These gluten-free stained glass cookies taste great and they do NOT crumble apart. They are perfect for holidays or just because!
Way back in the day, back before I even knew what Celiac Disease was, I baked and I baked and I baked. Baking served a lot of functions for me back then… it was something I enjoyed and provided great entertainment with an end product that could be used (eaten), it was a great stress reliever for me, baking made it easy for me to create inexpensive gifts for friends and family that were always appreciated, and it gave me an alternate source of income. After going gluten-free, I continued baking but it went from something I loved to something I loathed.
Without my handy dandy bag of all-purpose flour, I found myself in search of alternate ingredients for my tried-and-true recipes I had developed over the years. My first successful bakes turned everything I had previously done on its head… I would take a big bag of almonds from Sam’s Club, blanch them to loosen their jackets, then hand remove the skins entirely. Next, I’d toast the almonds in the oven, drying them out so that I could pulse them in my food processor something akin to almond meal. Once that was an even consistency I then transferred that into a coffee grinder to pulse it into an even finer almond flour. Back then, I couldn’t find almond flour ANYWHERE for purchase and so this was the best option for me. I did this for YEARS. Cupcakes, cakes, and muffins came out okay but were extremely moist and seemed to mold quite quickly. Bread was never good enough to make them worth the hassle and so I became a fan of the “salad burger” or “salad sandwich” as my nephews would call them. Meat on top of lettuce. No bread anywhere in sight. Bleh.
Now that I’ve had years upon years upon years of cooking gluten free, I’ve got a few new tricks up my sleeve. And commercially made products are insanely easier to find now than they were back when I started, making things so much more convenient nowadays.
But even now with all of the xanthan gum, mixes and flours I could NOT work up a gluten-free sugar cookie recipe or cut out cookie recipe that would hold up and not crumble into a mess on the first bite on my own. I’m super excited, because even though I haven’t been able to knock out my own recipe, I’ve found a way to cheat and make amazing gluten-free stained glass cookies that don’t crumble and taste like a dream. Like, for real, these cookies didn’t even last a DAY. But, spoiler alert, I used a gluten-free cut-out cookie mix because it is SO easy and SO good and even with YEARS of attempts I just can’t make a gluten free cut out cookie that can compete.
For my cookies, I used gfJules Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookie Mix and it truly is amazing stuff. Back in your pre-gluten-free days did you ever eat those cookies that grandmas always seemed to have on hand in the blue tins? There were the cookies shaped like squares and pretzels and they were buttery and amazing with huge chunks of sugar on top? Yeah? Well if you use butter-flavored shortening, this cookie mix tastes JUST like I remember those cookie having tasted. And THAT is a big reason WHY these cookies didn’t last the night here!
You might notice that my cookies are kind of a mess. I figure they kind of reflect my life right now, which is also kind of a mess :) Having recently suffered a fairly traumatic breakup and currently in the middle of a 340+ mile move across state (what? Texas is HUGE) with no real clue what to do or where to set up my life, I actually made these cookies more for myself than for the blog. I had been having a particularly bad day with lots of tears and upset and all of that when I realized that with nobody around to help me, I needed to do better taking care of myself. And so one night I shut down a little bit early and took the time to make myself some gluten-free stained glass cookies. As I tucked in to the first one, having this been my first attempt baking with gfJules Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookie Mix, I actually realized that it was my first food of the day. After a quick, but terribly difficult to contain myself photo shoot in my homemade lightbox, I tucked in and took these cookies clean OUT.
Again, my cookie are messy. As I was making them my hands were shaking, maybe because of the stress but definitely not helped by my lack of sustenance the entire day, and I overfilled my cookies a bit too much and got it on the edges of the dough, making for less than amazing results. But, guess what, guys? Nobody is perfect all of the time. And though I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to share these for their distinct imperfections, I decided to go for it because they’re still pretty, even if not perfect, are amazingly tasty, a gluten-free cookie DREAM, and they’re an honest representation of where my life currently is. And come this Christmas I’ll give this project another go. My life will have settled significantly (one can hope!) and maybe my cookies will be just a little bit prettier! :)
So, want to shut my gob and see how these guys are made?
Let’s make some gluten-free stained glass cookies using gfJules Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookie Mix.
Perfect for holidays or just because, these stained glass cookies are not just tasty, but can also be so beautiful. Using the hard candy of your choice, select colors that go with your season or theme or just use your fave flavors! The recipe on gfJules Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookie Mix uses the whole can in one go and that’s a lot of doIf you’reou’re just a single, like me, or if you don’t want to make tons and tons of cookies right now, I actually halved my dough and froze part of it for later. With a thaw in the refrigerator overnight, these cookies were buttery and crisp and amazing, so feel free to freeze the dough you don’t need for today.
- gfJules Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookie Mix
- butter-flavored shortening
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup milk
- hard candy (I like using Jolly Ranchers – These Awesome Red Bags are PERFECT for V-day)
- stand mixer or hand mixer
- parchment paper
- cookie sheet (this Nordicware baking sheet is AMAZING and means more cookies in one sheet at once, kapow!) p.s. after buying on Amazon I found them for half the price at Wal-Mart!
- kitchen scissors
- rolling pin
- wire cookie cooling rack
- cookie cutters (I used these Wilton Hearts)
First thing’s first, let’s work out some aggression, shall we? :)
Separate your hard candies by color and/or flavor and then put the whole candies inside of 2 freezer bags, both zipped up and wrap it up with a tea towel that you don’t mind possible getting little tears and cuts in it. Yes, you want to use TWO bags. Yes, you want to use the much thicker and a little more expensive FREEZER zipper bags… Yes the sharp edges of the candy just might make little tears in your tea towel.
Now, using your rolling pin or a meat tenderizer (full disclosure/idiot alert* I searched for FOOD HAMMER because I couldn’t remember what the darn thing was called, haha!) bash the crap out of that candy until you get it as powdered as possible. A few small chunks are totally cool (you can see my consistency in the pic below, which worked out just fine) but you do want to make them as small as possible.
FYI – do NOT use your food processor because you WILL totally jack up the blade. I learned that one when I made my very first batch of stained glass cookies way back in the day, which also happened to be my very first day with my BRAND NEW food processor that, unfortunately, was used for only one recipe because, you guessed it, folks, I totally jacked up the blade and ruined it!
Gluten is what makes doughs stretchy. Without the gluten, gluten-free cookie dough can be super difficult to handle and, while the end result of these cookies are crisp and hold together very well, they didn’t have as much give to them when raw as a traditional wheat cookie dough and needed to be handled super delicately, which just isn’t my thing.
After a bit of trial and error, this is the best method I found for cutting my cookies… I found that if I rolled out my dough in between 2 pieces of parchment paper, then cutting the cookies out with my heart shaped cookie cutters and gently removing the excess from around each cookie that I could then trim the paper with my kitchen scissors. Using a spatula I would slide under the parchment of each individual cookie I could gently transfer them to my giant-ass cookie sheet. Seriously, though, guys, this sucker is massive and I LOVE this baking sheet, no lie.
Okay, so moving the dough taken care of, let’s talk about HOW you actually make these adorable little cookies with their stained glass panes…
You’ll need to find nesting cookie cutters, or just a larger cutter for the outer shape and smaller cutter to use for the candy-filled “glass” of your cookies. You’ll cut the larger outside shape and then in the center a smaller shape with a smaller cutter which probably goes without saying, but whatevs. Gently pull away the dough from the center until you have a dough-free spot right in the middle of each cookie. Spoon a small amount of candy into the opening, on top of the parchment paper. You’ll want just enough to cover the opening, but not so much that it goes up over the edges. Don’t pile the candy up in the center, that is where I went wrong, because the excess candy will bubble up over the edges of your cookies when baked giving them sort of a wonky look. But, hey, they’ll still be darn tasty :)
But, wait! How did we make that dough? With your stand mixer or hand mixer whip together your butter-flavored shortening and half of the tub of gfJules Gluten Free Cut-Out Cookie Mix until nice and fluffy. Add your egg, milk and slowly pour in the other half of can of the mix. If your dough is too dry, add 1-2 more tablespoons of milk until you get a dough you can easily roll out. Make the dough into 2 large hockey puck shapes and wrap well in cling film. Place in the fridge for at least a few hours, though overnight is best, to chill well.
Once cut, bake cookies at 350º for 7-9 minutes (depending on the size) or until the edges begin to brown and the candy is fully melted. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to sit on the cookie sheet until the candy quits bubbling. FYI, the can suggests 375° but I found that that much heat made my candy bubble ALL over the place. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies, parchment paper and all to a wire cookie cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely and then gently peel away the parchment from the backs (the candy will stick a little but not completely).
Store in an air-tight container to keep the cookies from getting sticky in the humidity (the candy WILL get sticky if it’s humid and they’re left out).
And, if like my your hands are a bit shaky, you can always purposefully sprinkle a little extra candy on the tops of the cookies for a pretty polka dotted look. And if you LOVE the taste of your candy, it just adds more of that flavor to the cookie, which is totally a win in my book :)
Here’s to better days and better gluten free stained glass cookies to come, huzzah!