This year I decided to participate in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap hosted by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. The idea is simple—make three dozen homemade cookies and mail them to three lucky bloggers, Secret Santa style. A few days later, I would find my own mailbox filled with boxes of homemade cookies. And the best part? I could enjoy them knowing someone out there made them especially for me.
When I first heard about this exchange back in October, I was immediately sold. How fun was this idea? Not only do I love sharing my baked goods with others, but I love getting packages in the mail. It was absolutely a win-win situation for me.
But, as the days ticked by, I struggled to come up with an idea for a cookie. I went to the library and picked up half a dozen cookbooks just on the subject of cookies. I flipped through each and every one, feeling more and more uninspired as I turned the pages. Even Martha Stewart, the goddess of all things sweet, couldn't spark my creative interest. As the weeks flew by and I found myself swallowed in work, original cookie ideas were simply lost to the wind.
When the date of the cookie swap finally loomed overhead, the month and a half I had to come up with a fun cookie idea was reduced to all of 10 minutes and restricted to the ingredients already in my kitchen. Out of this exigence, the idea for these Peppermint Pinwheels was born. While the idea may not be original, it doesn't make the pinwheel sandwiches any less fun (or delicious).
After baking and individually packaging each cookie for a safe journey across the country, I wished my cookies well on their journey, hoping the mouths to receive them would enjoy them as much as I did.
Inspired by the idea of a cookie exchange, I thought it would be fun to send out a dozen cookies to you. Yes, you! And so three of you lucky readers will find a box of handmade cookies sitting in your mailbox in the next week. I love getting mail and, when it just so happens to be edible mail, it just makes it that much more fun. I want to share in the season of giving with you!
To find a box of cookies on your doorstep...
1. Leave a comment below and tell me about your favorite holiday cookies. Make sure to include your email address when filling out the comment form so I can get ahold of you!
2. You must live in the United States or Canada. I unfortunately cannot afford to send cookies further away (and I fear they may arrive shattered after such a long journey).
3. The contest will end on Wednesday, December 14th at 10 pm (cst) and the winners will be chosen randomly and announced on Facebook and Twitter immediately thereafter (and on here Thursday morning).
Edit: The contest is closed and the winners have been chosen.
Peppermint Pinwheels are bold and colorful holiday cookies. Featuring vanilla sugar cookies and peppermint buttercream frosting, the cookies have no shortage of flavor. The cookie sandwiches are surprisingly soft, making it difficult to eat just one. While pinwheel cookies may appear intimidating, just note that, if you can roll out dough for cut-out cookies, there is no reason you couldn't whip up a batch of these since the same concepts apply. Do not skimp on refrigerator time and these cookies should turn out just as beautiful for you!
Yields about 2 dozen cookie sandwiches
Vanilla Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Red gel food coloring, as needed
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing until well combined.
Remove 1/2 of the dough and add red food coloring to the remaining dough, beating until well mixed. Gel food color will work best, dying the dough to a deep red. Water based food colors will most likely leave you with a pink dough, no matter how much coloring you add. Wrap each dough separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour to an hour to firm up the dough.
Roll out one color of dough to 1/4-inch thick rectangle on a lightly floured non-stick baking mat or wax paper. Roll out the second color of dough to 1/4-inch thick rectangle of the same size on a lightly floured surface. Place the second rectangle on top of the first and trim the edges until even. Using the mat or wax paper, roll the dough into a log. Secure with rubber bands and place in the refrigerator for 4 hours to firm up.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for best cookie removal.
Remove rubber bands from cookie log and place on a lightly floured surface. Cut cookies to 1/8-inch thick and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake cookies for 7-8 minutes; do not allow the edges to brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting.
8 tablespoon butter, room temperature
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Pinch of salt
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until smooth. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and continue beating on low until combined. Mix in peppermint extract, heavy cream, and salt. If frosting is too thick, add an additional teaspoon or two of heavy cream to smooth it out. If frosting is too thin, add additional cup of powdered sugar until desired texture is reached.
Using a pastry bag (or plastic bag with the corner cut out), pipe peppermint buttercream onto the bottom of a pinwheel cookie and sandwich with another cookie. Repeat this using all pinwheel cookies. Let buttercream dry before storing cookies in an airtight container.