Pinwheel Cookie Tutorial

This Pinwheel Cookie taste as good as it looks. A spiral cookie, alternating chocolate and vanilla cookie dough that was rolled into a log, cut and baked until almost the edge is golden brown. This Pinwheel cookie is one of the my favorite cookie to make during the Holiday season. It looks so elegant and beautiful, perfect for packaging and gifting. It takes more work that the usual chocolate chip cookie or short bread cookie, but once you are able to make it and taste it, it is all worth the effort and time. The cookie has almost like a shortbread texture, only bit more lighter, it is buttery, creamy and a good blend of chocolate and vanilla flavor in one. As I always say, ‘Why choose 1 when you can have both?”. Since this cookie requires more preparation and work, I have created a more detailed, step by step instructions below, with photo. I am hoping that this will inspire you to make it and give it a try.

Chocolate Vanilla Pinwheel Cookie

When You Plan Ahead, It’s All Worth It

Honesty is the best policy, so I’m going to be straight forward on this before we start. This cookie requires a little bit more time to make as compared to regular cookies that you can make in 45 minutes or less. When you scroll down to see the step, you might get intimidated and immediately decide to abandon the thought of making it. I’ve been there, I had the same reaction before but the fun and attractive look of this cookie made me decide to give it a try. What I’m saying is plan ahead when you make this cookie. This is not a cookie that you make when you have a guest arriving in 1 hour. This is the kind of cookie that you make ahead of time, store in the fridge and bake when needed. It’s basically a slice and bake cookie, which requires longer time of chilling before baking. The chilling process helps the dough to be stable and shapeable and also helps retain the shape while it bakes. So if you want to truly appreciate the process of making this, and to fully appreciate the fruits of your labor, plan ahead. You need time to make this, but once you get the hang of this, you’ll be able to make it faster the usual.

Holiday Baking Inspirations Videos:

Checkout my video collection of cookies and other treats that are great for holiday gift giving or for everyday baking. All the recipes can be found in my website. Enjoy!

Challenges to Expect in Making This Cookie

The batter of the cookie is simple to make, it’s basically just mixing the ingredients together. That’s the easy part of the process. The real challenge is the part when you have to roll and measure the dough into approximately 7×7 inch square. This step is critical because you want each portion to have almost the same size so that they match end to end when you overlap the vanilla and chocolate batter. If one portion is larger, just trim it with a sharp knife so that they are even when you start rolling it. The second challenging step is the rolling part, but it’s only challenging the first time you make it. Remember, this yields 3 logs, so you will have to roll 3 times. By the second time, you should be more comfortable doing it. Once you get past these 2 challenges, every thing else is easy breezy, how hard could it be to but the log anyway? So just be patient when you are in these 2 stages, got it?

Bsic Pinwheel Cookie

Why You Should Give This Cookie a Chance

This cookie taste good as it looks. I am always guilty of being attracted to beautifully decorated desserts and that’s also the reason why I personally like making the presentation of my food beautiful. More than the taste, it is first the appearance that caught our attention when it comes to food. I guess this is the reason why I was inspired and determined to make the pinwheel cookies. It’s beautiful, and the spiral design of the cookie looks so mesmerizing to me. It always made me wonder how they were made to look like this. I don’t have to wonder anymore, in fact today I am sharing with you a step by step tutorial on how to make them.

Pinwheel Cookie

As I mentioned above, it does have more additional step as compared to easy to make Chocolate Chip Cookies. You just need to plan ahead when you make it so that you are not rush and pressured. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not as difficult.  The extra work and wait was totally worth it, you can take my word for that. Once you see how it looks like when its rolled, you will be excited to cut it to see the spiral effect of the vanilla and chocolate dough layers. Then once you see how beautiful it is when it has been cut, you would be excited to bake it, then you will be dancing and pacing around for it to come out of the oven. Then once its out of the oven, you would want to get your hands on it and just eat it. Once you’ve tasted the fruits of your labor, you will be VERY proud of yourself for making this cookie, then you will be looking forward to serve this to your friends. I went through all this phases every time I made this cookie, and every time it always felt like the first time.

Pinwheel Cookie

I can never get enough of the excitement of making this cookie. This cookie has a buttery, creamy and chocolate flavor. The texture is smooth, kind of like a shortbread cookie but it has more crunch and “snap” on it when you break it. It’s not too sweet for my taste, and it’s addictive if I may say. It’s worth the extra effort required to make this cookie. Let me walk you through the steps so that you can start planning on when to make this. Let’s get started!

Chocolate Vanilla Pinwheel Cookie Recipe


  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon table Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 oz. (1-1/4 cups) unsalted Butter, slightly  softened
  • 1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp granulated White Sugar
  • 1 large Egg (room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant Espresso Powder – optional
  • 3 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 oz. bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Make the Cookie Dough:

  1. Dry Ingredients: Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Wet Ingredients: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-low speed until smooth, about 2 min. Add the sugar in a steady stream and mix for another 2 min. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
  3. Dry Ingredients + Wet Ingredients: Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just until combined.
  4. Divide the batter: Remove 2 cups less 2  tbsp of the dough for the chocolate portion( about 510g). There should be more chocolate dough than vanilla dough because we are adding melted chocolate in it. Set aside the remaining dough for the vanilla portion of the cookie (about 475g).
  5. Make the chocolate dough: Mix the espresso and cocoa powder into chocolate dough portion (the 2 cups less 2 tbsp dough). Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the warm melted chocolate and mix just until thoroughly combined. If your dough is too soft and sticky, add 1-2 tbsp more flour and chill in the fridge until you are able to handle it for shaping.

Divide and Shape the Dough:

  1. Divide the dough: Divide the vanilla dough and chocolate dough into three equal pieces. (For accuracy, use a scale.), you should end up with 6 pieces in total. Cover with cling wrap and store it in the fridge until firm and you are able to handle it for shaping, about 1 hour.
  2. Shape and Chill the dough:  Cut 6 pieces of parchment paper about 10×10-inch. Transfer each portion of the dough into the parchment paper and cover it with another parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, shape each piece into a 7×7-inch square.
  3. Chill: Without removing the parchment paper, return in the refrigerator and chill for another 15 minutes.

Layer and Roll the Cookie Dough:

  1. Layer the cookie dough: To layer the cookies, remove one square of the vanilla dough and one square of the chocolate dough and peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from each. Invert the chocolate square over the vanilla square (or vanilla can go on top of chocolate; try some of each for variety. Note that the consistency of the chocolate dough is softer than vanilla, so it will spread more when it bakes), taking care to align the two layers as evenly as possible. Cover the top with parchment paper. Using your rolling pin, gently roll over the dough to seal the layers together. Peel off the top layer of waxed paper once done.
  2. Roll the cookie dough: Starting with the edge of the dough closest to you, carefully curl the edge of the dough up and over with your fingertips, so no space is visible in the center of the pinwheel. Roll as tight as possible. Using the waxed paper as an aid, continue rolling the dough into a tight cylinder. After the cylinder is formed, roll it back and forth on the counter to slightly elongate it and compact it.
  3. Wrap the cookie dough: Transfer the log to the plastic wrap, centering it on the long edge closest to you. Roll tightly, twisting the ends of the plastic firmly to seal. With your hands on either end of the log, push firmly toward the center to compact the dough. It should be about 9 inches long and 1-1/2  inches thick (doesn’t have to be exact) Repeat with remaining dough. A shorter log means a wider cookie.
  4. Chill the dough: Refrigerate the logs until firm enough to slice, about 3  hours or overnight. The dough can be freeze for up to three months.

Important Note: The consistency and texture of chocolate is going to be softer than vanilla dough because of the addition of melted chocolate. The dough will be more sticky and will spread more and will have thin crispy edge when it bakes. This is why I prefer having the vanilla as the outer layer and the chocolate the inner layer, although I do variation from time to time. If you want to reduce the stickiness of the chocolate dough, add bit more flour about 1 tablsepoon just make sure to mix it well to incoporate.

Slice and Bake the Cookie:

Basic Choclolate Vanilla Pinwheel Cookie
  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. Pre-heat oven: Heat the oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  3. Slice the dough: Working with one log at a time, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to slice the dough into 3-inch rounds. Set the rounds about 1 inch apart on the prepared pans and bake until the tops of the cookies feel set and the edge is crunchy
  4. Bake: Bake for 13-15 min  (don’t let the edges become too brown). To ensure even browning, rotate the sheets as needed during baking. Let the baked cookies stand for 1 minute on the pan. While they’re still warm, use a thin metal spatula to transfer them to racks. If you want it to be crunchy and slightly dry, let the cookie remain in the oven for another 2 -3 minutes after baking time.
  5. Cool: When cool, store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container for up to two weeks, or freeze for up to three months.

How to freeze baked and unbaked cookie

I created a separate post that discusses How to Freeze Cookie Dough. Check it out as it covers the basic information that you  need to know, and they are very handy. The post covers briefly the following:

  • Why freeze cookie dough?
  • What kind of cookies are best for freezing?
  • What are the cookies to avoid freezing
  • How long can you freeze a cookie dough?
  • Freezing baked cookies
  • How to freeze cookie dough?
  • Baking Frozen Cookie dough
  • Freezing decorated cookies
Basic Pinwheel Cookie Recipe

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