Stained Glass Cookies
These Stained Glass Window Cookies are made with a simple shortbread cookie base. They’re cut into decorative shapes and filled with melted isomalt (beet sugar) and embellished with edible flowers to create a beautiful stained-glass effect. These cookies are super easy to make and they’re ready in just 30 minutes!
I love experimenting with different ingredients, so when I found isomalt during my recent trip to the cake decorating shop, I had to try it! I had lots of edible flowers growing in my garden, so I used them to create these beautiful stained glass effect cookies. These cookies may look elaborate, but they’re actually really easy to make. You simply cut a larger round from the cookie dough, transfer it to a baking sheet, then cut out a smaller round and bake. Once baked, you fill the cookie centres with melted isomalt, then top with edible flowers and they’re ready to enjoy!
Why you'll love these stained glass cookies:
They’re crisp outside and buttery soft inside
They're super easy to make
They're completely vegan
You won’t need any fancy baking equipment
They’re ready in around 30 minutes!
Texture: Underneath all this glitz and glamour, we have a classic buttery and crumbly vegan shortbread biscuit.
Flavour: The sugar cookies have a sweet vanilla flavour. If you want to spice things up, you can add additional flavours such as cinnamon or lemon zest to the dough.
Ease: Not tricky at all! If you’re comfortable making cut-out sugar cookies, you’ll do just fine with these. The isomalt dries out really quickly, so the only tricky bit is working fast when adding the edible flower decorations on top of the melted isomalt.
Time: The cookie dough comes together in just a few minutes, and they take just 12 minutes to bake.
Ingredients for Stained Glass Cookies
Here’s everything you’ll need to make these cookies:
Flour: you’ll need plain, all-purpose flour.
Sugar: I’ve used caster sugar for this recipe, but granulated sugar would also work.
Vanilla: You’ll need about 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
Vegetable oil: you can use any neutral tasting oil. The oil will give the cookies a crumblier texture.
Vegan butter: I've used the Flora plant-based butter block, but any vegan butter will do.
Water: you’ll need a few tablespoons of cold water to bring the dough together.
Isomalt: you’ll need 200g ready tempered isomalt. I used clear isomalt but you can use different colours.
Edible flowers: I used violas but you can use any edible flower of your choice, just make sure they're small enough to fit the cookie.
What is Isomalt?
Isomalt is a sugar substitute created from the sugar that has been made from beets. Isomalt needs to be melted first to be molded, shaped, or used for decoration.
Is isomalt good for health?
Isomalt is a healthier sugar alternative that can make maintaining a low sugar intake significantly easier. You can use isomalt in a variety of ways, which makes this sugar substitute a staple in your kitchen. Not only that, but isomalt tastes great and is better for you!
Where to find isomalt?
Although you probably won’t find it in your average supermarket, you will be able to find isomalt in most cake decorating shops, or you can just order it online.
Can I use melted sugar instead?
You could, but it'll be nowhere near as clear as isomalt, and it’ll have an orange tint to it. The image above demonstrates the difference between isomalt and sugar. Image 1 is melted isomalt, and images 2 and 3 are made with sugar. You’ll notice that image 2 looks really cloudy, and this is because I tried to prevent getting the orange tint by cooking it for less, and although it looked like the sugar had melted completely when it was still hot, once it had cooled, sugar crystals had formed giving it a rough and cloudy appearance. The third example has an orange tint to it, and this is because the sugar starts to caramelize as it melts. Depending on what kind of look you're after, you can use melted sugar, but if you want a clear, glass-like effect, isomalt is the way to go.
How to make Stained Glass Cookies
Preheat the oven 180C. Put the flour, butter, vanilla extract, and sugar into a mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine the ingredients until they resemble breadcrumbs, then add the oil and water and knead until it comes together to form a dough. Cover the dough with cling film and place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to ½ cm thickness. Cut out your cookies using a 10cm round-shaped cookie cutter. Using a smaller 4-5cm round cookie cutter, cut out rounds from the centre of each cookie and remove. Re-roll the off cuts of dough and continue cutting until all the dough used (You will get around 12-15 cookies). Arrange the cookies on 2 baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats.
Place in the oven to bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and leave them to cool on the tray for 10 minutes.
Isomalt dries out quite fast, so you’ll need to melt it in individual batches for each cookie. You’ll need around 15g of isomalt per cookie, so weigh out 15g of isomalt and place into a microwave safe bowl. Melt in 30-second increments until the isomalt becomes fluid. Carefully remove the isomalt from the microwave using ovenproof gloves – the isomalt will be extremely hot. Stir and wait for the bubbling to stop then slowly pour into the centre of the cookie. Press an edible flower onto the hot isomalt and give it about a minute for the isomalt to set. Repeat this process with the remaining cookies. Once all the cookies have set, store them into an airtight container and consume within 1 week.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
You'll need a 10cm and 4-5cm round cookie cutter - this will create around 10-12 biscuits; you could use a larger cookie cutter but you’ll get less biscuits out of the dough.
How to store Stained Glass Cookies
Store the cookies in an airtight container and they’ll stay good for up to 1 week at room temperature. These cookies are not suitable for freezing once they’ve been baked, however, you can freeze the dough for up to a month, and then once you’re ready to use it, simply defrost it, shape the cookies and bake.
Notes and Tips
Gluten-free: I haven’t tested these cookies with gluten-free flour, but I’ll be testing some recipes very soon!
What brand of vegan butter? I used the unsalted Flora plant butter block, which is one of my favourite vegan butters. The Naturli vegan butter block also works well in vegan baking.
Alternatives: This shortbread recipe is a great base for any flavour shortbread biscuit. You can experiment by adding different flavours to it such as cinnamon or lemon zest.
Don’t lift the cookies off the baking tray when you take them out of the oven - these cookies will feel very soft even after baking, so don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re undercooked. They’ll harden as they cool down, but if you try to move them when they’re fresh out the oven, I can guarantee they’ll break, so make sure you let them cool down on the baking tray for 5 minutes or so before transferring them to a wire rack.