Pinwheel Lunchbox Cookies


I feel strongly that any decent lunch ends with a cookie. It will come as little surprise then that I also have very strong feelings about what type of cookie is superlative. It has to be dry, or maybe crumbly is a better descriptor, but what I mean is that I don’t think 12:00 pm is the time for ooey-gooey. 12:00 am, maybe, but my perfect lunchtime treat leaves me with just enough sugar to fortify me for the remaining work hours but not enough to check my dessert box for the whole day. Do I think too much about cookies? It has just occurred to me that maybe I do, but what else is there to think about? Like actually?


So crumbly, not ooey-gooey is the first factor. The second is that there probably should be a chocolate element. This is not to say that I dislike cookies without chocolate; I think a fine oatmeal raisin cookie is one of the most grossly underrated in the cookie canon. It’s just that I know from experience that the combination of irritating coworkers and fluorescent lighting leaves me wanting, no needing, chocolate more often than not. Better safe than sorry on this one.


Lastly (and some will see this as frivolousness), is that I think the perfect lunchbox cookie must be slightly whimsical. Can the cookie be turned into the shape of an animal?
A peanut butter owl? A pumpkin spiced jack-o-lantern? This is good, do that. A healthy dose of sprinkles is likewise appreciated–bonus points if they are rainbow colored, double points if they are rainbow colored and sparkly. Or even if they can be made into a cute shape or pattern, like a pinwheel or a checkerboard. Literally anything to take me out of my corporate al desko lunch and remind me that when I leave my job, I do what I love. The perfect pick me up.


Pinwheel Lunchbox Cookies

Pinwheel Lunchbox Cookies

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 egg white at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • large sugar sprinkles, for edges (optional)

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium for 3 minutes (scrape the bowl down halfway through!). Reduce mixer speed to low and add egg white and vanilla. Add flour gradually. Dump out dough onto a clean surface and use your hands to gather it up in a ball. Cut in half. Set one half aside and return other half to mixer. Add cocoa powder and mix until thoroughly combined.

Cut out four pieces of parchment paper or use pre-cut sheets. Place vanilla dough on top of one sheet of parchment and top with another piece of parchment. Use rolling pin to roll down dough into a rectangle-ish shape 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with chocolate dough (try to make the same sort of general shape as the vanilla). Stack the slabs on a sheet pan and place them in the fridge for just a few minutes to make them easier to handle. Once they have chilled briefly, take them out and peel the parchment off of the top of vanilla slab. Do the same with the chocolate slab and then lay the bare sided chocolate slab right on top of the vanilla. Peel the top of the parchment off of the chocolate slab. Start rolling up the dough up in a spiral along the long side of the dough, taking care to keep the roll as tight as possible.

Transfer roll to a piece of plastic wrap and wrap the ends tightly like you’re wrapping a big piece of candy. If you plan to bake right away, placing the log in the freezer for 20 minutes or so will help you get neat slices. Alternatively you can freeze the log completely if you plan to use another time, but leave it on the counter for 20-30 minutes to soften slightly before slicing or the log will crumble.

In either case, when you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 350°. Use a sharp knife to slice 1/4 inch slices from the log. Roll the edges in large sugar sprinkles and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back halfway through.

Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Do-Almost-Anything Cookie Dough. 

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