It’s that time of year again for lugging out the decorations. Thankfully in this house anyways, most of these decorations are homemade and many of them edible. Last year we made homemade gingerbread stained glass cookies. This year we finally decided holiday or no holiday we did not want to be chomping through some perfectly delicious gingerbread and encounter an insidious “lemon” or “orange” flavor at its center. We are also not about sugar that causes you to first bounce around the walls and then five minutes later fall on your face. So we opted for some homemade candy to accompany our hearts, stars, and spaceship, errrr, penis ornaments that hang on the tree.
We used brown rice syrup in place of the corn syrup, which surprisingly improved both color and flavor – making the candy slightly more caramel-y and also enhancing the “Rouge Noël.” What’s more, when you’re making stained glass you get to pick up a whole red pool of hardened candy and smash it onto another hard surface until it shatters like an old mirror.
Then you pick up the delicious shards, put them inside two thick ziplocs, and smash them with a hammer until you have dust.
It’s a delightful process evocative of the season itself – lots of “Christmas red” and bouts of (ahem) frustration followed by moments of jubilation. From there you mold little hearts and stars and whatever other shapes you desire out of gingerbread, bake them halfway, recut them, bake them a moment more, then pour some candy in and bake a few minutes more until the candy melts but before it gets all blood boil-y.
The resulting cookie is delicious of course, and wonderfully glowing red in the center. They’re divine.
For instructions on how to make and bake the cookies, go to last year’s gingerbread stained glass post.
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red coloring (we used Wilton’s Christmas Red, which was much more saturated than store the bought ones we’ve used in the past)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (or flavor of your choosing)
Get ready. Make sure you are all setup with your food coloring and extract. Grease a cookie sheet with butter or ghee. Get a rubber spatula and wire rack ready. Set aside.
Cook candy. Put the ingredients (except the extract and coloring) in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan. Place a candy thermometer so it’s touching the bottom and close to the center of the pan (you can place it at a tilt). Turn on to medium and allow sugar to melt stirring periodically with a metal spoon, until it comes to a boil. Once there, allow it to boil without stirring until the candy thermometer reads 320 degrees (right below hard crack). It’s very important not to stir. This will take about 15-20 minutes. The candy will start to smoke slightly, but don’t be alarmed.
Tip: Many recipes say to put leave it on high and allow it to come to 340 degrees, but we find this unnecessary and more stressful.
Color, flavor, and cool. Once it comes to 320, remove from heat and quickly stir in the coloring and extract. Quickly spread out on the greased cookie sheet as thinly as you can. Place the cookie sheet on the wire rack and allow to cool completely.
Smash candy After it’s cool, pick up and and sort of smash against a hard surface to shatter the candy on the cookie sheet. Repeat as desirable. Take a good cup of the shards and double bag in ziploc. Smash with a hammer on a firm surface that won’t get dented until it’s mostly dust and small pieces.