Yay for Julie who sent this in very late last night after her trip. Glad to have her back.
The Great Cookie Experiment: Magic Window Cookies
I’m back in the oldest section of my cookbook here, filled with dot matrix printouts of recipes I got from the internet over a decade ago, and never made. I was impressed with this recipe because I LOVED the idea of melting lifesavers to make a cookie that looks like stained glass windows! I never knew you could do that. Right around the time I got this recipe, I stopped making cookies for Christmas in favor of learning how to make candy. Stained glass windows are made for Christmas, and this just didn’t fit in with my cooking schedule. Finally, this cookie has a chance!
I need to talk about Lifesavers for a moment. When I was a little girl, it was called Lifesavers ROLL candy, and you could find it in the checkout stand next to all the packs of gum. There were always five basic flavors: Cherry, Orange, Lemon, Lime, and Not Lemon, which I discovered much later was supposed to be Pineapple flavor. Times have changed, people. I went to look for Lifesavers in the checkout aisle, where they always USED to be. No Lifesavers. No roll candy at all! There were boxes of breath mints, and packs of gum, and that was it. I went to the candy aisle. No rolls of Lifesavers. Instead, there were bags of individually wrapped, much larger, Lifesavers hanging next to the Gummi Bears. I found a five flavor bag, but the flavors have changed! Now it’s Cherry, Raspberry, Orange, Watermelon, and Pineapple! Lemon and Lime are gone! Okay, I never actually liked Lime, but Lemon is an important flavor! This is not the Lifesavers I remember, people, and don’t get me started on the travesty that has become the books of Lifesavers you get at Christmas. It’s enough to make a person cry.
The good news, giant individually wrapped Lifesavers melt just the same as smaller roll candy Lifesavers. I tried briefly for something that would look patriotic when I started rolling out the cookies. I imagined stars with beautiful red jeweled centers. I couldn’t find my star cookie cutter, however, so I cut them in rounds. I have this little set of aspic cutters that have these teeny little cookie cutter shapes. I thought the star shape would be fun to work with, so I cut out tiny almost star shaped centers, and filled them with crushed red candy. This was NOT the most brilliant design choice. The aspic cutters were just too small. I got these big round cookies with tiny red centers. It did NOT look like stained glass windows at all. I really needed to get bold with a big candy center. My cookies came out looking kind of pathetic.
Looks weren’t the only problem. I should have guessed something was wrong when the recipe suggested that you poke a hole in the dough before you bake it so that you could hang the cookie up as a decoration. That was a secret code for “this is a pretty cool looking cookie, but nobody is really going to want to eat it.” My other clue should have come when the sugar cookie dough was made with shortening instead of butter. I have nothing against shortening in general, but it doesn’t make for rich amazing sugar cookies. It makes for bland sturdy good for hanging as decoration cookies. The melted Lifesaver centers tasted wonderful- THAT hasn’t changed. The cherry flavor just didn’t blend with the sugar cookie for a great taste combination.
These really could be cool and beautiful if you do a better job than I did of cutting out your shapes. Tying them with ribbon and hanging them on a little Christmas tree somewhere would just be gorgeous. Just remember that if you’re going to eat them, suck out the center candy and leave the rest. Better yet, just eat the giant Lifesavers from their bag and skip the cookie part altogether.
Magic Window Cookies
1 cup sugar
¾ cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla or ½ tsp lemon extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
5 rolls Lifesavers (These don’t exist. Buy the bag)
Mix sugar, shortening, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Roll dough ¼ inch thick on a lightly floured board. Cut into desired shape with cookie cutters. Place cookies on aluminum foil covered cookie sheets. Cut out designs from the cookie using smaller cookie cutters or your own patterns. Place whole or partially crushed candy in the cutouts, trying to fill the open space. If cookies are to be hung, make a hole ¼ inch from the top with the end of a plastic straw.
Heat oven to 370. Bake until cookies are very light brown, and candy is melted: 7-9 minutes. If candy has not filled the cutout design, immediately spread iwht a metal spatula. Cook completely on the cookie sheet. Gently remove cookies. Makes about 6 dozen 3 inch cookies.