Cookie Tour 2014 – Peppermint-Swirl Sugar Cookies

The 2014 Currier and Ives Cookie Tour took place on Saturday, December 13th with partly cloudy skies and cookies galore!  This was our fifth year participating and as has become our tradition… we had a new cookie to share. This year’s Peppermint-Swirl Sugar Cookie is fun to look at and fun to make!  The recipe is a pretty simple slice-and-bake-type refrigerator sugar cookie dough, but there is a little bit of technique involved in shaping the dough into the peppermint-swirl shape.

A bit of background first…  the inspiration for these cookies started over a year ago with some adorable Peppermint Candy Sugar Cookies I saw on the Bakerella blog via Pinterest.  I loved the way they looked and the way they were packaged with the two twisted ends, but when I read the recipe and realized the beauty was in the icing, I was pretty sure I would never succeed in making the 300 – 400 cookies we need for cookie tour.  So I pushed the idea to the back of my mind and moved on to other things.  Fast forward to October of this year when I tried a recipe for Candy Corn Cookies. They are basically a slice-and-bake sugar cookies that has been layered and cut to look like candy corn.  I didn’t think there was anything too special about the way the cookies tasted, but they looked really cute.  So, if I could make slice-and-bake cookies that looked like candy corn, why can’t I make slice-and-bake cookies that look like peppermint candies, right?

So after some general Internet and YouTube browsing didn’t turn up any ready-made solutions for my idea, I decided I would need to figure it out for myself.  I did, however, find a cool YouTube channel by yoyomax12 where she makes really cute slice-and-bake cookies with a panda face!  So if yoyomax12 can succeed in making cookies with a panda face, I should be able to make cookies that look like peppermint candies, right?

And off to the kitchen I went.  I made a basic refrigerator cookie dough (my recipe is below, but if you already have a favorite recipe, you could probably use your own), divided the dough in half, colored one half red, left the other half plain, and got to work making the design. To be honest, the technique for forming the pattern in the dough is not all that difficult.  I actually got the technique to work reasonably well on my first try, but it is really hard to put into words so I’ll just have to count on pictures… and even a YouTube video… to show you how.

Here’s the video…

Or if you’d rather just see photos, here you go.

Start with two equal-sized discs.

Cut each disc in half and join one red and one white half.

Cut disc in half again and flip over one half to get alternating colors. 
Cut again, into fourths, diagonally across white and red segments.

Rearrange segments to alternating colors.

Start squeezing dough together and rotate in one direction to start forming swirl.
Occasionally flip-over cylinder of dough, but make sure to switch directions when you flip.
So if you start rotating in the clockwise direction, make sure to switch to counter-clockwise when you flip the cylinder over.

Turn disc on its side and start rolling into a log.
Make sure to keep rolling in the same direction.

Roll until cylinder is about 2 inches thick and 8 inches long.

Wipe off flour from outside of dough to help sprinkles stick.

Roll in sprinkles or pearl sugar.  Wrap in waxed paper
and chill for several hours or overnight.

Cut chilled dough with a sharp, serrated knife.

Transfer cookie slices to prepared baking sheets and bake as directed.
Ta da!

Even cuter when wrapped to look like peppermint candies!

Here’s my recipe for the cookie dough.  It contains cream cheese in addition to the butter, which makes a soft, not too crumbly cookie.  The peppermint flavor is not overwhelming, and the recipe includes just a bit of vanilla in addition to the peppermint to give it some nice flavor.

Peppermint-Swirl Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted
butter, at room temp
8 ounces cream
cheese, at room temp

1 ½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon peppermint

3 ½ cup all-purpose

1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking
red food coloring gel
sprinkles, or pearl sugar
1 ½ cups semi-sweet
chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon
vegetable shortening
Make dough: In a
large mixing bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sugar,
egg, vanilla and peppermint extract. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix until
combined. Divide dough in half and add red food coloring to one half until
desired color is obtained.  Wrap each half of the dough in plastic and chill for 15 to 20 minutes, or up to an hour.
Shape dough: Working
on a lightly-floured surface, form each half of the dough (red & white)
into a thick disc, about 5” diameter. Using a large knife or bench scraper, cut each
disc into 8 wedges of equal size. Next, rearrange the wedges so you have two
discs that each resembles a wagon wheel with alternating red/white segments,
making sure all the points meet in the center. Carefully start squeezing the pieces
together and rotating in one direction (clockwise or counter-clockwise) to start forming a cylinder.  Turn the cylinder over, and rotate in the opposite direction.  Lay the dough cylinder on its side and finish rolling the dough into a log, about 2 ¼ inches in diameter and 8 inches long.  To get the characteristic swirl, make sure to continue roll in the same direction.  Put a thin layer of sprinkles in a shallow pan
and roll each log in the sprinkles to coat, pressing lightly to adhere.  (If you use a lot flour when rolling the dough, dampen outside of dough with a wet paper towel to help sprinkles stick.) Wrap each log in wax paper and refrigerate
several hours or overnight.
Bake and finish
cookies: Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a
silicone baking mat. Working with one log at a time, use a sharp, serrated
knife to cut ¼” slices and place slices on prepared baking sheets.  (Note: Dough will cut best when cold. If
knife gets sticky, clean it between cuts with a damp paper towel.) Bake 8-10
minutes, until cookies are baked, but before edges start to brown.  Let cool. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips
with shortening and frost bottoms of cookies with chocolate.  Place cookies, chocolate-side-down, back on
silicone baking mat or on a clean piece of wax paper and allow chocolate to
fully cool and harden.  Store in an
airtight container in a cool, dry location.

Makes 3 ½ to 4 dozen