This Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie makes a fun Halloween party centerpiece. It’s made with dark chocolate sugar cookie dough and crushed hard candies. Break it apart to share pieces with partygoers.
Happy First Day of October!
I’ve been working on some special Halloween baking projects, and this was one I couldn’t wait to share. You may recognize the technique, or maybe you’ve even made stained glass cookies for Christmas. They are popular around the holidays because they will make any cookie tray look a little more lively and beautiful.
I wanted to put a new spin on the idea. And when I spotted this spider web stencil, I imagined an extra-large cookie with a web of multicolor panes.
Spin a (cookie) web!
Mix up a batch of my favorite chocolate sugar cookie dough to get started. The recipe is from my first baking book, and a dozen years later it’s still my go-to for sugar cookies. The dough keeps its shape well during baking, so it makes the perfect blank canvas for all kinds of cookie projects.
Roll out the dough and place the stencil on top Use an X-acto knife to cut out the webbing. To remove the cookie dough cut-outs, spear them at an angle with a toothpick and pop them out. You can see this in action in the video I made at the end of this post.
Fill in the blanks.
Fill in the spaces between the webbing with crushed hard candies. I have a big bag of these fruity hard candy pieces that I used for this project, but a bag of Jolly Ranchers from the grocery store will do just fine. Place same colors of candies in separate zip-top bags. Use a rolling pin or small hammer to crush the candies.
Use a small dessert or demitasse spoon to portion the crushed candies into the spaces. Full disclosure: This part can be tedious, especially filling in the small triangles near the center. If the candy spills over the edges of the webbing, use a small kitchen-dedicated art brush to sweep it back into the hole.
Bake at 350°F.
When all of the spaces are filled in with crushed candies, bake the cookie for 5 minutes, or just until the candy is melted. Remove from the oven to cool, and then fill with more crushed candies. This second layer of filling goes waaaay more quickly because the cookie dough is baked. The crushed candy doesn’t stick to it as much. Bake again for another 5 minutes, or until the candy is melted. Let the cookie cool completely on the pan before attempting to pick it up. The double layer of candy strengthens the cookie, but you’ll still need to be careful picking it up.
You can make the cookie a little creepier with a big red spider made of modeling chocolate. I like the Satin Ice Chocopan brand. It’s easier than it looks, and I’ve included its creation in the video tutorial.
Attach the spider to a corner of the cookie using a little melted chocolate. Let it firm before placing the cookie upright.
This cookie reminds me of a round stained glass window I once saw in an old Victorian home. It’s really pretty in the light, and looks best angled so the sun shines through it. Or, if you have a candle or twinkle lights, they’ll look pretty illuminating the colorful panes, too!
You may be asking yourself, ‘how do you eat a Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie?!’. After you’re done showing it off, break it into pieces with your hands. The cookie will easily separate between the webbing for many servings.
Giant Stained Glass Spider Web Cookie
You’ll need a 12×12-inch spider web stencil to make this cookie. You may find one at your local craft store, or see links in the blog post for resources. Use your favorite fruity hard candies for this treat. Most any hard candy will work, but Jolly Ranchers are widely available and work well.
Dark chocolate web cookie
- 14 oz. bag fruit-flavored hard candies such as Jolly Ranchers
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup dark cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
Place same colors of candies in separate zip-top bags. Use a rolling pin or small hammer to crush the candies. Pour each color of crushed candy into separate bowls; cover and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking.
Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency.
Have a large baking sheet ready to hand, large enough to accommodate a 12×12-inch sheet of cookie dough. Set aside.
Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of parchment paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough between the sheets into a large square greater than 12×12, with a rolling pin. Aim for a little more than 1/4-inch thickness, but not quite 1/2 inch. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and place the web stencil on top of the dough. Cut around the outside edge of the stencil so that you have a 12×12-inch sheet of dough. Remove the stencil and pick up the dough by the bottom parchment paper. Transfer it to a large cookie sheet or cake board and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Place the stencil back on top of the cookie dough and using the X-acto knife, cut out the webbing. Use a toothpick to pick the pieces of dough away from the webbing. My technique is to place the toothpick into the dough pieces at an angle and lift (see video). Lift the cookie by the parchment ends and place on a large baking sheet.
When all of the pieces are removed, use a small spoon to place crushed candies into the open spaces. Alternate colors. When the spaces are all filled, bake the cookie for 5 minutes, or until the candies are melted. Don’t overbake, and don’t let the candy bubble (this will disturb the webbing and cause crumbing – I learned the hard way!). Cool on the pan completely. Fill the spaces again with crushed candy matching like colors. Bake again for 5-6 minutes, or until the candies are all melted. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the pan.
Meanwhile, make the spider. Knead the red modeling chocolate until pliable. Use the chocolate to roll a 1 1/2-inch ball and a 1/2-inch ball. Use a kitchen-dedicated art brush to place a dot of melted chocolate on one side of the larger ball, and attach the smaller ball to it, to make a spider head and body.
For the legs, roll 8 rope-shaped lengths of modeling chocolate, tapering the ends. Place four pieces of the long ropes side-by-side and pinch together at one end. Repeat the process with the other four pieces. Use the back of a knife to impress marks into the legs creating segmented insect legs.
Flatten the pinched ends of the leg pieces and dot one of the pinched ends with the melted chocolate. Connect the two pinched ends and refrigerate until the chocolate is set. Dot more chocolate on the center flattened piece, where the pinched ends met, and place the spider body on top. Refrigerate until firm. Arrange the legs as desired.
Dot chocolate on one corner of the cooled cookie and attach the spider. Let stand until set, about 15-20 minutes. When the spider is well set, stand the cookie upright and peel away the parchment. Place leaning upright near a sunny window, or place on a cake plate stand. You could also place it on a book stand.
If using this for a Halloween party centerpiece, place near candle light, or in front of string/twinkle lights. Break the cookie into shards and pass out to party guests, or make a show of by having four guests at each corner of the cookie break it over the table.
What to expect:
- This is a craft project as much as a baking project. Dedicate time to its creation without other distractions. Filling the small areas will feel tedious to some, I’m sure, but I think the end result is well worth the effort.
- Tools are key. Have a kitchen-dedicated X-acto knife fitted with a new blade at the ready. It will neatly cut the intricate pieces for easy removal. Be sure to have a large enough baking sheet to accommodate such a big cookie. I ran into this problem and had to trim two edges before baking.
- Crushing the candy in zip-top bags with a rolling pin or hammer will inevitably make some holes in the plastic bags. This happens because of the candy’s jagged edges. It can’t be helped much, so expect this. When you pick up the plastic bag some of the candy may spill out.
- Crushed candy will stick together and solidify in the bowls over time. My advice is to crush the candy and then get to filling those spaces. Don’t crush the candy a day ahead because it will be a solid mass in the bowl the next day.
- This cookie is twice-baked. Watch the cookie as it bakes, and remove it when the candy is just melted. If you allow the cookie to bake for longer, then it will bubble and break the webbing, or cause crumbs (you can see some crumbs in my cookie’s panes, I learned this the had way). Fill the cookie with crushed candy a second time and bake again until just melted. Even though this is a big cookie, there’s not a ton of cookie dough to it. The cookie should be well baked right at 10 minutes.
- You may have a little leftover cookie dough. Re-roll scraps and cut extra cookies. Serve them around the big cookie.