I’ve heard or read somewhere that my country celebrates Christmas the longest here in Asia. As soon as the -ber months come around, the malls and restaurants begin blasting on the Christmas music. I’m sure it has more to do with how they want to put the customers in a spending mood, but nonetheless it makes everyone feel festive. The local celebration of Christmas begins during September and can last until February the next year. I don’t mind this at all.
I love Christmas. I love it even more than my birthday, because I love how Christmas is celebrated by the world as a whole and not just privately with friends and family. I love the sense of being part of a ‘world community’, singing the same old holiday songs about red-nosed reindeer and jolly old St. Nicholas. It brings the world together and gives us all a commonality; across race, gender, age, across language and cultural barriers. Christmas is just that kind of phenomenon.
To close out my Christmas Countdown, I have chosen the cookies I fell in love with the instant I saw them. You might think it odd, but something about these cookies gives me the quiet feeling of Christmas morning, waking up to the sunlight pouring through the window on a bright but snowy day. Holding a large mug of steaming hot chocolate in your hands, you look out and just enjoy the simplicity of silence while everyone else is still asleep from the previous night’s festivities. You breathe in all the joy and love that abundantly flows through your home, and you do not mind at all that there are Christmas wrappers strewn all over the floor; half-empty Christmas stockings hanging near the fireplace; and half bitten cookies still hanging on the tree.
But these cookies aren’t just good as stained-glass ornaments, if that’s what you’re thinking. They are actually quite magnificent. The butter cookies themselves are delicious, with just a light sweetness that lends itself to the candy centre. The cookies are slightly crunchy, but the melted candy centres are decisively so. And they are sooooo addicting! It’s impossible to have just one. Impossible, I tell you!
I packed a box for my little cousins, and from what my Aunt texted me a few hours later, the cookies disappeared in the blink of an eye. Good thing she managed to keep a piece for herself. It’s such a great feeling for me when I hear about my adorable wittle cousins loving the cute wittle baked goods I send them, but it’s a bonus when I hear that the adults love them too.
Another thing that makes these cookies so wonderful is how it is such a great way to have fun with a group of people. You could organize some sort of holiday baking party with these cookies as one of the things on your to-bake list. Break out your cookie cutters and chopped candies in all colours and flavours imaginable, and you’re good to go.
The fact that you can make them with your friends and loved ones; cutting out shapes, figuring out where to place the stained-glass candies within these shapes, and the best part– crowding near the oven door in anticipation, watching the chopped candy melt into place… To me that is just bonding at its finest! And it’s one of the things that makes Christmas such a great holiday. We had such a blast making these at home! These are originally called Stained-Glass Tree Cookies but there’s really no reason why you can’t make them into anything else. Check out the different shapes we went with:
Just so you know:
- When is the best time to make this recipe? Depends on the shape of your cookie cutters. The stained-glass effect of the cookies matches best with the Christmas season though.
- Anything special we should know about before attempting this recipe? It does take a bit of time to do, what with the rolling, cutting and chopping of the candies. Just keep in mind that a little bit of added effort produces magical results!
- Would I change anything from this recipe? I won’t change a thing! I’m just excited to try out a variety of other candies for the centre, like sour candies for instance! I think that would be awesome.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 7 ounces assorted clear colored hard candies, such as Jolly Rancher, colors separated and finely chopped (about 30)
- 1. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder into a large bowl; set aside.
- 2. Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg; mix until smooth, 1 minute.
- 3. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, and mix until combined. Stir in vanilla.
- 4. Wrap dough in plastic, and refrigerate until cold, about 45 minutes.
- 5. Preheat oven to 325°F (°C), placing racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.
- 6. Roll out chilled dough on a well-floured surface to a little more than 1/8-inch thick. Cut out shapes using cookie cutter shapes of choice. Using a metal spatula, space the dough 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
- 7. Using the tip of a paring knife, make a cutout in the center of each cookie for candy filling. Reroll scraps, and cut.
- 8. Sprinkle candy in a single layer in the hole of each cookie, avoiding edges of triangle. Refrigerate until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.
- 9. Bake cookies until candy has melted and completely filled cutout and cookie edges are just starting to turn pale golden brown, 11 to 12 minutes. Do not let the cookies brown, or the candy centers may become bubbly.
- 10. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Use a metal spatula to remove cookies from parchment.
In truth, there are quite a few beautiful things that don’t require that much difficulty to make, and these cookies are definitely one of them. And not only are they beautiful, they are yummy! These won’t fail to put a smile upon the face of anybody who receives them, and to me that’s one of the best gifts one could share on Christmas.
So from the very bottom of my heart, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. And of course, great food! Happy holidays, everyone! 🙂