Kitchen Witchery: Stained Glass Sugar Cookies
What’s better than a sugar cookie? A witchy sugar cookie. These beauties feature raven-black dough and blood-red candy centers that look like infernal stained glass. Perfect for darklings with a sweet tooth, these buttery confections can be as simple or complex as you desire.
Gather around the cauldron and I’ll teach you how!
As with any good spell, preparation is everything. You will need a clear work space free of cats, which in my cottage is a challenge. Block off time free from distraction. Connect with the world of slow food and the women who have long prepared it for those they love. Intention in cookie-making is vital to their magic power.
There are many excellent sugar cookie recipes out there, but this is one of the best. For excellent vegan and gluten-free options, The Minimalist Baker has you covered. And if you are a darkling pressed for time, you can also use a mix. Whichever option you choose, follow the directions until the dough is tender to the touch but not sticky. At this point, you will add in gel-based black food coloring (available at craft and department stores as well as online). Knead it into the dough until it is the color of midnight and as shiny as patent-leather Winklepickers. Roll it into a ball, tuck it into a plastic bag, and place it in the refrigerator for at least on hour.
Once it is chilled, you can remove the dough and place it lovingly on a clean work surface that has been strewn with flour. Roll it into a sheet about ¼” thick and use cutters to create shapes. For my cookies, I used hearts, stars, and circles in several sizes. I also cut some free-form planchettes.
Use smaller cutters to make little windows in the centers of the cookies, making sure not to cut too close to the edges. It’s best to leave at least ¼” around the window for stability.
Using a thin-edged spatula, place your cut cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Beware! You must use parchment, not waxed paper. They are very different beasts altogether. Place the baking sheet, parchment, and cookie ensemble into the freezer and heat the oven to the temperature noted in your recipe. I know this seems silly, but every good witch knows that magic comes from mixing contraries. By freezing the cookies slightly, they will retain their shape better as they bake in the oven. Alchemy!
After about ten minutes, remove the cookies from the freezer and place an unwrapped hard candy in each little window. For smaller windows, you may need to crush the candy first. Cinnamon Jolly Ranchers work really well for this, but any hard candy will do! Once the windows are filled, put the cookies into the oven. As they bake, the candy will melt into bubbly stained glass. Once the cookies are firm, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. The parchment paper will prevent the melted candy from sticking to the baking sheet. Spirits be praised!
The best frosting for decorating sugar cookies is royal icing, which is made with confectioner’s sugar and egg whites. I like to use pasteurized egg whites that come in a pour-able container and are located in the egg aisle. To make the frosting, place a cup of confectioner’s sugar into a small cauldron. Add the egg whites tablespoon by tablespoon and mix until it is thick and glossy. Vegan royal icing recipes can be found here.
As with the dough, mix in the black food coloring until it is as dark as your darkling heart desires.
Piping: Place a thicker-consistency royal icing in a pastry bag with a small icing tip—for cookies this is usually a tip size 3 or 4. Squeeze the bag gently until frosting emerges in a strong line from the tip. If you are new to this, it is a good idea to practice on a plate before attacking a cookie. Once you are feeling confident, pipe an unbroken line of frosting around the edge of the cookie and around the little window at the center.
Flooding: Once the piping on the edges of the cookie have hardened (only a few minutes), you can prepare a thinner batch of royal icing. With a small spoon or a kitchen-dedicated paintbrush, fill the area between the piping with icing. Once these areas are filled, let the cookies dry for at least twenty minutes. You will know they are ready when the icing is firm and shiny.
Once the cookies are piped and flooded, let your imagination run wild! I added vines, leaves, tendrils, spikes, and stars. There are also a wide variety of baking decorations available online and in stores. I used small black candy spheres, candy pearls, and silver “studs.” Here are my cookies…what will yours look like? Coffins? Spider webs? Infernal church windows? Ouija Boards? Share your creations with us on Instagram by using #deardarkling.
Once the frosting has dried completely, they are ready to eat! Bring them to your next coven meeting or tarot reading. Give them as gifts to those you love. And know, too, that you are loved, Dear Darkling!