With finals being over and the holidays fast approaching, I’ve had my sleeves pulled up and my apron on, baking tray after tray of holiday cookies. Plain sugar cookies are never enough to satisfy my Christmas cookie cravings, so I decided to try out something new this year!
I tried my hand at making roll cookies for the first time ever! They were easier than expected to make and I am very pleased with the design aspect. So much so that I’m interested in making more roll cookies in the future! I just might try to make some snowman cookies later in the winter season, since we’ll hopefully get more snow in January.
These cookies are simple to make, partially because of the type of dough used. The sugar cookie base makes for smooth designs when baking, and even when using food-grade dye, you get clean lines and vibrant results.
I attempted a gradient swirl on this batch, but I didn’t make my darkest layer dark enough to stand out against the lighter green. I could’ve added more dye, and when in doubt, you should too.
Despite the gradient look not showing on all the cookies, you can see it on some and that’s good enough for me! If your dough gets sticky after adding in the dye, add flour to your surface until the dough is workable.
Don’t worry much about the dye bleeding through the layers! I didn’t notice the green bleeding into my white layer and even when looking at a cross-section of the roll (while raw) it had clean edges. If you are using a very dark color, you may want to chill that dough before incorporating it into your design.
I mentioned my interest in making more designs from roll cookies in the future because I love how efficient it was when it came to baking. Instead of cutting out each shape or rolling a bunch of dough balls, you simply cut the chilled dough into 1/4″ slices and place on your greased pan!
I started with a spiral design because of the simplicity of making it. How difficult can rolling dye be?! Well, not very difficult in my experience! Rolling out the dough is simple, you just want the dough to be rectangular and equal in size for every layer you roll. Layering the dough can be tricky depending on how large the pieces are, so be sure to support the entirety of the dough for it to not rip. If it does rip, fix this before layering, as it will be difficult to fix later on!
Leave a comment below or visit my Instagram to share your thoughts on these roll cookies! I just might release a more advanced design idea in the future, so let me know what you think!
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Food-grade dye
I would recommend leaving the butter out on the counter for an hour rather than microwaving. You do not want to risk liquifying the butter. If you do melt it too much, add to a measuring cup with some that is still chilled. Let the cool butter chill the melted butter and use when ready. Do not attempt to mix liquid butter with the sugar as the cookies will not hold shape!
- Begin by preheating your oven to 350F and gathering your ingredients.
- Cut the softened butter into chunks and use a fork to mash. When creamy, add the sugar and stir until smooth and no chunks of butter remain.
- Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time and crack the eggs into the mix when it becomes too dry to stir. Add salt, vanilla, and baking powder, and begin kneading when necessary.
- To avoid overworking the dough, fold the dough while kneading. Press together to form a ball of dough and press down. It will look like an imperfect rectangle. Fold the sides in on themselves and turn 90 degrees.
- Repeat until no dry ingredients remain in the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Prepping the dough:
- Split the dough into three equal parts. Roll each into a ball. Press a knuckle into the parts you choose to dye.
- Add dye to each ball, or leave one plain for a white layer!
- Fold the dough into itself to avoid getting dye on your hands. Continue with a folding method until the dye is no longer marbled and inconsistent.
- Roll out the first layer of dough into a rectangle, with a length: width ratio of 2:1.
- Set out a piece of cling wrap on your work surface. Place the first layer on the cling wrap. This will be the outer layer of the roll.
- Repeat with the other colors, making sure that the rectangles are of similar size. It’s okay if the edges are not perfect, as we will cut one edge to clean it up.
- Stack the layers according to your preference with the inner layer on top. Once all layers are stacked, roll out as one piece to help with air bubbles. Make sure this final sheet of dough is about 1/4″ thick.
- Cut the long edge you wish to start from. Turn the dough so the long edge faces you and use the edge of the plastic to tuck the dough into itself. Continue pushing forward to complete the spiral effect.
- Use the cling wrap to cover the dough and twist the ends to keep it air-tight.
- Chill overnight or for at least 6 hours for the dough to set. It should be firm. If not, pop it back in the fridge and check again later. If the dough is too soft, the dough will trail with your knife and ruin the design!
- Once the dough is firm, use a non-serrated knife to make clean cuts on the roll. The ideal thickness is 1/4″.
- These cookies do not spread much, but do not place closer than 1″ apart.
- Bake for 7-9 minutes, checking for doneness at the 7-minute mark. If the dough has visibly risen and the edges look done, carefully pat the top of the cookie.
- If the cookie sinks (with very little pressure, don’t burn yourself!) then place them back in the oven for a minute or two extra.
For the sprinkles:
Some recipes call for you to dip your raw dough slices in sprinkles before baking, but I had no issue applying them later. They may stick better, but I’d do a test run to make sure they don’t melt in the oven! 350F is not super hot, but if your sprinkles have a chocolate base, they will surely make a mess!
I hardly use colored sugar sprinkles when baking, but this recipe really made them shine! I haven’t had issues with my colored sugar melting at 350F, though every brand is different and I still recommend making a test cookie.
To stick the sprinkles on after baking, create a sugar glaze mixture with confectioners sugar and water.
Use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water to create a syrup. With a fresh paintbrush or a clean finger, spread the syrup on the part of the cookie you wish to cover with sprinkles.
I used a rolling method to apply my sprinkles evenly. I poured some into a shallow dish and rolled the cookies since I only wished to cover the edges.
If you prefer to use this mixture to cover the top of a cookie, use a wider dish to catch the extras that fall off and sprinkle them from above. Let the sprinkles sit for a moment before gently tapping the remainder off.
These sugar cookies were so simple to make and are perfect for those random bouts of baking inspiration that we all get late at night! I had the urge to start this recipe at 9 pm but didn’t have to worry about 1 1/2 hours of baking because I could set the dough aside for later!
I left my dough in the fridge overnight and was very pleased with the outcome. If your dough settles and gets a flat edge, then gently roll the dough slices before placing them on your tray.
These were so fun to make and I was happy to see how vibrant they turned out! I’ll definitely use this pinwheel method in the future for holiday-themed cookies in a snap. What colors or patterns will you try to make with this method?
Be sure to save this recipe to your favorite holiday baking board! Don’t worry, I’ll have plenty more sweet treats to share with you before the next holiday season!
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