Thursday, December 1, 2011

Hard Candy Christmas - Stained Glass Cookies

It's time to begin the cookie and candy fest, for December has arrived!  This year, aside from Shortbread, I have decided to kick off the baking frenzy with an old family favorite from my childhood.  Stained-Glass cookies.  Mom use to make them every year and we just thought it was the coolest thing ever!

Granted, mom had to suffer through using aluminum foil back in those days, cause Silpat and parchment were not nearly as readily available as they are now.  This did foster some issues, as the melted candy would occasionally and quite stubbornly adhere to the foil and not relinquish it's grip.  Thus, tiny bits of foil would be consumed along with the cookies.  Which was really only a problem if you had a filling and bit down on said hunk of metal.  OUCH!  But we ate them anyway, cause they were just plain cool.

I have a confession...  This has been on my list of Holiday "To Do" list ever since I found this Snowflake cookie cutter set at the Cabazon Outlet mall near Palm Springs back in 2003.  With all the other baking and candy making that ensues at this time of year, they always end up on the proverbial back burner. 

This is really nothing more than a basic sugar cookie dough with cut outs and either Jolly Rancher or LifeSaver candies, broken into small bits, and used to fill the empty spaces so they can melt in the oven and create a colored pane of "Candy Glass".  (Though I have a family recipe for cinnamon glass that I will hopefully have time to share this year as well) Totally easy to do, but a little time consuming, which is why they never get made. 

Stained Glass Snowflakes

170g (12 TB) (3/4 cup) unsalted Butter
150g (5.2 oz) (3/4 cup) Granulated Sugar
1 large Egg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
312g (11.1 oz) (2 1/2 cups) AP Flour
3/4 tsp Kosher Salt
pinch of Mace
Assorted Hard Candies (I like Lifesavers, but Jolly Ranchers work too)

Standard procedure.....
Beat Butter with Granulated Sugar until light and fluffy.

Add Egg and continue beating until emulsified.

Add Vanilla and beat again.

Combine Flour, Kosher Salt and Mace in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Turn mixer to low speed and begin adding the Flour mixture in 1/2 cup increments.

Once all the flour has been mixed in and a soft dough forms...

Divide into 3 5-inch rounds, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Now the fun part!  :)  Smashin' candy with the flat side of a meat mallet!  I picked Lifesavers 5 flavors, but I also picked up a few of the newer "Tropical" flavors... They will be a little more opalescent instead of translucent

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grab 1 piece of dough from the refrigerator and roll out to 1/8 inch thick on a well-floured surface.

Cut out your cookies with a large cutter of your choice. (I am using my medium snowflake)

Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, placing the cookies about 1 inch apart.

You can either cut out the centers with a second smaller cutter, use a knife to cut out designs. (My set came with small cutters to make the snowflakes more lacy)

Add the cut out bits to the scraps pile.
Place the baking sheet back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to completely chill the cookies down.
Gather the scraps together and re-wrap, placing them back in the refrigerator as well.

If you have a second prepared sheet, go ahead and grab one of the other two disks of dough and repeat the above process.... Chilling the baking sheet with the cookies on it and refrigerating the scraps. (you will combine all the scraps from all three original disks and all the cut out scraps for a final rolling)

Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator and place in the oven for 3 minutes, to start the cooking.

After 3 minutes, remove the sheet and place small amounts of broken candy into all the cut outs. (be careful not to over fill or it will run over the cookie surface when it melts)

Place the baking sheet back in the oven for an additional 8 minutes or until the cookies are golden on the edges and the candy has melted, but not bubbled. (if the candy begins to bubble it may actually burn)

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet on a rack. (about 10 minutes)
Gently transfer the cookies to another cooling rack and continue cutting, par-baking, filling, and final baking cookies.

When all the cookies are completed, store in an airtight container.(The glass will melt if the humidity is too high)

Share the magic with your children!


Note:  We attempted to use these as tree ornaments one year by punching a hole in the top for a string.  Alas, the humidity in Western Oregon is just a little too high and the candy panes began to melt and run over the space of about 1 week.  If you live in a dryer climate, they make lovely tree ornaments.


Bo said...

Those look awesome and thanks now I'm going to have that song stuck in my head.

Bob said...

Whut. Those are the kinds of things that almost look too good to eat. Almost.

Patti T. said...

Those have to be about the prettiest cookies I have ever seen! Love the cookie cutters. I have heard of these but have never made them.

Anonymous said...

Too cool! I remember making window pane cookies as a kid but don't recall a particular shape. I'm sure it wasn't snowflakes, or I'd still be making them. Definitely have to get a set of those small inside cutters too - or at least bend something. I have snowflake cutters but have only iced them, never done the cut outs, etc. Definitely going on my list. :)

Ummm ... my "to try" list, not my "naughty/nice" list. ;)

Christine said...

Lovely! I've seen stained glass window cookies done before, but never as intricately as this. :)