Stained Glass Cookies: The colors of Spring shine through

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I have to admit that when it comes to holiday candy, I’m a “day after” kind of gal. I shop for my Valentine’s chocolates on Feb. 15, I shop for my Halloween fun-sized goodies after November 1st, etc. etc. etc.  However, there is one exception…

Easter candy. I love Easter candy and will start buying jelly beans and gumdrops as soon as they start appearing on shelves. I truly believe that chocolate bunnies are meant to be scoops for peanut butter and that a Reese’s peanut butter egg is the best shape ever for a peanut butter cup. (It just tastes better that a round one, I swear).

Another perennial favorite are Jolly Rancher candies. Each one is like a little jewel, crystal clear sparklingly colorful, and scrumptiously flavorful. A bowlful on the table looks like you’ve captured a rainbow.

Luckily, there is a great technique that allows me (and YOU) to combine luminous candy and baking into some of the lovely cookies you’ve ever seen.

You’ll need a batch of your favorite roll-out cookie dough, a bag of colorful hard candies (Jolly Rancher and Life Savers are test kitchen favorites), and an array of cookie cutters. With the range of cutters we have, your imagination will be running wild in no time.

Let’s get started making these stained glass cookies.

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Roll your cookie dough out to 1/4″ thickness. You want the cookies a little on the thicker side to give the candy a deep “well” to sit it.

Cut out shapes and designs, being sure to leave plenty of cookie between cuts for structure.

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If you are using multiple colors of candy, a mini food processor can be a real time-saver. Start with your lightest color of candy and progress to the darker colors. You won’t need to wash the chopper between batches either, which is a huge bonus in my book.

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Grind or break the candy until you have a good amount of chunks, but also some finer pieces. You don’t want to blend the whole mixture to powder, that’s actually a bit too fine. Shoot for pieces the size of mini chocolate chips.

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To make your “palette” , pour your crushed candy out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or tray. Gather several small measuring spoons or baby spoons. I’m partial to 1/8 and 1/4 teaspoons.

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Use the small spoons to fill the cut-outs with crushed candy. You’ll want the candy slightly mounded in the wells, but not so much that it spills over onto the cookie.

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The top well of this cookie is filled just right. The bottom, not so much. You can see how the candy has spilled over already, which will bake onto the outside of the cookie. Not a ruination by any means, but try to avoid overfilling.

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These cookies are beautiful already and they haven’t even been baked yet!

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One of my favorite things about making these cookies is when the colors begin to get blended together. Try scooping from the mixed sections, you can get some amazing swirls and stripes in your “glass”.

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Bake the cookies in a 350°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. If your cookies are larger, baking time may be longer. I do recommend sticking to the smaller cookies for this technique so that your candy does not burn before your cookies are done.

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the parchment. The candy needs a chance to set and firm up again, so don’t move them too soon.

Once they are cool and firm you can peel them up and serve them, or use them to decorate your home and kitchen. These dragonflies had holes added before baking, and would look enchanting hanging in a bright window.

Enjoy trying this technique as spring approaches and the outside world begins to blossom with color. And if you are still buried in snow, well you’ll just have to make your own rainbows!

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Dottie

    WOW! I was just wondering what I can bring to my sister in law’s that would be fun & different. Thank you !!!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      You’ll be a total Rock Star with these Dottie. Have a lovely day with your family! ~ MJ

  2. KayceMcCarty

    Wow! I have not thought of these cookies in many years. I remember making them with my mother back in the late 1960′s! They were Christmas cookies – we used snowflake cookie cutters and Life Savers. This time, thinking it will be Jolly Ranchers and assorted Spring cookie cutters. As always, thanks to KAF for bringing us the greatest ideas for fun (and tasty) baking!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      You are so right Kayce, these are perfect at Christmas time too. But the bright spring sunshine brings out the joy too. Have fun! ~ MJ

  3. Laura Reynolds

    I’ve used this technique to make windows for churches made of gingerbread for years. I hand-cut cookies and attach them to the inside wall, then frame the exterior with gingerbread “stones.” I used to put little mini-lights inside each church for a gift that charmed kids — heat vented through holes in the roof and were camouflaged by the steeple. Today’s LED lights burn so cool that you could leave them on for hours without fear of melting windows.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      This is something I’ve wanted to try for years Laura. I’ve got to put it on my calendar! ~ MJ

  4. Barbara Hayden

    Aunt Florence made the most wonder cookies and was so generous with recipes! My favorite is still the lumberjack!!! ‘Seem to need molasses in the spring.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Lumberjack cookies? Those sound like fun. I’ve heard a teaspoon of molasses in a glass of warm water is a good way to start your day. I do happen to have 1/2 gallon in my cupboard, maybe I’ll give it a try. Happy baking Barbara! ~ MJ

  5. Margi Houk

    I have fond memories of making stained glass cookies with my mom back in the ’50s/’60s, minus the convenience of a food processor/chopper! :) Many Christmas ornaments, package decor and TREATS to EAT were made over the years! “Thanks for the memories!”

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      Thanks for sharing Margi. I’ve done the hammer route with the candy, it can definitely relieve a lot of stress, right? :) ~ MJ

  6. Mary

    I am quite creative when it comes to yeast doughs, not so with cookies. In my day, store bought candy was a rare treat. We were careful to make our one piece of candy last as long as we could. (We had to split a piece of gum three ways.) Once a year my great-aunt made anise hard candy and caramels. Each wrapped in perfect sized wax paper. We got only one piece of each, on a Saturday evening. I was allowed to make suckers only two or three times a year. Sugar was strictly for my father’s coffee. As you can tell, I am not of the younger generation. I live in a senior citizen’s apartment building. I am so glad you shared the candy-cookies; plus how to make them.. I have a fondness for baking and sharing, and so I think the tenants here will enjoy a “new” and exciting treat.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      HI Mary,
      Oh, I still remember having to make candy last. Halloween and Easter were the two times a year that it was plentiful. Other than that, it was a special treat, as was ice cream. I hope your friends and neighbors enjoy! ~ MJ

  7. Heather

    I’m curious what these are like when you eat them; is the “stained glass” part really hard (like the Jolly Rancher was to begin with)?

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      The candy does get crunchy again, but because it is so thin now, it’s not hard to bite through and chew. ~ MJ

  8. Anne Anson

    I have made these in the past. your chopping suggestions are really useful.. NOw I wonder.. just saing.. IF I wanted to make a really large cookie.. is there any dough you are aware of ( or could dream up) that would be strong (at the size of a sheet of paper.. enough) to support some of these little openings??

    I am a stained glass maker, and have been wishing to make a stained glass book.. or at least cover..
    Wishing this for years…
    Also reading this made me think of jelly beans. would I need to add them half way through or is this just …. silly? :-)

    A reply would be great.

    thanks, Anne

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sounds like a pretty cool idea, Anne. You may use this dough (Holiday Butter Cookies) and be sure to roll it out thicker to help with the structure and stability. I would not use jelly beans. Jolly Ranchers are best and you may add half way through the bake but it is not necessary to. You may add in the beginning which would cut down the steps! Good luck! Pictures please! Elisabeth@KAF

  9. May

    This is such a lovely cookie, but do you think it would work if I substituted colored sparkling sugar for the candy?

    Thanks for all the fantastic recipes!

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      It’s certainly worth a try, May; I’d use a finer grind rather than the coarse crystals. The bigger crystals have a little bit of oil on them and might not melt as evenly. Susan

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