Donna’s Pinwheel Cookies


about 2½ dozen pinwheels, plus 1 dozen marbled cookies

Prep Time:

20 minutes, plus chilling

Cook Time:

10-12 minutes



About this Recipe

Recipe from Baking Day with Anna Olson
Appetite by Random House, 2020

When I was growing up, no Christmas cookie plate was complete without my mom’s pinwheel cookies. Like most busy moms at holiday time, she would make the dough ahead of time and freeze it to bake closer to the holidays.


  • ½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) 1% or 2% milk (divided), plus extra for brushing
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1½ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 oz (30 g) dark couverture/baking chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp (7 g) cocoa powder

I love that the marbled cookies, made from the roughly rolled-up dough scraps, look just as lovely and taste just as delicious as the intentionally rolled pinwheel cookies.

This recipe is a great make-ahead option in anticipation of holiday season. While the baked cookies freeze just fine, I prefer to freeze the dough, which takes up less space, and then thaw it in the fridge overnight before slicing and baking.

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

eat the butter and sugar by hand until well blended and a little fluffy. Beat in 1 Tbsp (15 mL) milk, the vanilla and the egg yolk until combined (don’t worry if the mixture isn’t smooth). In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and salt and add all at once to the batter, stirring until combined.

Step 2

Divide the dough into two equal portions. Shape one portion into a flat square, wrap well and set aside. Place the chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl over barely simmering water, stirring gently until melted. Add the melted chocolate to the remaining dough along with the remaining 1 Tbsp (15 mL) milk and the cocoa powder, stirring until thoroughly blended. Shape into a flat square and wrap well. Chill both portions of dough until firm, at least 2 hours.

Step 3

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the vanilla dough to a 10-inch (25 cm) square, just under ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Set aside. Roll the chocolate dough to the same size (1). Brush the surface of the vanilla dough with a little milk and place the chocolate dough on top. Trim away the rough edges (do not discard) and roll the dough up, taking care to roll tightly but without stretching the dough to avoid creating any air pockets (2). Crumple the trimmed dough into a ball and then shape into a log of the same diameter as the rolled one (it will be shorter). Wrap both logs and chill until firm, or freeze for up to 3 months, thawing overnight in the fridge before baking.

Step 4

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and line two baking trays with parchment paper. Slice the rolled (pinwheel) log into ¼-inch (6 mm) slices and arrange them on the baking trays, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) between them. Repeat with the shorter (marbled) log. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until just a hint of browning begins at the edge of the cookies.

Step 5

Cool the cookies on the trays on cooling racks before transferring to an airtight container. The cookies will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days. The baked cookies can be frozen for up to 3 month or, even better, freeze the unbaked cookie dough logs and thaw overnight in the fridge before baking.