Holiday pinwheel cookies look stunning, but they may be frustrating to make. Here's an easy variation that only requires you to stack different color doughs and then roll. They look just as interesting, are fun to eat, and keep for up to 10 days, making them perfect for shipping to Aunt Clara across the country.

Makes about 12 dozen cookies


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. peppermint extract
  • 2 to 3 drops red food coloring
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted


In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix for another minute or two, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Add the flour mixture and mix again until blended.

Divide the dough into thirds and place each portion in a separate bowl. Mix the peppermint extract and a few drops of the red food coloring into the dough in one bowl. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla to the dough in each of the remaining two bowls and mix until blended. Mix the cocoa powder into one of the vanilla-flavored doughs. In the end, you should have three doughs: one red, one white and one brown. Wrap all three doughs separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking liners; set aside.

Remove the doughs from the refrigerator and divide each color dough in half. Using a rolling pin, roll each of the six dough sections into a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick, using extra flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Start with one chocolate layer on the bottom and stack one each of the vanilla dough and then the peppermint dough on top. Repeat with the other three circles to make a separate stack. Refrigerate the two layered stacks for 15 minutes.

Roll each layered dough stack to a 1/4-inch thickness, pressing the three colors together. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies as close together as possible. Discard the scraps. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake until the edges begin to brown, 6 to 7 minutes.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Stack the cookies in cellophane bags and tie with a festive ribbon.

From The Flying Brownie by Shirley Fan (The Harvard Common Press, 2013).

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