I have to admit, rolling out dough is not one of my favorite things to do. I don’t think it’s something I’m good at, therefore I don’t do it often and probably the cycle continues because I don’t practice. I feel like the dough always gets torn or stuck to the rolling pin. My cookies never come up easily (I probably don’t use enough flour) and I end up frustrated. So the fact that I’m sharing with you these Christmas pinwheel cookies has to be some sort of testament.
The recipe is a pared down version of my Christmas Sugar Cookies, where the dough is separated and dyed. These cookies look much fancier to make than they are. You can get cool points when you share them, while knowing they were probably less work than traditional cut out sugar cookies. Win-win!
After you make your dough, you divide it into 3 portions. You could do two if you want just red and green, or white and red, etc. Stir in the food coloring, chill the dough. I know it’s everyone’s least favorite step but it is necessary. Roll our your dough, stack, roll into a log, cover with sprinkles (optional but fun), and chill again. When you’re ready to bake, slice and go!
When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven before pulling the dough out. The dough slices easily even when cold, and the cookies will spread less and maintain shape better when baked from chilled. I personally slice the whole log, put some on to bake and put the rest back in the fridge between batches.
I recommend using gel food dye to color the dough. Gel food dye is much more concentrated so you will use far less dye, get more vibrant color, and you don’t run the risk of adding too much liquid and changing the consistency of the dough. This set is the one I have, but any gel based kind should work.
I recommend nonpareils sprinkles if you are going to adorn the edges with them. This type of sprinkle will not melt and holds it’s shape when baked.
Christmas Pinwheel Cookies Key Ingredients
- Butter – When it comes to certain cookies, butter plays a larger role in flavor than others. For these cookies I urge you to get the best butter you can. Butter with a higher butterfat is what I make them with, and I feel there is a subtle but noticeable flavor difference. These will be delicious and bake up beautifully with cheap store brand butter, but if you can, splurge.
- Granulated sugar – Granulated sugar helps these cookies crisp up on the edges and doesn’t impart any flavor other than sweetness or any color to the dough.
- Vanilla – I do measure vanilla when I’m recipe testing, however, when I bake for myself I rarely measure and probably add more than what is called for 90% of the time. That being said, my original cookie recipe this is made from uses orange zest and cinnamon in addition to vanilla. The vanilla could be swapped for almond or lemon or orange extract. Whatever flavor you’d like.
- 226 g Unsalted butter 1 cup, room temperature
- 135 g Granulated sugar ⅔ cup
- 1 large Egg room temperature
- 1 tsp Sea salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 300 g AP Flour 2½ cup
- Gel food coloring, red & green
- ⅓ cup Nonpareil sprinkles
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, or a medium-large bowl with your hand mixer, cream together your butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add your egg and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
- Add salt and flour and stir together until just combined.
- Divide your dough into 3 equal portions in smaller bowls.
- Add green food coloring to one and red to another, leaving the third. Mix until dough is adequately colored to your liking. I used about 3-5 drops of color in each.
- Flatten each bowl of dough into a small disc, and wrap tightly with cling wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
- After chilling, remove dough lightly flour and roll out dough into approximately a 7 inch by 9 inch rectangle. The dough should be somewhere between ¼ and ⅛ inch thick. I found this easiest to do on parchment paper on top of a silicone mat so the parchment doesn't slide.
- After each piece of dough is rolled out, stack the three rectangles. I chose to have white dough in the center, and green to be the outer dough but it's completely personal preference and makes no difference.
- Roll the dough into a spiral log like you would cinnamon roll dough, on the long edge.
- Dump your sprinkles into a platter or cookie sheet and place the dough log into it and gently roll it to coat the sides with sprinkles.
- Wrap your cookie dough in cling wrap tightly and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour. I generally chill mine overnight.
- When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350°F. Wait until your oven is completely ready before taking the dough out. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Take your dough out and slice your cookies. They can be as thin or thick as you'd like, but I sliced mine at about ¼" thick, which is what bake time is based off of.
- Any cookies not being placed onto the cookie sheet to bake immediately should be placed back in the refrigerator between batches.
- Place sliced cookies on your cookie sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes on the center rack of your oven. If you have a color other than the white dough on the outside you won't be able to tell any browning, but the top of the cookies should look set and no longer have a sheen.
- Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a wire cooling rack.
- Store cookies in an airtight container for up to a week. Enjoy!