Stained Glass Cookies

“We can EAT these?” Andrew (age 5) asked incredulously.

“Yes, you can eat them,” I replied, “they’re cookies. You can also hang them from your tree.”

“What’s inside?” asked Matthew (7).

“Lifesavers. And Jolly Ranchers.”


It’s as if Santa himself had just poked his head through the fireplace. The boys, my young neighbors, dissected and demolished the ones they had each picked out to eat. It was all I could do to keep their hands off the remaining cookies. Oddly, they went straight for the hard candy center, and only after it was discussed (“What is this, watermelon? Must be a Jolly Rancher”) and devoured, did they move on to the cookie border.

This recipe is a classic, originally from Yankee Magazine. The cookies make beautiful Christmas ornaments!


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 30-40 hard candies (such as Life Savers), preferably in several flavors/colors


1 Preheat oven, prepare baking sheets: Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.

2 Beat butter, sugars, then add molasses, vanilla, then egg: Using an electric mixer, beat together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the molasses and vanilla extract. Add egg and beat on medium speed until light and smooth.

3 Whisk together dry ingredients, add to wet: In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a third at a time, mixing until the flour is just incorporated.

4 Chill the dough: Divide the dough in half and flatten into two disks. Wrap disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour and up to 2 days.

5 Crush candies: Remove any plastic wrapping on the hard candies. Sort the hard candies by color and place them into separate plastic bags. Crush the candies with a mallet or hammer.


6 Roll out dough: Place one of the dough disks between two large sheets of waxed paper and use a rolling pin to roll out to an even thickness of 1/4-inch.

7 Cut shapes with cookie cutters: Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into forms. Transfer the cookies to a prepared baking sheet, placing them about 1 inch apart from each other. Using a smaller cookie cutter of similar shape or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies. (You can use the centers for extra dough.)

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8 Sprinkle crushed candies into cookie centers: Sprinkle the crushed candy into the empty centers of the cookies, filling them to the edges. Try to keep the candy within the centers. Any candy specks that fall on the cookie will color the cookie.

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9 Poke hole if using for decorations: If you plan on using the cookies as decoration, to be hung as an ornament, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking.

10 Bake: Bake at 375°F for 9 to 10 minutes. The candy should be bubbly and the cookies just barely beginning to brown. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on wire racks to cool.

Allow cookies to cool on pans at least 10 minutes; otherwise, the candy centers may separate from the dough. When cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container.

String with ribbon if you want to hang as an ornament.

Many thanks to my friend Heidi in Carlisle, Mass, who pointed me to the recipe in Yankee Magazine.


Stained Glass Cookies

Main Ingredients