Sugared Gumdrop Cookies are butter cookies which have been generously tossed in sanding sugar with a festive gumdrop baked right into the center! These cookies are adorably festive, easy and budget-friendly, and bite-sized too!
Even though gumdrops were always present in my mom’s kitchen, I never grew up eating Sugared Gumpdrop Cookies. No, those gumdrops were saved for mom’s Gumdrop Cake which she would make quite often – not just at Christmastime, which is when you normally see them.
Gumdrops are quite common in Newfoundland, although I must say, unless you go to a baking supply store, they’re really not that common elsewhere. I tend to buy gumdrops in bulk rather than in a factory-sealed plastic bag like my mom used to get them.
And even though most people argue that they all taste the same, I always reach for the red or green ones first. Do they taste the same? Is it just my mind playing tricks on me; like, you know how we all think green tastes like lime? If you know for sure, please share it with me!
WHAT ARE GUMDROPS?
Are you familiar with gumdrops, Dear Reader? Okay, so there are two kinds of gumdrops. There are gumdrops that are sugar coated candy that you can buy from the candy store. They are soft like a jelly candy and are not meant for baking. Contrary to popular belief, gumdrops are not the same as jube jubes or wine gums. Gumdrops are a type of baking candy. They are brightly colored pectin-based pieces, shaped like a narrow dome with a flattened top. They come in fruit flavors. I usually find them a Fortinos.
Then, there are gumdrops that are specifically meant for baking even though they can be eaten as a candy too. These types of gumdrops are sometimes referred to as baking gums. They are harder than the candy type gumdrops, much like a jube jube.
Don’t think you can substitute a jube jube for a baking gum though! They are not the same and will melt like butter when they come in contact with the heat from your oven. These are the type of gumdrops/baking gums you need for baking.
Gumdrops are used in baking, candy crafting, decorating, and for eating out of hand to mouth. They are often used for decorating cakes and cupcakes. Around Christmastime, this candy is an ingredient commonly used in the making and decorating of gingerbread houses.
MORE CHRISTMAS COOKIE RECIPES!
Did you know that I’ve been posting a 24 Cookies of Christmas series for a few years now? There are over 100 Christmas cookie recipes that you can find right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen! To make it easier to find, I have created a page for each series. Just click on the image below and you’ll find the full series for that volume all one page!
SANDING VS GRANULATED SUGAR
I’ve been using coarse sanding sugar quite a bit in this 24 Cookies of Christmas series. I hope it hasn’t been too difficult for you to find. Sanding sugar is sometimes referred to as baking sugar, and there are some substitutes.
You can use other sugars – which are basically the same, but named something differently – there’s pearl sugar and coarse sugar. You cannot, however, use granulated sugar. Let me explain why.
Whereas an individual granule of sanding sugar is large and hard, a single granule of granulated sugar is quite small. Sanding sugar will hold up to the heat in your oven without melting; granulated sugar will not.
If you can only find granulated sugar, you can either skip the coating in sugar step, or you can use turbinado sugar. Turbinado sugar is a golden brown though, so it will throw off the colour of your finished cookie.
MORE CHRISTMAS CONFECTIONS!
In some cases, we want more than a cookie. That’s why I have two more Christmas-themed collections you might want to consider. The first, is my 12 Bundt Cakes of Christmas, and the second is my 12 Biscotti of Christmas. Click on the image below to see each collection all on one page with links to each recipe!
STORING, PACKAGING, AND FREEZING
These Sugared Gumdrop Cookies will stay fresh for about 3-5 days in a covered container and in a cool place. But, if you plan to freeze these cookies, use a food-safe container that can be frozen. You’ll want to ensure a very tight fitting lid too. (I use these quite often when freezing baked goods.) I like to place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the container before pushing the lid on. This helps to create a better seal. The goal is to keep all of that cookie freshness locked in!
You can freeze these cookies for up to three months. They will come out of the freezer looking just like they did when you put them in there. Once you thaw them, they will taste just as fresh, and be just as soft, as the day you first baked them.
If you’re feeling extra festive, make a double batch and share these with your friends and neighbours. I cannot tell you enough times how much people love to receive homemade Christmas cookies. And it feels so good to do so!
Sugared Gumdrop Cookies
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 cup gumdrops
- 1 cup sanding sugar
- Using a hand-held mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy.
- Add the condensed milk and beat into the butter until well combined.
- Add the flour and baking powder. Mix into the butter mixture until well incorporated.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Set aside. Lastly, pour the sanding sugar into a shallow bowl for rolling the cookie dough into.
- Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and using a small cookie scoop, portion out 1 teaspoon of the cookie dough. Roll it into a smooth ball and then roll it into the sanding sugar.
- Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet, leaving 2 inches of space between each one. Push a gumdrop into the top of each ball – at least half way down.
- Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack to finish cooling.