These pinwheel cookies are stylish, traditional, chocolaty and filled with chocolate and vanilla aroma. These pinwheel cookies are soft, chewy, delicious, easy to make and would impress the friends and family alike. Like chocolate? Try my Chocolate Covered Pecans, Condensed Milk Brownies, Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake, Coca Cola Cake and Authentic Dark Chocolate Cake.
These cookies may look fancy and you may think you will need skills to put it together but it is just a matter of one simple dough and some patience. By following some easy steps you can put these cookies together quite easily.
These icebox cookies will grace any formal event or the regular tea sessions at home, just like my Butter Pecan Cookies, Orange Shortbread Cookies and Nankhatai recipes.
Table of Contents
Why This Recipe Works?
- These cookies are very aromatic, delicious and filled with chocolate.
- The slice-and-bake cookies with swirls look fancy and beautiful.
- It is one of the vintage cookies that I acquired from my mother's recipe collection.
- You only need one dough to bake these cookies.
- The recipe requires a little bit of patience as you will have to refrigerate the dough and then work on it.
- These icebox cookies will grace any formal event or the regular tea sessions at home, just like my Butter Pecan Cookies, Orange Shortbread Cookies and Nankhatai recipes.
- Great cookies for holidays and festivals.
The Origin of Pinwheel Cookies
The pinwheel cookies first originated in the 1930’s during the Depression Era decade. It was a time when many other icebox cookies also originated and started trending America wide. One possible reason is that the inflation forced people to get creative using simple and affordable ingredients in the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash. My Peanut Butter Bread recipe from the era is one such example.
Pro Tip # 1 - Room Temperature Ingredients
Always use room temperature ingredients (unless otherwise specified) for baking. Ingredients such as butter, eggs and other dairy ingredients like milk, sour cream, yogurt form an emulsion by trapping air inside the batter. The trapped air expands in the oven resulting in perfect baked treats.
- All-Purpose Flour: helps with the structure of these cookies.
- Baking Powder: leavening agent in these cookies.
- Unsweetened Chocolate Bars: gives rich chocolate flavor and dark chocolate color in the swirls.
- Vanilla Extract: gives aroma.
- Unsalted Butter: use high quality unsalted butter.
- Eggs: helps with binding the dough.
- Castor Sugar: sweetens the cookies.
- Salt: balances the sugar and enhances the overall flavor.
Pro Tip # 2 - Digital Scale
Use a digital scale to measure all-purpose flour and other dry ingredients. To measure with cup, fluff up the all-purpose flour container using a spoon, then scoop out the flour with spoon into the measuring cup. Never scoop out of the container. It may result in more flour than required resulting in dense bakes.
Unsweetened Chocolate VS. Cocoa Powder
I prefer to use the unsweetened chocolate bars (or baking chocolate) over the cocoa powder for this recipe and I will explain why.
- Fat in Cocoa: The unsweetened chocolate blocks are a combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. However, the cocoa powder contains only cocoa solids and there is no cocoa butter. The additional fat in the unsweetened Chocolate helps to keep the cookies moist because it develops shorter gluten strands resulting in a tender, chewy and crisp cookies.
- Difference in Hue: The hue of chocolate is darker in unsweetened chocolate while the cocoa powder in comparison has a lighter dimmed tone and less concentrated chocolate flavor as well. I prefer darker chocolate hue in the cookies.
These are basic process shots for this recipe. For detailed instructions refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until the butter is pale in color. Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir until mixed.
2. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a soft dough is formed.
3. Divide the dough in half.
4. Melt the unsweetened chocolate in microwave in 15 seconds increments until completely melted.
5. Roll the dough in rectangular shape 8’’ x 8’’ (see picture) and let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
6. Lightly flour the wooden surface and roll the vanilla dough until you get ½ inch thickness.
7. Roll the chocolate dough as well.
8. Gently place the plain vanilla dough over the chocolate dough. Cut the unequal sides until you get a rectangle of 10’’ length and 9’’ width.
9. Do not discard the sides and form them into swirl cookies as well.
10. Gently roll the dough in a tight jelly-roll log. Cover in a plastic wrap tightly twisting the sides.
11. Place the roll in the fridge again for another 30 minutes. Using a sharp knife cut the log into pieces.
12. Bake the cookies 8 – 10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
- Mixing bowls.
- Electric beater.
- Silicone mats.
- Baking trays.
- Plastic wrap.
- Rolling pin.
- Digital scale.
- Measuring cups and spoons.
- Dates: Dates filled cookies make great pinwheel cookies. Make a date paste from 1 ½ cup dates (pitted and chopped) add sugar and nuts (pecans or walnuts) and spread over the dough.
- Jam: These cookies work great with jam as well. Try them with Strawberry Jam or Raspberry Jam. Simply add a thin layer of the jam over the rolled out dough and form a log, cut slices and voila.
- Coconut: If you like coconut, add desiccated coconut in the dough or roll over the log on coconut flakes. For more stronger coconut flavor, add coconut extract in the dough.
- Pumpkin: Use a pumpkin filling to make the Pumpkin Pinwheel Cookies.
- Peppermint: Use peppermint candies to the Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies to give color and crunch.
- Don’t Skip Chilling: For the recipe to work, you will need to chill the dough twice. If you are short on time you can skip on chilling the second time before cutting the cookies slices. But DO NOT skip the chilling first time.
- Sticky Dough: If your dough is sticky, try adding one tablespoon flour at a time until the dough is not sticking to your fingers anymore.
- Cracks: If you see cracks while rolling the dough in jelly-roll style log, just leave it for about 3 – 5 minute to let the dough come to room temperature. The cold dough will crack more and the dough at room temperature will be easy to handle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes – they will spread a little bit during baking because we are using baking powder as a leavening agent in this recipe.
Yes. Prepare the dough and put in freezer for up to 3 months. When you want to bake the cookies, take out the dough and keep on the counter for about 15 – 20 minute, cut slices and bake. You can also keep the dough in fridge for about a week as well.
Do not throw away the trimmed edges of the dough while forming the log. Roll them into swirl cookies or press them to form marble cookies (see above picture 9 (b) in step by step instructions). You will get more cookies and will not wastes any bit of the dough.
How to Store
- Store these cookies in an air-tight jar for up to 2 weeks. Add a slice of bread in the air-tight jar to keep them moist and soft.
- These cookies will stay fresh in an air-tight jar in refrigerator for up to a month.
- Wrap these cookies in a plastic cling and add a layer of foil. Stash them in a Zip-loc bag for up to 3 months in the freezer.
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- hand or electric mixer
- Mixing bowls
- Baking Tray
- Rolling Pin
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 g)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (227 g)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (4 g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cup castor sugar (300 g)
- 2 eggs (large)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 g)
- ¼ cup unsweetened chocolate (57 g)
- Preheat the oven to 375 F.
- Take a bowl and sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk and set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until the butter is pale in color.
- Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir until mixed.
- Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a soft dough is formed.
- Divide the dough in half.
- Melt the unsweetened chocolate in microwave in 15 seconds increments until completely melted.
- Using a rolling pin, roll both the doughs in rectangular shape 8’’ x 8’’(see picture) and chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Lightly flour the wooden surface and roll each dough until you get ½ inch thickness.
- Gently place the plain dough on top of the chocolate dough. Cut the unequal sides and you should get a rectangle of about 10’’ length and 9’’ width.
- Gently roll the overlapping doughs and press to form a jelly-roll log. Cover in a plastic wrap and tightly wrap it.
- Place the roll in the fridge again for another 30 minutes. Using a sharp knife cut the log into pieces.
- Bake the cookies 8 – 10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.