This chocolate pinwheel cookie recipe is a classic icebox cookie. Mix the dough, roll it into a log, and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Here, we’re swirling chocolate and vanilla batter for a pretty cookie with a decadent taste.
A Short History of Icebox Cookies
There would be no icebox cookies without a refrigerator. And so, it should come as no surprise that icebox cookies (like icebox cakes) are children of the great depression. Icebox cookies take their name from the refrigerator’s predecessor — the icebox. The percentage of Americans owning electric refrigerators rose from 8% in 1930s to 44% by the end of the decade. Refrigerators salesmen touted their wares as the must-have item to guarantee the health and safety of a household. The cool temperatures stored food safely, preventing unwanted spoiling. For a woman responsible for preparing meals for an entire family in a “servantless household,” as they were known at the time, a refrigerator was an essential tool.
Period magazines published countless recipes to teach Americans how to use their new appliances, with “cold cooking.” Recipes that took advantage of the steady cold temperature, like cakes made of whipped cream and cookies, gelatine-based treats, and these cookies, were all the rage. Icebox cookies come in many variations, with the simplest being a sugar cookie. The dough hardens in the refrigerator at a cooler temperature, and then keeps its shape as it bakes. Icebox cookies also had the advantage of keeping in the refrigerator for an extended period. A home cook could slice off cookies as needed, baking only what he or she needed for the day or meal. This efficient use of what would have been expensive baking supplies helps explain their depression popularity.
This pinwheel cookie recipe builds on the icebox cookie, dividing the dough in two, tinting one half, and then rolling the two sheets and twirling together for a beautiful design.
Channeling your inner 1930s “servantless” housewife? Here are some more great “cold cooking” recipes.
Chocolate Pinwheel Cookie Recipe
- Rolling Pin
- silicone baking mat
- parchment paper
- baking sheet
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- In a large bowl using an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar together on medium speed.
- Add in the egg and vanilla extract and beat to combine.
- Sift the dry ingredients (first portion of flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda) into the wet ingredients. Stir on low speed until the flour mixture is fully incorporated.
- Divide dough in half. Remove half of dough from the bowl onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Add in the remaining half cup of flour. Remove the vanilla dough from the bowl. Use a rolling pin to roll dough on a piece of parchment paper, or a well-floured surface, into a 9 x 9 inch square (roughly 1/4 inch thick) and store it in the refrigerator while you make and roll the chocolate dough.
- Return remaining dough to the bowl and add in the cocoa powder. Stir to combine. Roll chocolate dough into a 9 x 9 inch square, roughly 1/4 inch thick.
- Remove the square of the vanilla dough from the fridge and place the square of the chocolate dough on top of the plain dough. Starting at one edge of the dough, roll the two doughs togther to form a spiral. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let cool in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, and up to overnight. If you will be storing for a longer period of time in the refrigerator, consider doing a double wrap.
- When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Remove the dough log from the fridge and use a sharp knife to slice off quarter-inch thick slices. Place cookies 1-inch apart on baking sheet. Bake cookies in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes until set and just beginning to turn golden on the edges.
- Let cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to wire rack to fully cool.
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