CANDY. Yes it’s totally bad for you, addictive even, spikes your blood sugar, gives you diabetes, and has little other nutritional value. It makes for excellent stained glass when melted inside gingerbread cookies. My mother figured out this trick when we were kids, and we’ve been making them every year since.
Decorating the Christmas tree was a sweet task growing up. Christmas trees should be edible, minus the needles and trunk. We lade its branches with candy canes, cookies, and any other sugary treat that tastes good after being left out for 3 weeks at room temperature.
While we don the Susie Homemaker aprons for our slightly noxious baking spree, we realize, well, it’s fun to do this once a year. Gingerbread is one of my favorites. It’s spicy and used to make miniature edible Gretel houses. What’s not to like? Of course once you add on the finishing string of lights on your tree, these stained glass numbers really shine. This is about as close as I get to a church on Christmas. Ahem.
What’s your favorite Christmas music?
In the past I have avoided holiday music whenever possible. This year we’re making a point of playing it at home. I’m looking for input on favorite Christmas classics. What gets you in the mood?
Also check out the 2009 gingerbread stained glass with homemade peppermint candy!
Makes roughly 40 cookies
2 cups whole wheat
2 cups organic unbleached white flour
1/2 Amaranth (you can substitute more white flour)
1 medium orange, rind removed with a vegetable peeler and ground into specs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup ghee (you can substitute more butter)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup organic cane sugar
5/8 cup molasses
5/8 cup maple syrup
Sift the flours into a large bowl. Mix in the baking soda, salt, and spices with a fork. In a medium bowl, blend together the sugar, butter, molasses, egg and maple syrup with an electric hand mixer. Add in in the orange rind. Add dry ingredients all at once and mix until consistent. Refrigerate in a covered bowl for at least an hour.
Making the cookies
Metal cookie cutters of various sizes
A small rolling pin
Chopstick or other pointed utensil
2 bags worth of sour balls, jolly ranchers, or other hard candy (that you’d want to eat)
Set the oven rack to the lower 1/3 and turn the oven onto 350.
Separate the candy by color, crush it, and place into small bowls. Flour the dough you need and roll it out to 1/8” on parchment within the cookie sheet. Use cutters that fit inside one another to punch a hole through your larger cookie that can be filled with candy. Poke a hole for hanging. Cook the gingerbread halfway (about 5-6 minutes), remove, recut, and cook again until 2 minutes remaining. Remove and add in the sugar, covering the holes 2/3. Place back in the oven and cook to completion, removing to cool.
Separate the colors and put them in plastic bags. Fold the bags over and crush with a hammer (softly, no muscle needed). Place each in a bowl. Make sure not to mix different brands of candy as they may have different melting points. If you want more control over your colors, make the pieces finer.
Arrange some flour, cutters, rolling pin, parchment, cookie sheet, and a small knife. Cut a piece of parchment and lay it into the cookie sheet. Take out only as much dough as you need. Leave the rest in the fridge to keep as cold as possible. Dust the dough and rolling pin with flour, and lay the dough on the parchment inside the cookie sheet.
Begin rolling out the dough from the inside out, and turning the parchment on the cookie sheet. Continue to roll the dough until it is an even 1/8 inch thick. Cut out the shapes you need and remove the remainder of the dough with the knife. Using the chopstick, poke a hole in the cookie at the top (large enough for a ribbon to go through later).
Ball up the excess, wrap it in parchment paper, and place back in the fridge (but reserve separately from the “new” dough).
Place the cookie sheet in the oven when it’s half done (after 5-6 minutes). Remove. Place the cookie cutters back on the cookie and remove the excess with a knife (it will have expanded). Be careful not to crack the cookie. Re-poke the hole. Put the sheet back in for 2 minutes. Remove and fill the holes with the candy 2/3 the way up. Place back in the oven for 2-4 minutes. The first time you do it, watch for the sugar’s melting point. You want it to be even like glass but not bubble over.
Remove the cookies and let cool enough to handle. Turn over and peel away from the parchment. Set on a drying rack to cool completely. Refine your process and repeat.
Notes: Sour balls or other slightly opaque candy works best for stained glass because it is the most saturated. However, don’t buy anything you wouldn’t want to eat. That is, if you plan on eating them. More traditional candy usually works better.
It’s good to do a test run with these cookies by making one cookie the whole process through before doing an entire batch. Gingerbread at 1/8 inch usually cooks within 10 minutes. You want to place the candy in only a couple minutes before the gingerbread is done.
When assembling a batch, try to make sure your cookies (and sugar holes) are of relative size so they will cook evenly.
Ideas: Once you get the hang of it, you can do a bunch of fun things with these. You can layer the cookies so you have multiple layers of candy and cookie. You can use one color sugar or multiple, and swirl them together like stained glass. Sometimes simple is also best.
A swirl made by using a piece of folded tinfoil as a guide.
Drying on the rack.
Two-part cookie with star.