Cookies,Family Recipes,Holiday Recipes

Stained glass gingerbread by Anjuli

Posted on 12-01-08 · Tags: , , ,

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

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!

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread dough
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
2 eggs

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.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

Making the cookies
Metal cookie cutters of various sizes
A small rolling pin
Parchment paper
Cookie sheet
Small knife
Chopstick or other pointed utensil
Plastic bags
2 bags worth of sour balls, jolly ranchers, or other hard candy (that you’d want to eat)

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

Basic instruction
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.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

Candy technique
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.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

Gingerbread technique
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.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

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.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

A swirl made by using a piece of folded tinfoil as a guide.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

Drying on the rack.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies

Two-part cookie with star.

Stained glass gingerbread cookies


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  1. Julia wrote:

    These look lovely. Perfect for a holiday party. Thank you for all of the pictures; they are a great how-to!

    December 2nd, 2008 at 9:00 am
  2. Christina wrote:

    I have to say I LOVE these!!! We would make something similar as kids, but with sugar cookies. Always so pretty!!! For musical inspiration… Santa Baby and Baby It’s Cold Outside start me in the right direction. I have also recently become an admirer of Michael Buble` and even the Christina Aguilera’s Christmas CD. Normally I’m a fan of the originals, but goodness… they both have soul. Merry Christmas!!!!

    December 2nd, 2008 at 9:17 am
  3. crystal wrote:

    i love this idea! it’s fun and creative and looks simple enough for me to do. i tend to be a bit bake-retarded.

    December 2nd, 2008 at 10:00 am
  4. Tom wrote:

    Beautiful! I’ve seen these done before on TV, but after seeing your results…I’m trying it!

    December 2nd, 2008 at 10:47 am
  5. sara angel wrote:

    what a great idea! perfect for christmas family fun :) love it!

    December 2nd, 2008 at 12:18 pm
  6. sarah wrote:

    oh i LOVE how pretty these are, especially the heart shapes!

    December 2nd, 2008 at 1:12 pm
  7. kt wrote:

    as a kid we always made these with sugar cookie dough. gingerbread was never a big favorite with my family. we usually used lifesaver candies too. my favorite christmas cd ever is hansons snowed in. i know, i know, it sounds horrible, but honestly i know lots of people that cant stand hanson and just love their christmas album. another personal nontraditional favorite is the christmas song by the ravonettes.

    December 2nd, 2008 at 1:45 pm
  8. Hillary wrote:

    These are great! I’m going to add this to my list of cookies to attempt this weekend…

    December 2nd, 2008 at 4:55 pm
  9. Favorite blogs of the day | Echronicles wrote:

    [...] 3. Stained glass gingerbread cookies from A Smart Mouth [...]

    December 2nd, 2008 at 5:14 pm
  10. veggiebelly wrote:

    These look so beautiful, I wouldnt want to eat them! Thanks for sharing this technique, Ive booked marked it to try :)

    December 2nd, 2008 at 10:21 pm
  11. FamilyFirst wrote:

    These are simply & absolutely gorgeous! Lovely festive mood to the cookies!

    December 3rd, 2008 at 1:23 am
  12. Ana wrote:

    These cookies look really great! I think I’ll try that with jolly ranchers as windows for my gingerbread house. I was reading about gingerbread houses, and it said that the dough for the gingerbread needed there is firmer than that needed for cookies. Is that true? and which recipe (if there is a difference) do you use?

    December 3rd, 2008 at 8:45 pm
  13. Recipe Hit List: 30 Holiday Cookie Recipes » wrote:

    [...] Stained Glass Gingerbread: 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. Recipe found at A Smart Mouth. [...]

    December 4th, 2008 at 3:07 pm
  14. Anjuli wrote:

    Ana: The dough is the same, but for the house we usually roll it out to 1/4 inch. Does that answer your question?

    December 4th, 2008 at 9:19 pm
  15. Ana wrote:

    yes, thanks! also, Pandora has an excellent holiday selection- I enjoy listening to the Bing Crosby holiday station.

    December 4th, 2008 at 10:59 pm
  16. Agent Tiki wrote:

    OH those are beautiful! This is just what I needed to see! I’ve been planning to make a gingerbread house to take photos of and this would be perfect for stained glass windows.

    December 7th, 2008 at 11:18 pm
  17. P29.11 « Jane ajaveeb wrote:

    [...] külmkapis veel piparkoogitainast, mis ootas piparkookideks saamist. Kuna ma eile oli vaimustunud vitraazpiparkookidest siis saatsin veel õhtul isa ja G poodi, karamelle ostma, sest kodus oli ainult mu lemmikuid [...]

    November 29th, 2009 at 12:55 pm
  18. Esther wrote:

    Hi Anjuli ~
    This is an excellent idea that I’m going to be adapting for my AP Art History class — I’m taking the challenge to create a whole gothic rose window !

    What are the candies that you used with all those variety of colors??

    December 10th, 2010 at 3:32 am
  19. Anjuli wrote:

    Esther: Very cool. I did stained glass window for an art class once out of twizzler and licorice laces as the frame and melted hard candy for the inside – I had to assemble the whole thing in class so there was no time for gingerbread.

    We usually use old school candy, like the hard round balls you get at a CVS or gas station. You want it solid colored, super hard and somewhat opaque. Jolly ranchers work OK but they’re a bit light. Even breath mints work if you’re looking for some part to be solid white.

    I also did another post on this detailing how to make your own.

    Hope this helps!

    December 10th, 2010 at 12:19 pm
  20. Double Glazing Worcester wrote:

    Even gingerbread cookies have stained glass too! i love the way it looks and i’m sure i will love the way it tastes too!

    December 27th, 2010 at 9:49 am
  21. Pippa wrote:

    Perfect, exactly the information I was looking for…gotta go buy sweets now…

    December 18th, 2011 at 4:48 am

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