stained glass sugar cookies

i don’t do a lot of baking over the holidays beyond a batch or two of cookies with the kids. when i saw this recipe, i knew i wanted to try out this technique this year.

squirrel stained glass cookie

it’s a basic sugar cookie recipe. you roll it out as usual, but when you’re cutting out the shapes, you cut out another smaller shape within it. fill that space with hard candy, and when it goes into the oven, the candy melts and creates a stained glass effect. it’s very pretty and i was happy with the results…

stained glass sugar cookies shaped like animals

the first two trays that went into the oven were a bit of a learning curve, and the recipe itself didn’t give many hints.  i’ve shared some of what i learned below, in the notes.

i really like the way the light goes through them though. here they are stacked on glass tiered plates.

stained glass animal sugar cookies

a few notes about making these cookies:

  • the recipe doesn’t specify how to break the hard candy. i used the butt end of my heavy-duty henckels kitchen knife. i think a safer alternative might be a small hammer. also, i found that breaking the candy into larger chunks that just fit the hole in the cookie melted better than smaller candy crumbs. the smaller pieces melted too quickly and burned before the cookies had baked.
  • the recipe says bake for 10 mins but check on the cookies at 7 minutes or so. if the candy has melted and is starting to bubble, use a bamboo skewer (or similar) to stir the bubbles out. this creates a more flat, glass-like candy. if the candy bubbles too much, it can splatter the surrounding cookie dough (which is fine and colourful, but maybe not what you intended).
  • let the candy cool completely before trying to remove it from the pan.
  • when it cools, the candy is hard (don’t bite into it).
  • i used clear candy (jolly ranchers, as specified in the recipe) in different colours. i wonder if this would work just as well with candy cane, it might be nice with different coloured swirls… if you try it, please let me know.
  • i used an apple corer to cut out the circle within the animal shapes. if you have concentrically smaller cookie cutters in similar shapes, i think that would look very cool.
  • try to make all the cookies the same thickness per batch, so your moose antlers don’t burn  :)

sugar cookies with hard candy center

the cookie cutters i used can be found here.

ikea cookie cutters shaped like animals

have you tried this before? do you have a favourite cookie recipe or technique to share?

this project was featured…

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36 Responses to stained glass sugar cookies

  1. wendopolis says:

    These look really fun! I have this same set of cookie cutters–I haven’t used them yet, maybe now I will….Thanks for the tips!

  2. Tara Benwell says:

    Beautiful cookies! Wish I could make some of these for a Christmas party this weekend. Does it give you any hints about where to find your cookie cutters after moving 3 times in the last 3 years? Go Pilsbury!

    • imadeitso says:

      thanks tara. i wish you a very pilsbury christmas! that’s happened here before too.. and i guarantee the best way to find something is to replace it. meet you at ikea? :)

  3. Alyssa says:

    I have had these before, and they’re so pretty! This isn’t our typical Christmas, so I’m behind on the holiday baking. Guess that means next week is cookie week. Sounds just terrible, doesn’t it. ;)

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  5. Estivalia says:

    a hedgehog cookie cutter, how cute is that?! :)
    I usually bake when I’m stressed (baking is kind of my “zen” activity). And since finals are around christmas… I’ve baked 2 batches of cookies and I’m itching to make cupcakes too, lol.

    My innovation for this year was marshmallow fondant. Messy, messy, innovation.

  6. Ana, those look really cute! I’ve never seen that anywhere before. And thank you for the notes too! How many batches did you go through before you perfected it?

    • imadeitso says:

      hi sofia, i’d never seen them before either.

      i only made one batch, but it ended up being 4 trays of cookies. the first one came out with the cookie baked but the candy burned, the second one i tried different sizes of candy and stirring out bubbles, but my moose’s antlers got a little overcooked. #3 (half got eaten) and #4 (frozen for christmas) came out perfect.

      i could see these hanging on the tree. on the up-high-out-of-reach branches :)

      • Thanks for all the notations – super helpful, but you know what I can see? I can see these never even making their way out of the kitchen! Hee! Hee! Can’t wait to show the kids this post…

  7. Jane says:

    I love these– very beautiful!

  8. e l l a says:

    Wow these are so cool and pretty!
    I’ve never heard of this idea – I never thought hard candy would melt like that to look like stained glass….
    very cool Ana ;)

  9. gosh i hate it when my moose antlers burn!

    mine would probably end up looking like the glass needed cleaning! :D

  10. Alyssa Bee says:

    Wow these are really neat! Really loving the cookie cutter shapes…will have to do further research to see if the US Ikea sells something similar!

  11. Ann says:

    Aww you are such a good mom. Ana. These are wonderful. If I was a kid I bet I would bite the antlers off first and it wouldn’t matter if they were a little brown.

  12. I have seen these before but never made them. Your cookies are very pretty.

  13. i have never seen this before and love the idea!

    also, the fact that you have cookie cutters shaped like hedgehogs and squirrels further confirms my belief that we would be friends IRL. i’m sorry if that sounds creepy.
    i already have a hedgehog cookie cutter but yours is so much cuter. may need to get these… even though i rarely make cut out cookies (but i did this year! post coming soon!)

  14. ~*~Patty says:

    magical and don’t you just have the most fun cookie cutters!

    I am guessing you are showing just a few of a possible collection LOL!

    Baking sugar cookies is very ambitious in my humble opinion…lots of steps…but oh the results you’ve achieved with the “stained glass” part = super !!!

    • imadeitso says:

      i don’t make them often for that reason. though having a good mixer helps.

      the stained glass is neat, i’d like to try getting two colours in there, but it didn’t turn out. they just mixed together and blended.

  15. Van says:

    These are so unique and pretty. Are they tasty with the candy in the middle?

  16. thursday says:

    Oh Ana! There are the sweetest cookies ever! I have a gnome shaped cookie cutter and I’m thinking this would be a wonderful way to give him a heart! Thanks for the inspiration Madame!

  17. Ashleigh says:

    Love those cookie cutters!!

  18. I like your stained-glass cookies, but I adore those cookie cutters! Never seen them. I’ll have to give Ikea a visit. Thanks for the tip.

  19. Yhaira says:

    I love your cookies. You mentioned you used Jolly Rancher. Did you just cut pieces that fit the hole and put them inside? Or, did you melt it before hand?
    Thank you!

    • imadeitso says:

      i chopped them into pieces first (i explained how, above)… cut them into fairly large chunks, place them in the hole, and bake the cookies normally. the candy melts while the cookies bake. but don’t make the candy chunks too small, because i found they’d melt too quickly and burn before the cookies were ready.

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