Thursday, July 2, 2015

4th of July Pinwheel Cookies

Hello, everyone!  Happy first Thursday of the month!  You know what that's cookie of the month time!  Today, I have a variation of one of my favorite Christmas cookies (you can find that here)!
What says 4th of July like, of course, the red, white, and blue colors??  Not much else...maybe grilling and parades...I'll see if I can think about doing a hot dog cookie, or something along those lines for next year.
...maybe not.  A hot dog cookie doesn't sound very good!
Sugar cookies are a lot of fun to bake, because you can easily color the doughs and come up with lots of variations, perfect for almost any holiday or occasion.  You can also swap out the vanilla extract for almost any other flavoring extract, and come up with lots of variations!  Some lemon extract in this would be really yummy, and perfectly summery!
Which holds true in these cookies!  Let's get started, so you can whip up a batch for your 4th of July picnics and BBQs!

Here's your grocery list for this one:
3 C All purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 C butter, unsalted and softened
1 1/3 C granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp extract of choice (today, I just used vanilla)
Gel blue and red food colorings

This process is pretty simple, but it is a little bit time consuming, because the doughs have to rest in the fridge, so that the butter doesn't get too soft in the dough.  I'll cover more on that a little bit later.  So, as usual, to start off with, place your butter in the bowl of your mixer, and mix until light and fluffy.  Add in your sugar, and again, mix on medium speed, until light and fluffy.  This will take just a minute or so.

Beat your eggs in one at a time (meaning, add one egg in, let it mix in, then add in the other one...learn from my mistakes, when I was just starting to cook, I had no idea what that meant, and messed up a cheesecake.  But that's a story for another time...), and add in your extract of choice, again, mixing well. 

After all of this has been well mixed, put your flour, salt, and baking powder into a medium sized mixing bowl, and whisk them together.  Once they have been well incorporated, slowly add them to the butter and sugar mixture, and mix until everything just comes together. 
This will be a very slightly sticky dough, but do your best to divide it (roughly) into 3 portions.  Place the first portion onto some plastic wrap, roughly shape it into a square (or flat disk,,,be creative!), and place it into the fridge to firm up a bit, for about an hour. 
With the remaining 2/3 of the divided dough, put the red food coloring (I used about 1/2 tsp of gel food coloring), into 1/3, and the blue food coloring (again, using about 1/2 tsp gel food coloring) into the other 1/3 dough portion.  Mix these colors well, place on some plastic wrap (separately, please), and put them in the fridge for an hour, as well. 


Doesn't that scream "4th of July"?!  Anyway, after your dough has firmed up a bit, take out the red dough, and either have a well floured surface, or put out some wax or parchment paper, and roll out.  I rolled mine out a bit too thinly, but it still worked out just fine.  I would aim for about 1/4" thickness on the dough! 
Now then, you can roll out the white dough and the blue dough the same way and try to finagle the entire thing over the red dough, or, you can just tear the white (and, subsequently, blue) dough off chunk by chunk, gently press it out into a thin disk, and place it on top of the red (and, again, subsequently white) dough.  I will almost always opt for the easier way to do something, so I just squished my white dough on top of my red dough.  After I got it all on top of the red dough, I just ran my roller over the top, to smooth out any lumps and bumps.  It didn't have to look beautiful, because after I shaped this into a log, I was going to roll it on the counter, to make sure that the layers were all in harmony with each other. 

As I stated before, I did the same thing with the blue dough, and you have three beautiful layers, all ready to roll up.  I always start with the long edge closest to me, and roll as tightly as I can.  Again, I wasn't that worried about it, since I was going to roll the dough long on my counter a few times, making sure everything was pressed together nicely. 
Like I said, I rolled my red dough out a little bit too thinly, and I noticed a white spot peaking through as I rolled this up.  No need to panic, I just pinched/smoothed the red dough in the area, over that spot, and it covered right up!  Even if I couldn't do that, it wasn't going to be anything anyone would ever notice on the end product, anyway; these cookies are that cute! 

All smoothed out!   Once you have everything all rolled up (I like to compress the ends of my dough log as I roll it out, so that the ends are the same thickness as the rest of the dough log), and have rolled it on the counter a few times, wrap this up with some plastic wrap, and let it rest in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
Wen you're ready to bake these off, you can either slice them with a sharp knife, or slice them using dental floss, like I explained in my overnight cinnamon rolls post, into 1/4" disks, and place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet. 

Bake them in an oven preheated to 350*, for 10-15 minutes, until just set.  Mine were done at 12 minutes, so check them starting at 10 minutes.  Let them cool on the baking sheet for another 5 minutes, before moving to a cooling rack!  
Then, pack 'em up and take 'em with you out to a BBQ or picnic!  Happy 4th, everyone, and if you're not in the United States, happy first Thursday of the month!