Both of my parents learned very important lessons while I was making these cookies. Let’s start with my mother.
Before commencing the annual Cookie Baking Extravaganza this year, my mom and I sat down together and planned out which cookies we wanted to make. Some were old standby classics. Others were brand new recipes that we had never tried before. We prioritized, scheduled, and planned the cookie baking. We also broke that plan the very first day. But the conflicting importance of scheduling and abandoning the schedule is not the lesson learned. It’s the just long, unnecessary backstory to why we were making Pinwheel Cookies. These were Mom’s first pick for new recipes.
The first batch we attempted came out beautifully. The dough was a little stubborn and time-consuming to work with, but we made it work. The pinwheel pattern was adorable and perfect! The cookies were a little soft but still held their little sliced shapes, exactly as we wanted them too. And though they may have been simple sugar cookies, they brought back wonderful childhood memories because they taste exactly like those Pillsbury Slice and Bake cookies with the fun holiday patterns in the middle! We packaged some up, put the rest in the freezer, and parted ways for the night happy and fulfilled.
The next night, I was at a Christmas party when I got a devastating phone call. When my mom opened the freezer, the plastic Gladware that held those precious cookies fell to the kitchen floor and broke apart! The thin plastic when frozen became so brittle that falling from the shelf shattered it like glass. All the cookies spilled out onto the floor and were at the mercy of the rapid consuming skills of a four year old golden retriever. None survived, and as I hadn’t photographed the cookies yet, I had no choice but to remake the cookies. Lesson #1: Always store frozen baked goods in freezer-safe Ziploc bags.
Which brings us to Dad’s lesson, learned the morning after the Christmas party when I dragged myself out of bed and to my parents’ house at dawn to remake the cookies before my cousin came over with her daughters. I’d made the cookies before, so it was natural to assume that they would be just as simple as before. Never assume. The dough, though it tasted the same, was sticking to everything I tried to roll it out with regardless of how much flour I used on the surfaces. The wax paper wouldn’t stay stationary on the counter so I couldn’t even roll out the dough. Within minutes of beginning to work with the dough, even after chilling it, it was quite literally melting everywhere, dripping from my hands as I tried to pick it up to salvage. I lost it. Some words I’m not proud of were yelled at cookie dough that morning. A ball of wax paper might have been thrown violently into the trash can. And as I stood at the counter, almost in tears over these previously simple cookies, my dad looked at me and said, “I didn’t realize baking could be so stressful.” Lesson #2: Baking can be that stressful. Lesson #2.1: Watch who is in the room when you start cursing out cookie dough because people might think you are psycho.
Eventually, I got the cookies to cooperate begrudgingly and they came out as perfect as the original batch. Which I stored in freezer-safe Ziploc bags.
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- red or green liquid food coloring
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract thoroughly.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend into the butter mixture in two parts, beating until fully incorporated. Divide dough in two equal amounts. Put one part aside.
With the half of the dough remaining in the mixer, mix with the food coloring until dough has reached desired shade.
Line a baking surface with wax paper. Flour the paper and a rolling pin (this dough can be extremely sticky). Turn out the plain colored dough onto the surface. Roll the dough into an 8×15 rectangle (as close as you can get).
On a second wax-paper lined surface, repeat with the colored dough, trying to make the two rectangles even in size and thickness.
Lay the colored rectangle over the plain. Roll the layers of dough together (no need to remove the wax paper yet) until about 3/16” thick. Peel back the top layer of wax paper. Trim the sides of the rectangles so they are straight and even. Carefully roll the dough up tightly from the longer side so you have a 15” roll of dough. Keep roll wrapped in wax paper and freeze for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the frozen dough into 1/8-1/4” rounds (according to preference). Bake for 8-10 minutes until the edges are just barely turning golden. Remove immediately to cool on a wire rack.