Stained Glass Cookies


Yield 4 dozen cookies

Sugar Cookie Dough

  • ½ cup (3¼ oz) vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 4 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1½ cups (10½ oz) granulated sugar
  • 4 oz (half an 8-oz pkg) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cups (17 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt

Candy Centers

  • candy of choice, placed in freezer bag (do not close the bag) & smashed with a rolling pin (Suggestions: Jolly Ranchers & Life Savers)

Special Equipment

  • cookie or aspic cutter
  • parchment paper
  • rolling pin
  • freezer bags
  • paintbrushes


Make the Dough

  1. In a large bowl, cream the shortening, butter and the 1½ cups sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the softened cream cheese, vanilla and egg and beat well
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating until well-combined. Cover the dough and refrigerate it overnight, as it will be soft
  3. The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it into quarters. Keeping the remaining pieces refrigerated until they're needed, roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of ⅛"
  4.  Preheat the oven to 375°
  5. Use a 3½ to 4" round cookie cutter to cut the dough and immediately transfer the rounds to greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving a bit of space between them. Now use a smaller (1" or so) cutter in the shape of a heart, star, diamond or what-have-you to cut out the centers. If the dough isn't cold enough, refrigerate the sheets and cut out the centers when the dough is a bit easier to work with
  6. Refrigerate the scraps and re-roll them with the remaining portion of dough, cutting out cookies until all the dough is gone
  7.  Bake the cookies for 6-7 minutes, or until they're just firm but still somewhat pale and just lightly browned around the outer edges. Let them cool on the baking sheets

Make the Candy Centers

  1. Place candy of choice in a freezer bag and smash with a rolling pin
  2. Fill the cookie cutouts with the pieces, cleaning overflow with a dry paintbrush
  3. Bake just until candy/sugar melts - about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on them so that the sugar does not bubble. Remove and let cool
  4. If these cookies are for consumption, store them in a cool, dry place in a single layer in an airtight container. (Be sure not to store them near a heat source!)

Tips from Chef Susan Reid

  • This dough rolls out beautifully, can be rerolled without being tough, and tastes delicious

  • Have your Life Savers or Jolly Ranchers sorted by color and ready to go before you bake. Life Savers can be put in the cutouts before the cookies go into the oven; Jolly Ranchers should be put in halfway through the baking time. (They're cooked to a lower temperature, and melt more quickly than Life Savers do; if they're put in too soon, they'll boil and make bubbles in the windowpanes.) You can also bake the cookies until they're set (about 8 minutes), let them cool, and then fill with crushed candy. A baby food or demitasse spoon is the best tool to use for this. Having a clean craft paintbrush on hand is also a good idea, to brush any stray candy bits back into place