Decorating sugar cookies after they come out of the oven can be a fun holiday activity, but I appreciate a cookie that bakes up all beautiful and ready to serve. And though I believe there is no sight more pleasing than an unadorned chocolate chip or magic cookie bar, this latter portion of December demands a certain amount of flair, and stained glass cookies bring just that.
Though their look hinges on a transparent pane of colourful sucrose, there is no complicated sugar work involved. If you are capable of smashing hard candy with a blunt object, you can make these cookies. In fact, besides some hard candies, all you’ll need is your favourite sugar cookie dough recipe (mine comes in a tub), a big cookie cutter, and a smaller cookie cutter (the shapes of which are up to you). The smaller cutter is used to make a decorative hole inside the cookie made with the larger cutter, then that hole gets filled with brutalized candy. The candy melts while the cookie bakes, and the whole thing is very pretty.
In terms of colours, you can fill the cutouts with one or more. Different coloured candies melt harmoniously, creating a swirled—rather than muddied—stained glass effect.
The process is very easy, but there are a few details to keep in mind. First of all—and most importantly—make sure to place a sheet of parchment in between the cookies and the baking sheet, otherwise the sugar glass will stick and ruin your beautiful creation. Also, fill those cookies up! A mound of crushed candy will melt as the cookie dough rises, preventing over-the-top spillage. (Both the Christmas tree in the lower left and star in the lower right were underfilled, which is why the edges look a little sunken.) To make these stunners, you will need:
Hard candies of your choice
Sugar cookie dough, whatever recipe you like
1 large cookie cutter
1 (or more) smaller cookie cutters
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius. While the oven is heating, unwrap your candies and divide them by flavour, placing them in a sealable freezer bag. Take a blunt, heavy object, and smash them into small chunks. Set aside.
Once the oven is heated, roll your dough into a 6mm-thick sheet and cut out some cookies with your larger cookie cutter. Using a smaller cookie cutter, make a hole in the centre of the larger cookie. Transfer the cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet and fill the holes with candy. Bake 4-6 minutes, until the edges of the cookie are lightly browned and the candy is completely melted. Remove from the oven and let cool for a minute on the sheet before lifting the entire sheet of parchment out and placing it on the countertop to finish cooling. Repeat until you are out of cookie dough and/or candy.