We tend to have our more elaborate Christmas celebrations on Christmas Eve. We go to church, gather with the extended family for dinner and conversation (and the traditional white elephant exchange), then open presents with the immediate family. Usually the festivities wrap up after 2:00 AM, so on Christmas Day we sleep in and relax.
Throughout all these festivities there are always plates of cookies set out for nibbling. We have the obligatory frosted sugar cookies, of course. But next to these cookies, are unassuming gingerbread cookies. Unassuming that is, until you hold them up to the light.
These beautiful cookies serve just as well as a decoration as food. But don’t let that fool you… the cookie is a delicious gingersnap, with hints of cinnamon, ginger, and allspice. The sweetness of the hard candy that forms the stained glass center provides a compelling contrast.
These cookies take a little bit of time, but are well-worth adding to your christmas repertoire.
As a bonus, the dough can double as the walls of a gingerbread house!
Stained Glass Cookies
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C light molasses (preferably sorghum molasses, but other light molasses will do)
2 tbsp water
3 1/4 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Jolly Ranchers in various colors
In a large mixer bowl cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute. Blend in molasses and water. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices; add to the butter mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next, you will need to break the jolly ranchers into pieces smaller than half size or the cutouts will overflow. We used a chisel and a small hammer. You will need to corral the pieces as they break off; my sister and I worked together and she formed a wall with her hands. Alternatively, work in a plastic bowl. A simpler option is to use crushed lifesavers or other colored hard candy, but I find that the Jolly Ranchers produce the best color and flavor.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven.
Roll out dough 1/8” thick or slightly thinner. Cut out cookies using large cutters. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets and, with a small cookie cutter, cut out and remove designs from the center of each cookie. Place Jolly Rancher pieces in the small holes. We also bake the cutouts–they make wonderful little snacks!
Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are firm and the candy is melted. Slide the parchment off the cookie sheet. When the cookies are completely cool, gently remove the cookies and store in tins.