I had given up on cut-out sugar cookies from scratch. For years, I had resorted to a cookie mix. It was fast and easy, and the store-bought mix turned out perfectly.
Lightly golden bases, soft interiors, with the perfect balance of butter and sugar, and just a hint of salt. I had never gotten results like that from a homemade sugar cookie. They all seemed to miss either on flavor or texture. Most of them were either too dry or too bland.
Then I found it. The perfect sugar cookie from scratch.
This recipe has the perfect flavor and texture.
I meant to decorate them, but they were so good just as they were! Lightly sweet and full of buttery goodness. No icing necessary.
I’m always hoping I’ll stumble onto baking gold that is worth writing out a recipe card. My recipe box is only so big, and therefore, only worthy of the keeper recipes. This is one of those.
A keeper recipe.
Worth the time and space to write and store on an actual card. None of this Pinterest nonsense for saving the important recipes. If my internet fails me, I want to have complete, unhindered access to my favorite recipes. (If you’re reading, Pinterest, I still love you. I discover so many favorite recipes with your help, truly I do. But you do rely on working internet.) And when the internet is finicky, I need a hard copy recipe. No cookie baking (or dinner making, for that matter), should be thwarted by finicky internet.
After I baked this recipe the first time, I learned two things:
First, this was going on a recipe card.
Second, these cookies are versatile.
The dough is fully capable of baking light, melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies, perfect for cut-outs to ice and decorate. That is if you decide to decorate… and have the self-control not to gobble them all up before you decorate. 😉
But this dough can also yield deliciously crisp cookies. If left in the oven in a little too long, they develop a glorious crunch. They snap when you bite into them, in the most mouth-watering way. With every bite you think, “How interesting! I must have another bite to decide what I’m really tasting and whether I really like it.”
Ten crisp cookies later, you write out the recipe for your recipe box. 🙂
I was so enamored with this dough that I decided to make pinwheel cookies from it. The sugar cookie dough was an adaption of a chocolate dough on the same site. Given the phenomenal results of the vanilla version, I wanted to make the chocolate and swirl them together.
Both of these recipes are by Georganne at lilaloa.com. If you like to decorate cookies, you really should spend some browsing time on her site. She has posted a ton of intricately decorated cookies for all occasions with instructions for making them. And if you don’t decorate your cookies (or you stick mostly to a slathering of icing with some sprinkles)? Check it out anyway just to enjoy some great cookie art. 🙂
Onto the pinwheels…
I have tried to make pinwheel cookies before (with the previously mentioned cookie mix). They usually have about one swirl, maybe one and a half swirls, if I’m lucky. Then the dough splits apart along the attempted spiral in the oven leaving gaps in the cookie.
Sure, they still tasted good. But this time, I wanted the pinwheels to look as delicious as they taste. I’ve picked up a few tips on working with and shaping dough from baking and cooking shows (and, of course, my own mistakes!), so I took great care in the shaping process, and it paid off! Here’s how I did it.
Tips for Pinwheel Cookies
Yes, it’s a lot of steps. But beautiful, scrumptious pinwheels are worth it!
- Make two batches of delicious cookie dough and chill. I used the vanilla and chocolate cookie recipes linked above.
- Roll each kind of dough into a thin and large rectangle, making the different doughs about the same size. (If the dough is too hard to work with, let it sit out a few minutes and try again.) I rolled them each roughly 1/8 inch thick, which made slightly larger rectangles than my 11×17 baking dish. If you like thicker spirals, you can aim for 1/4 inch.
- Use a lot of flour while rolling to prevent sticking. I flipped my dough once or twice before it got too big so I could re-flour the counter.
- After rolling the dough out, use a pastry brush to sweep the excess flour off the top of each of the doughs. This prevents drying out while baking, and it helps the different doughs stick together better when stacked and rolled.
- Again using a pastry brush, brush water on top of the vanilla dough. This also helps bind the chocolate dough to the vanilla.
- Carefully place the chocolate dough on top of the vanilla dough. To keep it from falling apart during this step, I used my rolling pin, wrapping the chocolate dough carefully around the rolling pin, then unrolling it on top of the vanilla dough.
- Roll the two doughs out just a little more to help them bind together. Trim all sides of the rectangle into straight edges. Squish up the scrap dough into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. Store them in the fridge to roll out some fun marbled cookies later with the kids (or yourself… 😉).
- Brush water on top of the chocolate dough. (I didn’t do this, but I will next time to help bond the doughs together even more while rolling up. It’s all about preventing gaps and keeping the cookies from breaking apart along the swirl while they bake.)
- Gently roll up the double dough, starting with the long side. Try to keep it a tight roll for that close spiral.
- Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for at least several hours.
- Preheat the oven according to the recipe.
- Slice pinwheels to desired thickness and bake as directed. Personally, I love them thin and crisp… I’m salivating now… but if you slice them a little thicker and don’t over bake, they’ll be beautifully soft.
These were a scrumptious success! The vanilla and chocolate blended well together, almost like a swirled ice cream cone… except in cookie form… 🙂 Speaking of ice cream, these would be SO good crumbled on top of ice cream! Oh the possibilities… another batch of these cookies is in my near future!
Wishing you a scrumptious day!