Bake up some love and make these Father’s Day Gum Drop Cookies! These delicious cookies are sweet, sticky, and full of love!
My stuff was all unloaded into my college dorm room, I was ready to begin my freshmen year studying marketing and advertising, I knew exactly what I wanted out of my future, but my father knew something I didn’t. When we went to say good-bye, my father hugged me and said, “I know I’m going to put you through four years of school and you are going to get out and open a candy store.”
Fast forward four years. Armed with my BS in Business Administration, I joined the corporate world in, what I was positive would be, my dream job. I was thrilled to have been hired at a prestigious advertising agency working for a big name national client, and really enjoyed my work, but found myself drowning in a sea of corporate politics. All of the game playing, butt kissing, and back stabbing was too much for me. When I get stressed, I bake. So, my oven was working overtime. My co-workers sure didn’t mind all the treats I brought into the office. Soon, I began to hear comments about me being in the wrong profession. That was becoming very apparent to me too.
Fast forward one year. I baked a batch of cookies for my family, got in the car for the drive home, and thought about my future for five long hours. My dream of being a big wig in the advertising world had been crumbling and a new dream was emerging. I shared all of my thoughts with my parents that day, and to my surprise and delight, they were incredibly supportive. My mother, an artist, did exactly what she loved for a living and my father, come to find out that day, had worked in a job he hated but had once dreamed of owning his own pizzeria. He could relate to my miserable existence at work and wanted to give me the opportunity to do what he was not able to do – to be my own boss, to do what I love, and to be happy.
Fast forward six months. I quit my job, moved back home (yep into a bedroom in the basement – so grownup), and started my first business. On that long ride home six months earlier, I had come up with my product – candy filled cookies. All of the ice cream shops had just begun offering mix-ins or candy toppings and I decided to use that concept with cookies. A neighbor of mine, years before, had given me a recipe for gumdrop cookies which I had been baking to rave reviews. I found that I could swap out a variety of candy for the gumdrops with great success. I created a dozen different flavors and marketed them as BJaiz Cookies (pronounced bee jays.) I have no idea the actual origin of this recipe and never thought to ask when I was a teenager, nevertheless, it served me well.
My business was a success and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my parents for believing in my talents and allowing me to do something I love. If my father had never had a dream of being an entrepreneur himself, things might have been very different for me. He was incredibly supportive of my business, helping whenever and with whatever I needed. I was especially grateful for his photography skills, of which I had none (working on that!) His pictures were used in my catalogs and advertising (pictured above) and some were even hung on my store walls (right.) After I sold my first business, moved to another city, and opened my second business, he was right there to chip in and help.
So, here is the recipe that started it all. You can make individual cookies or bake a large cookie to celebrate Father’s Day, birthdays, or any special occasion. Although the gumdrop cookie is my favorite, you may want to swap out the gumdrops with Snickers, Butterfingers, 3 Musketeers, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, Mounds, Andes Mints, White Chocolate Chips, or Peppermint (crushed starlight mints.) These were the core flavors in my assortment but I also sold amaretto almond, cinnamon, and even blueberry cookies. Let me know which flavor you like best. This recipe makes enough for two 11″-12″ cookies or three dozen smaller cookies. If you only want one large cookie, cut the recipe in half.
Just a note: margarine is never in my shopping bag, unless I’m making these cookies. This recipe originated at a time when margarine was all the rage and I have always used Country Crock Spreadable Sticks to make these cookies and suggest you do too. Years ago I tried using butter, but was not happy with the results.
Gumdrop Cookies (makes 2- 11″ or 12″ cookie cakes or 3 dozen cookies)
16 ounces gumdrops/fruit slices
1/3 cup sugar to coat gumdrops, plus 1 3/4 cup for dough
1 cup margarine (2 Country Crock sticks work best), softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
kitchen shears or a sharp knife
2 – 11″ round tart pan or 12″ round pizza pan (if making large cookies)
wire cooling rack
#30 or medium cookie scoop (for small cookies)
baking sheets (for small cookies)
Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut gumdrops into small pieces. Place cut gumdrop pieces in a small bowl filled with 1/3 cup sugar. Toss cut gumdrop pieces in the sugar. Remove from sugar and set aside.
Cream margarine and 1 3/4 cups sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and stir until mixture is lighter in color. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture just until blended. Do not over-mix. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make large cookies:
Cut two 11″ (or 12″) circles out of parchment paper and line your tart pans (or 12″ pizza pans.) Place half of the dough in each pan. Press dough evenly in pan.
Use one color gumdrop to write a personal message on your cookie. Sprinkle (or neatly arrange, as I did) a variety of colorful gumdrop pieces all over the cake.
Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown. Place on a wire cooling rack to cool. Once completely cool, remove from tart (or pizza) pan and set on a platter to serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days or wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to one month.
To make small cookies:
Pour about half of the cut up gumdrops into the bowl of dough. Stir until incorporated. Scoop out about 2 tablespoons of dough using a spoon or preferably an ice cream scoop.
These cookies do not flatten out in the oven, so you have to flatten them. You can, if you’d like, flatten them all using your hands or the bottom of a glass, but I’m going to share a little trick my brother devised many years ago. Place a piece of parchment over the tray of cookies. Set another baking sheet over the parchment paper. Press down on the baking sheet to flatten the cookies all at once.
Peel the top piece of parchment paper off of the cookies. Note: You can use the same piece of parchment for all your trays of cookies.
Then, if you want, and only if you really want pretty round cookies, use the edge of your hand to re-shape the cookies into nice rounds.
Use the remaining gumdrops to fill in the empty spaces on the cookies. Add a variety of colored gumdrop pieces to all of the cookies.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-12 minutes, just until the cookies look dry. The edges of the cookies can be just barely golden brown, but don’t allow them to really brown or the cookies will be dried out once cooled. Cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, then remove and place on a wire cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. They even taste great frozen.