Wowsers! We can’t really think of anything else to say about these stunning stained glass window cookies, except that they’re far easier to make than you may expect thanks to colorful hard candy such as Jolly Ranchers.

david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

Tester Kara V. loved that “the dough came together very easily and was such a delight to roll out.” Tester Kelley B. is calling this her “go-to cookie recipe.”

Notes on Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter–Use room-temperature butter for these cookies. If substituting salted butter, don’t add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the dough.
  • Colored sugar or candy–You can use any type of clear hard candies, including Jolly Ranchers, Lifesavers, or lollipops. Keep your colors separate to avoid muddled colors, which won’t be pretty.

How to Make This Recipe

  1. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine into a smooth dough.
  2. Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  4. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thick. Use larger cookie cutters to create shapes, and smaller cutters to create the windows inside each cookie. Re-roll and cut scraps until all the dough is used, placing the cookies on the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Place the candies or sugar in resealable bags. Finely crush the candies. Using one color per cookie, sprinkle the crushed candy in the center of each cookie.
  6. Bake the cookies. Cook until the edges just begin to turn golden. Cool completely before enjoying or storing.

Recipe FAQs

Can I make these with a different type of cookie dough?

Absolutely. Any type of sugar cookie will work here, including Christmas sugar cookies or Champagne glazed sugar cookies, or even mild gingerbread.

How can I make these for other holidays besides Christmas?

These cookies look like gorgeously intricate cut-glass windowpanes but they’re not just for Christmas. Get creative with the cut-out shapes. Think red hearts for Valentine’s Day, pastel flowers for spring, and emerald evergreens for the winter holidays.

How do I make these into ornaments?

To make the cookies into holiday ornaments, use a bamboo skewer or chopstick to poke a hole about 3/4 inch from the top of each cookie before baking. After the baked cookies have cooled, thread 10 inches of ribbon or baker’s twine through each hole and tie in a bow.

Helpful Tips

  • If you prefer softer cookies, reduce the baking time by 1 minute.
  • The cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week. If you live in a very humid environment, store them in the fridge to stop the candy from becoming sticky.
  • Unbaked cookie dough or baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container or resealable bag. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight before baking.
  • Be sure to chill your dough thoroughly so that your cookies hold their shape during baking.
  • For a perfectly smooth stained glass finish, use a pin to prick any air bubbles in the candy filling as soon as the cookies are removed from the oven.

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A scalloped round sugar cookie with a heart-shaped windowpane cutout hanging from a tree branch.
5 / 4 votes
These windowpane cookies give the illusion of being made of stained glass thanks to melted Jolly Ranchers. The appearance of cathedral windows only adds to their appropriateness at Christmas.
David Leite
CourseDessert
CuisineAmerican
Servings45 cookies
Calories58 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time40 minutes

Equipment

  • Two cookie cutters, one large and one small

Ingredients 

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 cup various sanding sugars, sorted by color, or clear hard candies, such as Jolly Ranchers

Instructions 

  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  • In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture until dough is smooth and firm.
  • Divide the dough in half and shape into two 1/2-inch-thick disks. Cover them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. (At this point the dough can be covered in plastic wrap, sealed in a resealable plastic bag, and frozen for up to 2 weeks.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut out shapes using the larger cookie cutter and then use the smaller cutter to remove “windows” from inside the shapes. Gather the scraps, reroll, and repeat with the cookie cutters. Arrange the cookies about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  • If using clear hard candies, seal them in resealable plastic bags (one color per bag). Crush the candies into very small pieces with a rolling pin, a heavy skillet, or a hammer.
  • Fill the cookie windows with just enough sanding sugar or crushed candy to cover the exposed surface. Use one color per cookie.
  • Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges start to turn golden, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time.
  • Place the sheets on wire racks to cool for a few minutes before gently transferring the cookies to the wire racks. Let the cookies cool completely.

Notes

  1. Holiday ornament variation–To make the cookies into holiday ornaments, use a bamboo skewer or chopstick to poke a hole about 3/4 inch from the top of each cookie before baking. After the baked cookies have cooled, thread 10 inches of ribbon or bakers’ twine through each hole and tie in a bow.
  2. Storage–You can store the cookies between layers of parchment or wax paper in an airtight container for up to 1 week. If you live in a very humid environment, store them in the fridge.
  3. Freezing–Unbaked cookie dough or finished cookies can be frozen in airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw dough in the fridge overnight before baking.
  4. Air bubbles–For a perfectly smooth stained glass finish, use a pin to prick any air bubbles in the candy filling as soon as the cookies are removed from the oven.
Sprinkles! Cookbook

Adapted From

Sprinkles!

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 cookieCalories: 58 kcalCarbohydrates: 9 gProtein: 1 gFat: 2 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 10 mgSodium: 15 mgPotassium: 12 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 6 gVitamin A: 69 IUCalcium: 4 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2013 Jackie Alpers. Photo © 2013 Jackie Alpers. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I love this window pane cookies recipe! The dough came together very easily and was such a delight to roll out.

I used crushed Jolly Rancher cherry candies. I unwrapped several of the candies, put them in a resealable bag, and used a meat tenderizer to crush the candy. I cut a corner out of the bag and was able to pour the crushed candy into my cookie. I used a light layer of candy, but enough to cover the entire center.

These tasted so good! I love the sweetness of the candy with the buttery crunch of the sugar cookie. These will be beautiful to make as Christmas cookies and I’m looking forward to it already!

I liked this sugar cookie dough. It was easily thrown together, requiring only 1 stick of butter instead of the usual 2 sticks. Can we say lower calories without foregoing flavor?

The dough behaves well when rolling it out. Make sure you have a decent amount of flour for the work surface. I’ve used another recipe from the famous red cookbook author since my mother said to use that one, but I will make this my go-to cookie recipe.

We like our cookies a bit softer, so we baked them for 7 minutes. Also, I would add 1/4 teaspoon almond or coconut extract to the mixture for another level of flavor.




About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve always meant to make these, but never have! Thanks for the reminder. And for the picture, which caught my eye because i make those paper stars. Time to make the *cookies*, now, Beth.