These Valentine’s Day Stained Glass Cookies are made with a shortbread cookie base. They are buttery and delicious as they are a work of art. Customize the shape of the cutouts and the color of the candy for any holiday.
This Valentine’s Day, impress your loved ones with these beautiful and buttery Stained Glass Cookies. The translucent stained glass windows are made by melting hard candies inside the heart shaped cutouts.
These are definitely no ordinary cookies. They are a little bit more involved but totally doable and completely worth it in the end. They are pretty to look at and delicious to eat. They are the perfect Valentine’s Day desserts, be sure to make a few extra for yourself.
How to Make Stained Glass Cookies
This stained glass cookies recipe starts with my classic shortbread cookies. I chose shortbread because they always taste amazing, and they don’t spread too much when baked, which will help keep the heart shaped windows as they are.
Preparing the shortbread cookie dough
- Add softened butter, sugar, and vanilla extract to your stand mixer bowl.
- Beat with the paddle attachment until combined and fluffy.
- In another mixing bowl, whisk together flour, and salt. Add to butter mixture.
- Mix until the dough forms. Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl, and shape it into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 mins to an hour.
- When the dough is ready, take it out of the fridge, and roll out to ¼” – ½” thick and cut it with a 2” cookie cutter. Then cut out the heart shapes in the middle. Freeze the cookie dough before baking to help them keep their shape.
You don’t need to reroll the smaller hearts, keep it to bake into little bite size heart shortbread. But if you want to make more stained glass window cookies, you could reroll them and cut out more cookies.
Can I use different shape?
I used a Linzer cookie cutter and the heart shape insert to create the fluted look with the heart cutouts for these cookies. You could also use any cookie cutter similar in size, about 2”, round, fluted, or even heart shape and a smaller heart cookie cutter to create the windows.
You can customize the shape of the cookies and/or the cutouts for different holidays, like Christmas trees and stars for Christmas, cute animals and flowers for Easter, ect.
The Linzer cookie cutter set comes with different shape inserts but they’re generic: heart, star, round, fluted, moon shapes. If you have a Daiso Japan near you, they carry tiny vegetable cutters for bento making in cute shapes that will work for this recipe. Or find them online.
Preparing the candy
I got a bag of all red Jolly Ranchers just for this recipe (cherry, strawberry, watermelon, fruit punch). One whole candy is too much to fill this size cookie, so you’ll need to break them up into smaller pieces.
Half a candy would be enough for one cookie, but it can be difficult to break them up into a clean half. If you can, it would be a perfect fit inside the heart cutout and you don’t have to deal with spooning candy crumbs and brushing it off, etc.
When I tried to break the candies in half individually, I usually get a bigger half and some jagged smaller pieces. So to make it easier, I just tossed all the candies into a plastic bag and pounded it with a rolling pin to get crushed candy pieces. (Photo 6)
Variance in size is okay when crushing candies, you don’t need them to become tiny spec of candy dust, so don’t worry about pounding them to their death.
When you are crushing the candies, make sure to double bag, and wrap a towel around the bag to protect the rolling pin. The jagged candies can cut through the bag and leave marks on your wooden rolling pin. So don’t use your favorite rolling pin for this task.
When you are happy with the size of the crushed candy, transfer it to a bowl. Watch for holes on the bags. You’ll need to use it right away because the crushed candy will start to stick together if left out too long.
Can I use a different type of candy?
I’ve only used Jolly Ranchers because they are pretty reasonably priced and they come in a variety of colors that you can customize your cookies with. But any translucent hard candy should work for this recipe.
Baking the cookies
- Place frozen cookies on a lined baking sheet, sprinkle with granulated sugar, and bake until almost done (10 – 11 mins).
- Add crushed candies inside the cutouts, enough to fill to the top.
- Bake again until the candies are melted but not caramelized (3 mins). Allow the cookies to cook on the baking sheet until the candy has hardened before moving them.
If you kept the bite size hearts, bake them separately for about 8 mins.
Storing and making ahead
How long do these stained glass window cookies last?
Same as any shortbread cookies, they are best the day they are baked and will last up to a week when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Can I freeze stained glass cookies?
You can freeze the dough for 3 to 6 months. But I don’t recommend freezing the baked cookies since they have hard candy windows. Hard candies will absorb moisture and can get sticky. It is best to freeze the dough and bake these fresh.
Since this shortbread dough freezes well, it is the perfect candidate for making ahead. Once you make the dough, cut them into cookies and just freeze them in an airtight container with a piece of parchment paper between each layer.
Bake them when you need them. However, don’t pre-crush the candies, crush them when you are baking the cookies. Crushed candies can get sticky really quickly since they will absorb moisture from the air.
More Valentine’s Day treats
- Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies with heart chocolate
- “Chocolate Covered Strawberry” Truffles
- Heart shape Strawberry Hand Pies with chocolate crust
- Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes
- Raspberry Truffles
- A mini Red Velvet Cake for two (with leftovers!)
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, send me a photo, rate it and don’t forget to tag me @wildwildwhisk on Instagram. I’d love to see what’s cooking up in your kitchen. Cheers!
Valentine’s Day Stained Glass Cookies
- 8 ounce unsalted butter (room temperature, 226 g)
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar (130 g)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (293 g)
- 1/4 scant teaspoon kosher salt
- Extra sugar for sprinkling
- 14 red Jolly Ranchers (strawberry, cherry, watermelon, or fruit punch, more as needed)
- Add sugar, softened butter, and vanilla extract to the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat using the paddle attachment until combined and fluffy.
- If your flour is not pre-sifted, sift it using a fine mesh sieve. Then whisk together flour, and salt in a mixing bowl and add to the beaten butter mixture. Mix until a dough forms.
- Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a piece of plastic wrap, shape into a disk or a rectangle. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- When the dough is ready, take it out of the refrigerator and roll dough to about 1/4” thick, cut with a Linzer cookie cutter without the insert. Re-roll the scrap dough and cut out more cookies until finished. This will yield about 32 - 34 cookies.
- Now use the heart-shaped Linzer cookie cutter insert to create the heart cutout in the middle of each cookie. Place the cookies and heart cutouts in a container in layers with parchment paper in between and freeze while the oven is preheating.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- In the meantime, unwrap the hard candies, place them inside a plastic bag, wrap the bag with a towel and crush the candies with a rolling pin. Place the crushed candies into a small bowl and set aside.
- When the oven is ready, place the cutout cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet 1 to 2 inches apart. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of cookies generously and bake for 10 - 11 minutes.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a ¼ teaspoon to add crushed candied inside the heart-shaped cutouts, fill it all the way to the top. Place the baking sheet back into the oven, and bake for another 3 minutes until the candies are completely melted.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet until the melted candy hardens, about 5 - 10 minutes, before moving the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To bake the bite size heart cutouts, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet an inch apart. Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top of cookies generously and bake for 8 minutes.
- If you don’t want to keep the bite size heart cookies, you can reroll the dough and make more regular size cookies.
- Don’t leave the crushed candies out too long as they will get stuck together in a big clump. Crush them just before you are ready to use them.
- Freezing the cookie dough will help the cookies keep their shape better while baking.
- Increase the baking time by a couple minutes if you like your cookies with more golden brown edges and crispier.
This post was originally published on 2/1/2018. The post has been updated and republished on 1/23/2020 with the latest improvements, extra tips and process photos to help you in the kitchen.