Half the thrill of making these whirligig cookies is just enjoying (or abusing) the name "whirligig." The word, however nonsensical, implies a sense of fun and whimsy, and that is perhaps the best way to describe these cookies—fun and whimsical. Essentially, the cookie is a rich peanut-buttery layer slathered with a liberal amount of dark chocolate; then the entire thing is rolled up into a log and sliced into generously portioned cookies. The end result: a cookie with overlapping layers of peanut butter and dark chocolate nirvana.

Makes 25 to 30 cookies


For the Peanut Butter Dough:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 ounces (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cool but not cold
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil (preferably canola)
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Filling:
  • 12 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup


Whirligig cookies are supposed to have personality. This means every slice might be different—like snowflakes—with some swirls misbehaving and acting out. You can absolutely use our suggestion in the directions below (to use your fingers to reshape some of the slices) but you shouldn’t be too obsessed with making the Most Beautiful Cookie on Earth. Remember, whirligigs are fun and whimsical.

Make the Peanut Butter Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, oil and peanut butter on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla, beating until incorporated.

Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and add half of the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated; do not overmix. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Transfer the dough to a cool, lightly floured work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap the dough in parchment paper, then in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 3 hours. The dough can be made a day ahead and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Flour a rolling pin. Line a work surface with a piece of parchment paper about 14" long, dust the parchment with a sprinkling of flour, divide the disk of dough in half, and roll out one half directly on the parchment into a rectangle about 9 1/2" long by 7 1/2" wide and just under half an inch thick. If the dough is too thin, it will be extremely difficult to roll up. Transfer the dough, keeping it on the parchment, to the refrigerator to firm up. Repeat the rolling process for the second half of the disk and refrigerate.

Make the Chocolate Filling: While the dough is chilling, melt the chocolate and corn syrup in a microwave or double boiler. Whisk until smooth, then set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Assemble the roll: Remove one sheet of dough from the refrigerator. Dip a pastry brush in the chocolate and brush the top surface of the dough almost to the edge. Make sure the chocolate coverage is good and hearty, but leave a half-inch strip with no chocolate on one of the long sides of the rectangle and double up the chocolate on the opposite long side—this will be the center of the cookie. (Alternatively, drizzle some of the chocolate mixture on the dough and use the back of a spoon to spread into an even layer.) Using the parchment paper to help you, slowly roll the dough into a log, starting from the long side of the rectangle that has double chocolate. (The paper should not be inside the log but used as a tool to help create the log.) Once the dough is rolled, keep it wrapped in the paper, then wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate. Repeat this process with the second sheet of dough. Chill the logs for at least 3 hours, or up to 24 hours, until the logs feel very solid; if they do not feel solid, they probably need to be refrigerated for a few hours longer.

Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Unwrap the logs and place on a cutting surface. Dip a knife in very hot water and cut the log into individual cookies, 1/2" to 3/4" thick, and place on the prepared baking sheets. If they get a tiny bit disfigured in the cutting process, you can use your fingers to reshape the cookies slightly; if the chocolate breaks or spills out, you can gently push it back in place.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Do not overbake these cookies—remove them from the oven the second they start to brown. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely.

Whirligigs can be stored at room temperature, tightly covered, for up to 2 days.

From Baked Elements: Our 10 Favorite Ingredients (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

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