In a scene repeated across the country’s homes and offices, Halloween candy leftovers haunt the newsroom like so many ghosts of holidays past. Without children old enough to trick-or-treat, my home has so far been spared extra sugar, calories and artificial colors and flavors — but not for long.
Christmas (believe it or not) already hovers on the horizon, with today as the deadline for entries in Medford’s annual GingerBread Jubilee. Crafting a gingerbread house is one strategy for using up the Halloween haul. Another is by baking candies into all manner of sweets — just in case your family hasn’t consumed enough sugar!
Here’s a recipe for stained-glass cookies that evokes holidays yet to come and transforms the aesthetic of leftover hard candies. It numbered among recipes recently gathered by McClatchy News Service from bakeries in Fort Worth, Texas. This one is courtesy of J. Rae’s Bakery, owned by a couple with two young children, meaning they’re well-versed in tricks for repurposing Halloween treats.
1⁄2 cup (1 stick) butter
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg
1⁄8 teaspoon cloves
3⁄4 teaspoon baking powder
30 to 40 hard candies (such as Life Savers), preferably in several flavors/colors
Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy, for about 2 minutes. Add the molasses and vanilla and continue to mix until incorporated. Add the egg and mix until light and smooth, for about 1 minute on medium speed.
Sift together the flour, salt, spices and baking powder. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture. Use electric mixer to blend just enough to incorporate flour to form dough. Divide dough in half and flatten into 2 discs. Wrap discs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or for up to 2 days.
Remove wrappers on the candies and separate by color into plastic bags. Use a mallet to crush candies.
Roll dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness using just enough extra flour to prevent dough from sticking. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes. Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between cookies. Using a smaller cookie cutter or knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies.
Use a spoon to sprinkle crushed candy into hollowed-out centers of cookies, filling to edges. Try to keep candy within centers. Any candy specks that fall on dough will color cookie.
Bake in preheated oven for 9 to 10 minutes, or until crushed candies are melted and bubbling and cookies are just barely browned. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on pans for at least 10 minutes. (Otherwise, candy centers may separate from dough.) After 10 minutes, transfer to a wire rack until cooled completely. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 3 dozen.