Inspirations for cookie recipes come from all kinds of places. The other night while watching a movie, there was a windmill in the background, which took my mind to this week's cookies. I have not done a pinwheel-style cookie for a long time. My favorite filling is cinnamon sugar, but what about the cookie?
Wanting something different, I decided to add orange to the cookie batter, and the taste floors me. The orange gave the cookie dough a sweet smell and taste.
I did two images to show the ingredients for this cookie. The first is for the cookie dough, and the second is for the filling and icing.
Ingredients You Need For These Cookies
- Butter unsalted
- Cream cheese
- Sugar white
- Vanilla bean paste
- All-purpose flour
- Kosher salt
- Baking powder
- Orange juice
- Orange zest
Ingredients for Filling and Icing
- Butter unsalted
- Ground cinnamon - Use your favorite cinnamon for this recipe.
- Sugar white
- Light brown sugar
- Powdered sugar
- Vanilla Extract
- Milk - I used 2% milk
- Butter unsalted
How to Make Orange Cookie Dough
Not much prep work for this cookie, just zesting and juicing an orange. I try not to go deep when zesting since the white under the orange skin can be bitter. So twice over the same spot is all I do for all my citrus.
Next, weigh or measure the sugar and set it aside. In another bowl, weigh or measure the flour, salt, and baking powder, running a whisk through to blend.
Add the cream cheese and butter, mixing on a medium mixer speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Now, add the sugar and continue mixing for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Add one egg at a time and mix. Scrape down the bowl sides and across the bottom before adding the orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla bean paste. After mixing, turn the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour until combined.
If the cookie dough is tacky, generously flour a pastry mat before adding the cookie dough to the mat. Then add some flour to the top of the cookie dough mound. Finally, pat the flour around the mound so you can handle it.
Divide the cookie dough in half and start to shape them into a rectangular shape. This makes it easier to roll out later. Next, wrap each half in plastic wrap. You can continue to shape the dough even after it is wrapped.
I have a quarter-size sheet pan that is 9 X 13 (Amazon) and perfect for holding my wrapped cookie dough when chilling—place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. I left mine in overnight. This is a great cookie to start the night before and finish the next day.
How to Roll a Pinwheel Cookie Log
Most people I have heard from find the hardest part of this cookie is getting the dough to roll nicely into a log. So, I found this YouTube video on one way to roll a pinwheel cookie. This video shows using parchment paper to create the pinwheel cookie log. This method works great since parchment paper does not stick and is very easy to lift and roll.
In a small bowl, add the melted butter, cinnamon, white sugar, and the light brown sugar and mix. Grab the cookie dough from the fridge time to roll!
The parchment paper is a half-sheet size that I also use for my baking sheet pans. Flour the parchment paper and the top of the cookie dough. I have rings (Amazon) on the end of my rolling pin and use the ¼" for thickness.
Roll out to almost cover the parchment paper and shape it into a nice rectangle using your hand. Then, using half of the cinnamon filling (if stiff heat in microwave for 10 seconds) drop small spoonsful onto the cookie dough. I leave about an inch around the edges without any filling.
Spread the filling around using your fingers so it is not lumped in just spots. Now pick up the bottom closest to you of the parchment paper and start to roll the cookie dough. If it sticks a little, push it gently with your fingers. Roll it to just before the end.
Cut off a piece of plastic wrap 4 inches longer on each side than the roll and lay it just under the edge of the cookie dough roll. Then, pick up the parchment paper and roll it onto the plastic wrap. Roll it up, and I smooth out any place that might be a bit of a pot belly so it is an equal-width log.
I picked up a baguette pan (Amazon) for my cookie dough logs. I was at a store, and they only had the 3 loaves, but you can get it with just 2 loaves.
Since you have been working with the cookie dough, I refrigerate them for 1 to 2 hours to make it easier to slice.
Slice and Bake Pinwheel Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C or 180°C) and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. Take one of the cookie logs out of the refrigerator and unwrap it. Using a sharp night slice, about ½" slices.
I place 12 slices onto a sheet pan. I got 18 slices per log for a total of 36 cookies. Yours may be a few less or more, depending on your cookie slice width. Now you will have the ends with little to no filling, but they still have a great orange taste. So, make sure you bake them also.
Bake for 10-12 minutes and leave them on the pan for a minute or two after pulling them from the oven. Then move them to a cooling rack. If you slice your cookie slices thinner, you may need to adjust the time slightly.
After completely cooling the cookies, add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, melted butter, and milk (start with 2 Tbsp) to a bowl. I use a whisk to blend. I like my icing a little on the thinner side, so I use 4 Tbsp.
Take a small spoonful of the icing and go back and forth lightly over the top of each cookie. The icing takes about 30 to 60 minutes to harden completely.
Enjoy the delightful aroma of homemade Cinnamon Orange Pinwheel cookies straight from the oven!
The short answer is yes, but you will miss out on the zest's more concentrated orange flavor. Therefore, I recommend, if possible, adding the zest.
My advice is to use the cinnamon that you always use for baking. I still have some McCormick cinnamon in my pantry, and it works well in some recipes but my go-to cinnamon is Saigon Cinnamon.
They say the true cinnamon is the Ceylon Cinnamon, but they all have unique tastes. I like Saigon because of its sweet smell and taste. However, it does have a bold taste which I wanted for this cookie.
Yes, I often make the cookie dough the night before and make the cookies the next day. Ensure the plastic wrap around the rectangles is secure, and you will not have any issues. I do let them sit out for about 15 minutes before I am going to roll the dough.
You could use other spices; for example, cardamom and orange go together nicely, but you must adjust the quantity to suit your taste. You could also try chocolate with a coffee mixture.
More Cinnamon Cookies
Cinnamon Orange Pinwheel CookiesBarbara Hall
- 1 cup (227 g) Butter unsalted room temperature
- 4 oz (4 oz) Cream Cheese room temperature
- 1 ½ cup (300 g) Sugar white
- 2 (2) Eggs room temperature
- 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Vanilla bean paste
- 3 cups (375 g) All-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) Kosher Salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoon (1.25 teaspoon) Baking powder
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) Orange juice fresh
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) Orange zest
- 3 tablespoon (3 tablespoon) Butter unsalted melted
- 1 ½ tablespoon (1.5 tablespoon) Ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup (50 g) Sugar white
- ¼ cup (55 g) Light brown sugar
- 1 cup (120 g) Powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) Vanilla Extract
- 2-4 tablespoon (2 tablespoon) Milk
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) Butter unsalted melted
- Weigh or measure the sugar and set it aside. Weight or measure the flour, salt, and baking powder in another bowl and run a whisk through to blend. Zest and juice one orange into separate containers and set these aside also.
- In a stand or hand-held mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese until mixed, about 1 to 2 minutes. Then add the sugar and mix for another 2 to 3 minutes. You want it light and fluffy looking. Add one egg at a time, mixing the first thoroughly before adding the second egg. Next, mix the vanilla bean paste, orange zest, and orange juice for about a minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn your mixer to low. Slowly add the flour mixture until incorporated.
- Depending on how tacky the cookie dough this will guide you on how much flour to spread out before adding the cookie dough to the pastry mat. Add what you need to work with the dough. Divide the cookie dough in half and flatten the halves into flattened rectangles. The rectangular shape will make it easier to roll out. Wrap both halves in separate plastic wrap. I put them on a sheet pan and into the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
FILLING AND PUTTING THE PINWHEEL TOGETHER
- Rolling out the rectangular cookie dough shape works well on parchment paper. First, roll the cookie dough about ½-inch thick, covering most of the parchment paper. Then, take your hands and shape any dough that is sticking out of the rectangle shape.
- In a small bowl, add the melted butter, cinnamon, white sugar, and light brown sugar, mixing it to combine. If it is a little stiff, microwave it for about 10 seconds. Then, using half of the filling, spread small spoonsful around the cookie dough rectangle. Now, smear the filling using your hands, leaving a good inch or two around the edges. Time to roll!
- To roll, pick up the short end of the parchment paper and start to roll the cookie dough. Gravity helps to make the log. Just before completing the log, cut off a piece of plastic wrap about 4 inches longer on each side than the log, and lay it at the end of the log. Then lift the parchment paper to roll it right onto the plastic wrap. I pat the ends to square off the sides and then wrap them with plastic wrap.
- I saw a neat trick where you split a paper towel roll in half and use the half to cradle the log. I was using this method for quite a while until I saw a baguette pan which is what I use now. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. The colder the logs are, the easier they are to slice.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C or 180°C), and line 2 cookie sheet pans with parchment paper and set aside. Take one log roll out of the refrigerator, slice about ½ thick slices, adding 12 to a pan. Give the cookie slices 2 inches between each other; they spread a little—Bake for 10-12 minutes. You want them to be a light golden brown on the bottom. After removing them from the oven, let them sit for a minute before moving them to a cooling rack.
- Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, melted butter, and 2 tablespoon of milk in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. If the icing is too thick, add one more tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the right consistency. You want it thin enough to put some on a spoon and go back and forth across the top of each cookie.
I am not a certified Dietitian or Nutritionist. The nutrition amounts given below are provided through a program and are only a guideline.