ORNAMENTAL SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Updated: Dec 23, 2021
A simple shortbread cookie dough is transformed into insanely cute and festive edible ornaments! Hard candy is melted in the cutout center to add a gorgeous "stained glass" effect. All you need is a straw and some ribbon to turn these adorable treats into a homemade gift and decoration!
Yield: ~ 3 dozen, depending on size
Small bag of Hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, Life Savers, Candy Canes, etc!)
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (can be dairy-free)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond, coconut, etc!)
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 egg white
Sanding sugar (colored optional)
Thin ribbons, standard-sized drinking straw (optional)
1. Unwrap and separate hard candies by each color/type then place in separate small resealable bags (wax paper bags are perfect, plastic works well too). Crush into small bits (NOT powder, no larger than a pea) using a meat mallet or rolling pin, set aside.
2. In a large bowl using a stand mixer, hand mixer, OR wooden spoon, cream together butter, sugar until well combined. Scrape the sides and bottom of bowl using a silicone spatula.
3. Mix in eggs one at a time then blend in vanilla. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with spatula again. This ensures an evenly mixed dough at the end.
4. With mixer set on low speed slowly add in flour, in thirds, and mix until well combined. Scrape that bowl!
5. Scrape dough out and shape into a rectangle, kneading in any ingredients that didn't get fully mixed in in the mixer. Cut dough into thirds.
6. Roll each 1/3 dough out onto a floured surface (about 1/4-inch thick). Layer the 3 sheets of dough on parchment paper OR silicone baking mats. Place on baking tray and chill in fridge ~30 minutes, until butter has hardened again and dough is firm.
7. Preheat oven to 350°F
8. Take one sheet out to work with and chill remaining. Cut out as many shapes as possible using the cookie cutter(s) of choice. You will repeat the following process until all the dough has been used. Keeping the unused dough in the fridge ensures it will stay cold until we put it in the oven.
9. Transfer cut shapes to baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (candies will stick to parchment paper, and wax paper isn't oven safe). Cut a smaller shape with a smaller cookie cutter from the center of each and remove. Re-roll and cut scrap dough until all dough has been used. Using a straw (optional), punch out little holes at the top of your cookies to use them as ornaments or gift tags!
10. Optional: brush each cookie with a little bit of whisked egg white, and sprinkle on sanding sugar. Fill cut out centers with crushed candies. The candies should be a little higher than the level of the cookie, as it bakes it will level out and be flush with the cookie. It's ok if you see the baking tray. As the candies melt, they will flood the entire shape.
11. Bake cookies until set and candy center has melted, about 12 - 15 minutes (everyone's oven is different! The edges of the cookies should be golden brown and the cookies should be set)
12. Let cool on baking sheet until candies have set and hardened. If your kitchen is humid or hot, they will take a while to set. Popping them in the fridge once the trays have cooled a bit helps the candies harden. Repeat process with all dough.
13. Store in an airtight container and enjoy!! Happy Holidays!!