I don't know about you, but sometimes I find the instructions on Martha's website a bit simplistic. I don't just mean that they keep it simple, but that they actually leave stuff out. Maybe it's an accident, or maybe they just don't want to explain the long, involved steps it took to get the end product.
Which, if you haven't noticed, is something that just happens to be my specialty.
For example, in the Stained Glass Cookie project, they say simply "Then sprinkle crushed hard candy generously in the window of the letter." What they don't mention is how to crush those hard candies (they do suggest using jolly ranchers specifically, which was helpful to know).
I did this to one of my old cookie sheets trying to get "crushed hard candy".
I've tried putting them in the freezer to make them more brittle and was *this* close to heading to the hardware store to buy one of those tools for shattering windows. You know, the kind that you're supposed to keep in your car with you in case you drive into a lake.
Anyway, I'm here to tell you that I have come up with something that works fairly easily and doesn't involve a trip to the hardware store. It would be useful on both these cookies and this gingerbread house.
First put the candies on a parchment paper (or Silpat) lined cookie sheet.
(The Creme Savers are there because I was melting them for another Valentine's project. Though I would suggest that you stick to doing one kind of candy at a time because they melt at different rates.)
Put in a 300 degree oven until they are completely melted flat. This takes between 5 and 10 minutes.
Pull them out and let them cool completely.
At this point you can either crush them with the hard implement of your choice or break them into small pieces with your hands (though be careful, cause they can be sharp). Personally, I like the pieces. One of the other problems I'd originally had with the recipe was that sprinkling crushed candies resulted in lots of stray melted candy all over my cookies. These bigger pieces are much easier to place, which is good because I am messy.
Now, put back into the oven to melt.
The bigger pieces do take longer to melt than the crushed. So, when cooking the cookies originally, you'll want to pull the cookies out about 10 minutes before they are done and then add the candy pieces. That way they won't overcook when you put them back in to melt the candy.
This process might seem to require more time than banging away at hard candies, but it really took me much less time and definitely much less effort. And I'm sure Jeff's glad that I didn't pound dents into his fancy air bake cookie sheets.
Valentine's Day Stained Glass Cookies
Valentine's Day Gingerbread House
Halloween Cookie Shack
Stained Glass Cookies Flickr Group