The easiest way to make Christmas cookies merry and bright: crushed candy. These beauties can be made with Jolly Ranchers, Life Savers or any other brightly colored hard candy. All you do is melt ’em in the middle of your cookie dough, and voila — you’ve got a gorgeous stained glass effect.
Stained Glass Sugar Cookies
Yield: about thirty-six 2½” cookies
Adapted from Real Simple
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 6 to 8 ounces assorted translucent hard candies, such as Life Savers
1. Mix the Dough
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add in the granulated sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 more minutes.
Reduce speed of the mixer to low and stir in the egg, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary using a rubber spatula. Stir until combined.
With the mixer still on low, mix in the flour in 2-3 increments, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Once it’s all been added, only mix until the dough comes together and there are no powdery traces of flour left. The dough may feel crumbly, but it should be easy to clump together.
2. Divide and Chill
Divide the dough into two halves, and flatten into two disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until quite firm, at least three hours or overnight.
3. Work the Dough
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Work with one disk of dough at a time to keep the dough from softening too much. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 1/8″ thickness. Using 2″ to 2½” cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and place on your parchment-lined sheets. Using smaller cutters, cut the centers from each cookie.
Pro Tip: If the dough is too firm to roll directly from the refrigerator, let it soften for a few minutes and then try again. It should become easier to roll after a few minutes at room temperature.
4. Add the Candy
Divide the candies by color, placing each grouping in a separate plastic bag. Press out any air, seal the bag and crush the candy using a kitchen mallet or another blunt object. Crush until it reaches an almost granulated-sugar-type consistency. A few crystals are OK, but the more powdery the candy, the more consistently it will melt.
Spoon about 1 teaspoon of crushed candy into the center of the cookie. You want to evenly cover the cutout portion with crushed candy so you can’t see the parchment below. If any candy-powder gets on the top of the cookies, dust it off.
Bake until just golden at the edges and set on top, 7 to 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring with a spatula to wire racks to cool completely.
Store the cookies, layered between sheets of waxed or parchment paper, for up to a week in an airtight container.