Stained Glass Window Cookies
Learn how to perfect the art of making Stained Glass Window Cookies with our recipe and video tutorial.
A very long time ago I used to be a Brownie. No, not the delicious gooey chocolate squares, but a junior Girl Guide. We used to make all sorts of crafts together, including stained glass window cookies for Christmas.
Stained Glass Window Cookies are sugar cookies that have a hole in the middle filled with crushed and melted candy. When the cookies bake, the centre gets all shiny and see-through just like a pane of stained glass.
Last time I made these stained glass biscuits I was about 10 years old and wearing navy blue culottes, a gold shirt and a sash with all my Brownie merit badges I’d earned so far. We were all enthusiastic about bashing the candy up into little pieces for the cookies. Despite our enthusiasm, the cookies looked a little “rustic” and haphazard when finished. We tried.
This year when I spotted some cute Christmas bauble cookie cutters, I knew I had to remake some stained glass cookies using my much-improved adult cooking skills. The Christmas Bauble cookie cutter set I found from Davis and Waddell includes a set of bauble cookie cutters in different sizes, red ribbon, and a tool for making holes in the cookies for the ribbon. Mine came from my local cake decorator store, but I found the exact same ones online for you at Amazon:
I already had a reliable sugar cookie dough recipe that’s easy to work with and not crumbly at all. I used it to make these Unicorn Cookies. This sugar cookie dough does not spread or warp when baking, which is great for intricately shaped cookies.
The secret to easy stained glass cookies is to pre-bake the cookies without the crushed candy inside just yet. The benefit of this technique is that you can guarantee your cookies are baked properly. If you do the cookies and the filling at the same time, you’ll either get burned melted candy in the middle while you wait for the cookies to bake fully, or you’ll pull the cookies out too early while they’re still pale and blonde to prevent the candy from burning.
Once you’ve pre-baked the cookies until they’re almost done you fill their middles with crushed candy and place them back in the oven for the three minutes it takes for the candy to melt! Perfect cookies every time.
These cookies are quite easy to make, but they do require time to make them neat and beautiful.
HOW TO MAKE STAINED GLASS WINDOW COOKIES
Click to watch how to make Stained Glass Window Cookies
STAINED GLASS WINDOW COOKIES
Makes: about 24 cookies* Difficulty: Easy but time-consuming
* Depends on how thick you roll your dough, and the size of your cookie cutters. I used a mix of five-, six- and seven-centimetre cutters and got 28 cookies. I also roll thin cookies about 3-4mm thick.
Cookie Cutters: larger for the cookie shape and smaller for the window shape inside
Edible Glitter (optional)
200g Unsalted Butter, softened to room temperature
200g Caster Sugar
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
400g Plain Flour
250g Boiled Sweets (candy) in bright colours
Make the Sugar Cookies
Add the softened butter and sugar to a medium bowl. Cream them together with an electric beater until the mixture is thick, pale, and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until fluffy and well combined.
Stir in the flour until the dough comes together. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead it into a ball. Split the dough into two halves, flatten each half to a disc and wrap them in plastic wrap. Let them rest and chill in the fridge for 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the boiled sweets. Sort them by colour, then place each colour group into a Ziploc bag. Use something heavy like a rolling pin or a meat hammer to crush the sweets into a powder. Store each colour in an airtight container (or cover in plastic wrap) until ready for use.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350F). Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
Cookie Assembly and Decoration
Remove the dough from the fridge. Tear off a small ball and knead it gently again so it’s easier to roll.
Place the ball of dough between two sheets of baking paper. Use the rolling pin to roll the dough about 3-4mm thick. Press the larger cookie cutter into the dough to make the cookie shape. Next, press the smaller cookie cutter into the middle of the cookie to make the hole for the crushed candy window. Remove the extra dough from around the cookie and from the middle cut-out. Carefully place the cookie onto the prepared baking tray.
Reroll the dough flat and repeat the steps for each cookie. Leave about 2mm between each cookie on the tray.
If you want to hang up your finished cookies with ribbon or thread, you’ll need to make another hole at the top. Use something pointy (e.g. chopstick, knitting needle) to poke a hole about 3mm wide in the top of each cookie.
Bake for 7-8 minutes approximately. At this stage, we want to bake the cookies almost all the way to the finish. They should be golden brown underneath and just start to colour on the edges. The baking time will depend on the size of the cookie cutter you used and the thickness you rolled the cookies.
Remove the tray of cookies from the oven. While still hot, carefully pour a little of the crushed sweets powder into the candy window you cut out earlier in the middle of each cookie. Fill to the top of the hole. Brush any spills off the surface of the cookie with a pastry brush. Repeat for the tray of cookies.
Place the cookies back into the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes. At this stage, we just want the crushed candy powder to melt completely and form the stained glass window effect.
Once the crushed sweets have melted, remove the tray of cookies from the oven. Allow them to cool completely on the tray before attempting to remove them. If you’d like, add a little sprinkle of edible glitter into the coloured window for a cute sparkle.
Thread some ribbon through the top hole, tie the ends together, and hang your pretty cookies up. Or just eat them straight away.
- Don’t skip the refrigeration step for the dough. It has to rest and chill to come together properly.
- Cover the crushed boiled sweets when not in use, as exposure to the air will make the powder clump together
- It’s really important to not spill any of the crushed sweets onto the cookie or it’ll melt and stain. Brush any spills away with a pastry brush.
- Make sure the crushed sweets get right to the edges and into the corner of the window cut-out, otherwise you’ll have gaps.
- I used bauble cookie cutters measuring 5cm, 6cm and 7cm in width and length. To make the small candy windows I used the round end of a small piping tip, a wide piping tip and a small star-shaped cookie cutter.