Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

These festive spiral pinwheel cookies require a bit of effort and patience, but are a fun project. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the dough to chill, letting the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight in between steps (you can even make the cookies over a couple of days).

If raspberry extract isn’t available at your grocery store or you want a different flavor, just substitute out the same amount of your favorite extract, along with a corresponding food coloring.

  • Prep time: 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Chilling time: 4 hours
  • Yield: About 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  •  1 1/4 cup (250 g) white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (225 g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large eggs
  • 3 cups (420 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid red food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract

Method

1 Beat the butter and sugar: Place the sugar, butter, vanilla, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat the ingredients together until the batter is creamy, light in color, and clings to the side of the bowl, about 2 minutes on medium speed.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

2 Add the egg: Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the egg. Mix until incorporated.

3 Add the flour: Add the flour and mix it into the dough on low speed until no more streaks of flour remain.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

4 Divide and color the dough: Scrape the dough out onto a clean surface and divide in half. Set one half aside. Place the other half back in the bowl, and add the red food coloring and raspberry extract. Mix until incorporated and uniform in color.

Divide each half of the dough in half again – you should have 4 balls of dough, two plain and two raspberry. Roughly shape each ball into a square or rectangle, and tightly wrap each square in plastic wrap.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

5 Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, or up to a day, to let the dough firm.

6 Roll out the dough: Remove one piece of dough, unwrap it, and place on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. Place another piece of wax paper or parchment paper on top, and roll the dough into a 6 x 12 rectangle. If the dough is too hard to roll out, let it soften for a few minutes until it's easier to roll.

As you roll the dough, occasionally flip it over. If the parchment paper has become wrinkled, unpeel it from the dough and reapply (so you don't get wrinkles in your dough).

When done, transfer the rolled-out dough to a baking sheet, still sandwiched between sheets of paper. Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces of dough, stacking the sheets of dough on top of each other on the baking sheet.

7 Once all four pieces of dough are rolled out, place the cookie sheet with the dough in the freezer for 15 minutes. The dough should be firm, but not frozen through.

8 Sandwich together the vanilla and raspberry doughs: Remove one of the sheets of vanilla dough and one of the sheets of raspberry dough from the freezer. Peel back the top paper on both.

Carefully flip the raspberry dough onto the vanilla dough so they are sandwiched together (vanilla on bottom, raspberry on top – the colors are reversed in the photos below, but they'll give you the general idea!). Peel away the remaining paper from the raspberry dough.

Trim the edges so the two sheets of dough line up. Carefully roll the dough from the long edge to make a 12-inch long log of dough, peeling away the bottom layer of parchment as you go.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies Holiday Pinwheel Cookies Holiday Pinwheel Cookies Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

9 Repeat with remaining dough: Repeat this sandwiching and rolling process, but this time put the raspberry layer on the bottom so that when you roll the dough, the raspberry dough is on the outside.

10 Chill the logs of dough: Wrap each log of dough tightly in the parchment paper or plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. (Or freeze for up to a month.)

11 Heat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper or silicon baking mat.

12 Slice the cookies: Remove the chilled dough from the fridge. The bottom of the dough will be slightly flat from where it was resting in the fridge. To smooth this out, gently roll the log against the counter with your hands until the edges are smooth again.

Slice the dough into slice 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Place them the baking sheet about an inch apart.

Holiday Pinwheel Cookies Holiday Pinwheel Cookies

13 Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies start to brown ever so slightly on the edges.

Transfer baked cookies to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with slicing and baking the remaining dough. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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Comments

  • carol

    I think these cookies were really good. though at first the dough was definitely a little crumbly and hard to work with. I would also recommend rolling the dough out on plastic wrap, because since it is so crumbly you can you the wrap to roll it up. I added almond extract and it was so good. These cookies looked so cool but defiantly were a little harder to make than I though. Overall I would totally recommend this recipe!

  • Nancy

    Made these today. They filled my kitchen with the wonderful smell of raspberry. While they do take a bit of effort, the results are well worth it! Working with the dough was easy until the process of rolling into a log. It started to crack a little, however I was able to work the cracks out using my fingers and parchment paper. Can’t wait to include them on my Christmas cookie tray this year!! I was too impatient to freeze the dough and bake later. I’m hoping they freeze well after baking.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Leslie

    They are soooo good

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Reir

    We baked these today and these are awesome! The raspberry flavor is so nice. The dough did crack when I started rolling, but I managed to work through it by kneading slightly while rolling. Kids loved these, as did the adults, thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  • Mary

    I followed the recipe instructions, but when I tried to roll the dough, it cracked like crazy. I let the second one warm up a little in case I had left it in the freezer too long but that one also fell apart. How Can I fix this?

    • Irvin Lin

      Hi Mary, I’m so sorry they cracked on you! It’s possible that you added too much flour (sometimes when you measure flour, it gets packed into the measuring cups too much) or the eggs you used were a little on the smaller side. You could have also mixed the butter and sugar for too long, which can add additional air to the cookie.

      You can let the cookie dough come completely to room temperature and see if that helps. If it still cracking you can try kneading in 1 or 2 teaspoons of milk to make the dough more pliable. I hope this helps!

  • JOANNE THORNE

    Hi….made these wonderful cookies…just one question is the butter in America whiter than ours in the UK as your cookies looked so much better…..mines more yellow. ….taste great though !!!

    • Emma Christensen

      Yes, I think if you’re using a natural butter, it’s likely to be more yellow than the butter most of us use for baking in the US. Glad you liked the cookies!

  • Lindsey

    That garish red color does not look appetizing! Is there a way to color them naturally?

    • Irvin Lin

      Hi! You can always use less red food coloring than suggested, which will lead to a more pink color. Unfortunately red is one of those volatile colors and most natural red colors turn brown in the oven once baked.

      If you choose to go with a different flavor instead raspberry like lemon or mint, you can choose to go a natural coloring route like turmeric powder for the yellow or matcha green tea powder for the green. But red is one of the problematic difficult colors in baking.

  • Heide Fiscella

    Every Christmas I make something like this with chocolate and vanilla. So pretty and delicious! They do require patience, take your time!
    I add melted unsweetened chocolate and a spoonful of instant coffee. It makes the chocolate half a little stiffer and harder to roll, and prone to cracking when cold. I just let it warm up a bit more and go slow. Patience!

  • Sandy S.

    Hi Irvin! Who wouldn’t want these pretty cookies on their holiday cookie tray!?! So full of whimsy and they sound delicious. I have a couple questions. How thick should the layers be rolled out to? Thicker than for a pie crust? And if I freeze the rolls, can I cut and bake immediately or do the rolls need to go in the fridge to thaw first? Crossing my fingers that I can find some raspberry extract! Oh, and one last question. Any thoughts on making a chocolate layer?

    • Irvin Lin

      Hi! So you want to roll out the dough into a 6 x 12-inch rectangle, which ends up slightly thicker than a pie crust, maybe 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch thick? And if you do freeze the rolls, I would let them thaw a bit before cutting them, mostly because it’s really difficult to cut the dough frozen! But if you want to cut the dough ahead of time, and freeze them on a baking sheet, you can do that, and then bake directly from the freezer, just bake them an extra minute or two longer.

    • Irvin Lin

      Oh and as for the chocolate layer, you can try adding 1/4 cup of natural cocoa powder to half the dough instead of the raspberry extract and red food coloring. I haven’t tested this version, so I can’t guarantee it will work but if you try it out, come back and let me know what you think!

      • Sandy S.

        Irvin, thank you for the replies! All good info. I was thinking of making your cookies and also making a chocolate and raspberry cookie. But, I can’t find any raspberry extract locally. But no worries, I will get some before Christmas and make them then. Mean time I’m thinking of making a chocolate and vanilla/rum extract swirl as an experiment.