Crushed Candy Cane Pinwheel Cookies

Whisking Wolf
by Whisking Wolf
36 cookies
38 min

Slice-and-bake Pinwheel Cookies with Crushed Candy Canes are the sugar cookies of Santa’s dreams. Ultra soft and flavored with peppermint, these cookies are perfect for the candy cane obsessed.

Looks can be deceiving. These candy-cane swirled pinwheels appear to be pretty, but don’t be fooled by their pink charms. They have an ugly history. Brutal but brief, it begins with Batch 1 fusing to the baking sheet when my candy canes melted. Batch 2 got its holidays confused and ended up a ghastly shade of orange. Then there was Batch 3, the one mistaken for pancakes by my son.

He’s not exactly the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree.

This holiday isn’t supposed to be about what you get, it’s supposed to be about what you give and I’m on the verge of giving myself severe depression. Seriously, pink cookies are making my Christmas bluer than Elvis’s.

Now I understand how so many people end up sad around the holidays: post-traumatic pink cookie disorder. How can I ever recover from wasting 3 days, 9 cups of flour and 90 mini candy canes on inedible pinwheels? There’s got to be a better way.

I prayed to the elves at the North Pole then made one last attempt to get my sugar cookie stuff together. Here’s what I did differently:

  • This time the flour was meticulously measured
  • Food coloring was added one drop at a time then stirred after each addition
  • Cornstarch was included in order to reign in any spreading
  • The rolled logs of dough chilled overnight
  • The candy canes were ground to the consistency of cremation dust

Just when I needed a Christmas miracle the most, the magic of the season came through. Surprisingly, everything was on point with the pinwheels, from the color and the texture to the swirls and the shape. One taste of these sugar cookies and you’ll crave them year round. Ultra soft and flavored with peppermint, make these pinwheel cookies for the candy cane obsessed person in your life.

Crushed Candy Cane Pinwheel Cookies
Recipe details
  • 36  cookies
  • Prep time: 30 Minutes Cook time: 8 Minutes Total time: 38 min
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  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp peppermint extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour unbleached
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt fine
  • 1/2 cup finely ground candy canes (approximately 9 candy canes)
  • 1/8 tsp red food coloring gel

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
Add peppermint extract then mix until combined. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch and salt.
Gradually add dry ingredients to wet, mixing on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.
Remove half of dough from the mixing bowl and place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 14 x 12 inch rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick. Keep dough between the parchment layers and place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Add ground candy canes and red food coloring to the dough in the mixing bowl. Beat on low until combined then place dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 14 x 12 inch rectangle that is 1/4 inch thick. Keep dough between the parchment layers and place it in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
After dough has chilled, place the plain dough on your work surface and very gently remove the top layer of parchment only. Next, gently remove both sides of parchment from the candy cane dough and place on top of plain dough. Trim any uneven edges with a pizza cutter.
Use a rolling pin to gently seal the two layers together. It should only take 1 or 2, light-pressure rolls on the peppermint layer to seal. Be careful not to flatten dough.
Starting with the long end, gently roll the two layers together into a log. Tugging on the parchment helps tighten the roll. The dough may be slightly sticky, so take your time with the process.
Cut the log into 2 halves. Wrap each in parchment and refrigerate for 8 hours.
After dough had chilled, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Unwrap one log of dough and slice into 1/4 inch rounds. (Fishing line is my trick to making clean cuts, but you can also use a sharp knife.)
Place pinwheels on baking sheet, spaced 1 inch apart and bake for 8 minutes. Note, cookies will look puffy when they come out of the oven but will flatten as they cool.
Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.
Repeat the slicing and baking process for the remaining log of dough.
Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.
  • I recommend gel dye for this recipe because gel is more vibrant in color and less batter diluting than liquid dye.
  • Cornstarch may sound like an unconventional ingredient for cookies, but it makes these pinwheels oh so soft and keeps them from spreading while baking.
  • Grind candy canes into a fine, dust-like consistency before adding to batter. Either use a blender or a food processor to accomplish this task.
  • Chilling rolled dough for a minimum of 8 hours is mandatory, therefore, do not skip this step! I prepare mine in the evening then refrigerate overnight.
  • Cut the pinwheel log into 1/4 inch cookie rounds. For the cleanest cut use a sharp, non-serrated knife. Fishing line also works like a charm.
Whisking Wolf
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  • J. J. on Dec 20, 2020

    It doesn’t matter if I ever make them. The joy and laughter from your commentary was better than the cookies could ever be.

    Thank you. Happy Holidays!

    • Whisking Wolf Whisking Wolf on Dec 21, 2020

      Haha. Thanks so much for finding joy in my baking failures. Have a great holiday!!

  • Deanna Perata Deanna Perata on Dec 21, 2020

    cremated candy cane dust :-) Thanks for the laughs...I am hopeful to give it a try. This should be your first recipe in your new cookbook ;-)

    • Whisking Wolf Whisking Wolf on Dec 21, 2020

      Hi Deanna, glad I could give you a laugh. Have a great holiday and if I'm ever lucky enough to get my own cookbook some day I'll send you a signed copy and a bag of candy cane dust 😉