Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Christmas Swirl Sugar Cookies

Written by, Bernadyn Nettles

Gingerbread, ginger snaps and sprinkles, oh my!  The holidays are a popular time for baking cookies.  I love the smell of fresh baked cookies wafting from the kitchen, especially during the holiday season, to help put me in the Christmas mood.  This past weekend, we participated in a cookie swap, you can imagine my kids' excitement when they heard that was happening!  I wanted the cookies we brought to be festive for Christmas.  We decided to make swirl sugar cookies for the first time.  We learned a lot while doing it.  I'm sharing the recipe for them today and the tips we learned to perfect them for next time!

I wasn't sure which type of cookies to bring to the cookie swap but I went with sugar cookies since that's an iconic cookie to bake during Christmas.  I didn't want to mess with frosting, however, so when I saw these Christmas Swirl Sugar Cookies on Pinterest, I wanted to try it and knew my kids would enjoy helping in the kitchen to make these.

You can use whichever sugar cookie recipe you like.  If you're looking for one, I used this sugar cookie recipe.

Tips before Making Swirl Sugar Cookies

  • You will not want to wait until the last minute to make these if you are bringing them to a party or cookie swap an hour before making these.  This recipe will need time to make, at least a few hours before serving them.
  • Set out all the ingredients and allow them to reach room temperature before you begin mixing the ingredients together.
  • When you separate the dough into their individual colors, as you'll see in the instructions below, try to make them all the same size when you roll it out.  
  • When layering the separated dough, it is best to have another set of hands helping to place them over one another to make sure they lay flat and even on top of each other.  My son helped me do this part after the second layer when I did it by myself.  It really made a difference when he helped! 
  • Although this particular sugar cookie recipe is one that does not require chilling for making shapes, for the swirl cookies, you will want to give the dough time to chill in the fridge before cutting into it so that they will keep their round shape.  As you can see, we did not do that so they came out a little wonky-shaped, more oval than circular and some cookies are longer than others!
  • That leads us to the next tip, when rolling it all together before chilling the dough, roll it as tight and keep it even and round as possible.


How to Make Christmas Swirl Sugar Cookies

What You Need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. pure almond extract
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Parchment paper or wax paper
  • Rolling pin
  • Red and green sprinkles 

  1. After your ingredients have been allowed to sit out and reach room temperature, you can begin combining them to make your dough.  Follow the directions on whatever sugar cookie recipe you are using. 
  2. When you have the dough made, separate it into three sections, one for each color.  
  3. Use separate bowls to place each section to add their own food coloring.
  4. Create a hole in the center of each dough to drop in the food coloring.  I used plenty of drops to make the colors pop.
  5. Mix the dough with the food coloring using your hands.  You can wear disposable food gloves if you don't want the dye to touch your hands.
  6. After all the food coloring is well-combined with each dough, wrap them separately in their own plastic wrap.  Place them in the fridge to chill for about 10 or 15 minutes or enough time to roll them out.
  7. Use a separate wax paper for each of the dough to roll them out flat.
  8. When they are all rolled out, use a knife to cut and even them out to the same size.
  9. Decide how you want the colors to be layered and ask for another set of hands to help you place them on top of one another.
  10. All of the dough layers will be on one piece of wax paper.  You can cut off the excess sides at this point to make it even when you roll the dough.
  11. Roll the dough as tight and even as you can. The long side is facing you. You're going to be rolling the dough up.
  12. Cover the top of the dough with the wax paper and don't forget to fold over the ends.  This keeps the dough from drying out.  Let the dough get firm in the fridge.  
  13. When it is hard enough to cut, remove it and use a sharp knife to cut the dough into even slices.
  14. If you are adding sprinkles around the cookies, after slicing them, pour out sprinkles into a bowl or plate and roll the sides of the cookies in the sprinkles.  This is the part my little girl helped with since she loves sprinkles and it was easy enough for her to do.
  15. Bake them in the oven for the amount of time that the sugar cookie recipe you used called for, usually about 6-8 minutes.  You don't want these cookies to brown so be sure to check before letting them sit too long in the oven. 
  16. Allow them to cool in baking sheet for about five minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Next time, we'll make them much more round and let them chill before cutting. These are easy to make for those who don't want to deal with using frosting or decorating.

Update: Here are the cookies (pictured above and below), that we made the next year after chilling them and you can see the  difference in their shape!

Did you participate in a cookie swap this Christmas?  What's your favorite holiday cookie recipe to make?

Feel free to share this recipe with a friend who would love to try it!

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