Up for some stylish and tasty cookies? Try my old-fashioned chocolate pinwheel swirl cookies. They are soft, chewy, delicious, easy to make and would impress the friends and family alike.
I love chocolate and I love cookies and I love incorporating chocolate in my bakes. Today I am sharing my super easy and addictive chocolate pinwheel cookies (aka swirl cookies). Anyone with a little bit of baking experience can put it together without much effort. I make them frequently and everyone around me likes 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.
All you need is a few simple ingredients and a simple method to follow. Just be a little patient with the chilling of the dough in the refrigerator. And guess what, if you are short on time, you can make the dough and either refrigerate or freeze it to ensure to have fresh batches of cookies any time of the year.
Table of Contents
Why This Recipe Works?
I always feel nostalgic when I bake these vintage cookies recipe as it brings back the sweet childhood memories when my mom would bake large batches of swirl cookies. I always thought she had a magic in her hands and how was it even possible that we can have vanilla and chocolate swirls in a cookie? The truth was those pinwheel cookies were truly magical as they were gone in a jiffy in our house, doesn’t matter how large the batch was.
Interestingly, the magic part still holds true for me. These cookies are still magical and gone in our house the same way. The cookies might look daunting and complicated at first but by following a few easy techniques you can get the best results. (Refer to the step-by-step section below with pictures for reference.)
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. I believe people were getting creative using simple and affordable ingredients to cook and bake things in the aftermath of the 1929 stock market crash.
My Peanut Butter Bread recipe from the era is one such example.
While I like to keep this recipe simple with chocolate and vanilla, there are several other ways you can try this recipe with.
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.
You need some simple and readily available staple ingredients to bake these cookies.
Unsweetened Chocolate VS Cocoa Powder
I prefer to use the unsweetened chocolate (or baking chocolate) over the cocoa powder for this recipe and I will explain why. The unsweetened chocolate blocks are a combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. However, the cocoa powder contains just 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.
Also, the hue of chocolate will be darker with unsweetened chocolate and if you use cocoa powder the chocolate will have a lighter tone with a dimmed and less concentrated chocolate flavor as well. My preference is darker chocolate hue in the cookies.
Step 1: Take a bowl and sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk and set aside.
Step 2: In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until the butter is pale in color.
Step 3: Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir until mixed.
Step 4: Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a soft dough is formed.
Step 5: Divide the dough in half.
Step 6: Melt the unsweetened chocolate in microwave in 15 seconds increments until completely melted.
Step 7: Using a rolling pin, roll both the doughs in rectangular shape 8’’ x 8’’ (see picture) and let it chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Step 8: Lightly flour the wooden surface and roll each dough until you get ½ inch thickness.
Step 9: Gently place the plain vanilla dough over the chocolate dough. Cut the unequal sides and you should get a rectangle of about 10’’ length and 9’’ width.
Step 10: Now gently roll the dough in a tight jelly-roll log. Cover in a plastic wrap tightly twisting the sides.
Step 11: Place the roll in the fridge again for another 30 minutes. Then, using a sharp knife cut the log into pieces.
Step 12: Bake the cookies 8 – 10 minutes until the edges are slightly golden. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
What to do with the trimmed sides of the dough?
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.
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.
How to Store
On the Counter: 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.
In the Fridge: These cookies will stay fresh in an air-tight jar for up to a month.
In the Freezer: 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.
- 1 hand or electric mixer
- 1 medium-sized bowl
- 1 large-sized bowl
- 1 Rolling Pin
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (360 grams)
- 1 cup unsalted butter (227 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (4 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt (1.5 grams)
- 1 ½ cup castor sugar (300 grams)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (5 grams)
- ¼ cup unsweetened chocolate (57 grams)
- 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.