Considering my enthusiasm for all things pepperminty at this time of year, I’m surprised that this recipe for Candy Cane Pinwheels didn’t catch my eye straightaway when I perused the America’s Test Kitchen “Holiday Cookies” special issue last year. Upon a more careful reading this year, these mesmerizing swirls of pretty pink peppermint demanded to be baked.
With peppermint candies and extract leftover from last year’s Homemade Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s experiment still fresh in the pantry and a standing mixer at the ready, the cookie dough came together in a relative snap. I was slightly worried about handling the dough due to the unseasonably warm weather in Los Angeles and my palms’ propensity for perspiring, but thankfully it was sturdy enough to handle all the ambient conditions with ease.
The resulting pinwheels were as delightful to eat as they were to behold. The pink swirls pumped up with peppermint candies were complemented by the buttery shortbread. These tasted best fresh from the oven, when the edges were crisp and the innards still soft.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (15 ounces)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup finely ground peppermint candies (about 20)
- 6 drops red food coloring
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl. Set aside.
With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until dough forms. Remove half of the dough (1 pound) from bowl and reserve.
Add peppermint extract, candy, and food coloring to remaining dough and mix until combined.
Place peppermint dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into 14 by 8-inch rectangle; chill until firm but still pliable, about 15 minutes. Repeat with reserved dough.
Once both layers of dough have been chilled, place the peppermint dough on top of the plain dough, pressing to adhere. With the long side facing you, roll the dough into a log. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
Heat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice cookies into 1/4-inch rounds and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Bake until edges are just golden, 12 to 14 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Let cool 10 minutes on sheet, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.