Halloween Dessert: Hypnotizing Swirl Cookies

These colorful Halloween cookies will put a spell on partygoers with their hypnotizing swirls. The dough freezes well and has slice-and-bake convenience for easy entertaining.

October 01, 2021

Photo by: Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

Heather Baird, SprinkleBakes.com

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  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and kept cold
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange gel food color
  • 1/2 teaspoon black gel food color
  • 1/2 teaspoon green gel food color
  • 1/2 teaspoon violet gel food color
  • 2/3 cup Halloween nonpareils

Yield: 24 cookies


Combine two cups of flour with the baking powder, salt and sugars in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse briefly to mix. Add the cold butter in pieces, and process with short bursts until the mixture has a crumbly consistency. Next, add the vanilla extract and process in 3-­second pulses until a dough ball forms. Divide the dough into four equal portions (Image 1). Add one portion of dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and tint with the orange food color. The dough should not be sticky and should resemble the consistency of soft Play-Doh. If the dough is sticky, add flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough loses its tack. Repeat the process with the remaining dough pieces and food colors (Image 2).

Roll out each portion of dough between sheets of parchment paper to form a rough 12"x9" rectangle, to about 1/8-inch thickness. Peel off the parchment paper from the orange piece of dough (Image 1). Using the paper, lift the purple dough and flip it over onto the orange dough so they are stacked. Gently press the two dough pieces together. Remove the paper from the purple dough. Continue to stack the dough pieces on top of each other. The order should be orange, purple, green and black (Image 2). When the dough is stacked, flip it over on a large piece of waxed paper so that the orange dough is facing upward, and roll the stacked dough thinner, to about 1/4-inch thickness (Image 3).

Remove the top sheet of wax paper and trim the edges of the dough square. Roll the dough along the longest side like a jelly roll (Image 1). Gently curl the edge with your fingertips to avoid any air pockets as you roll the dough into a log. While rolling the dough, the black dough portion (which will be on the outside of the roll) may want to split or bark; pinch tears together as they happen and keep rolling. This is normal. After forming the dough into a log (Image 2), roll it in the nonpareils (Image 3). Wrap it in parchment paper and refrigerate until firm enough to slice — about 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice the dough into 1/4-inch thick cookies (Image 1), cutting carefully and avoiding the nonpareils, and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 12 to 15 minutes (Image 2). When done, cookies should be slightly puffed and no longer shiny on top. Cookie dough can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost in the refrigerator until soft enough to slice. Serve at your next Halloween bash (Image 3), and enjoy!

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