refrigerated ball of cookie dough.
- Fill the center of each cookie with ½ to 1 teaspoon of crushed candy. Use a toothpick or tip of a small knife to work the candy into the corners.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges and candy is hot and bubbling, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.
- The candy will be bubbling when it comes out of the oven, this is normal and it will spread out and the bubbles will disappear when they cool down.
- Let baked cookies stay on baking sheet for 3 minutes after removal from oven and then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
- Adapted from Alton Brown's Sugar Cookie Recipe
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