I’m grateful for my grandmother’s recipes that have stood the test of time. She is the inspiration for these charming pumpkin-pie spice scented Thanksgiving Pinwheel Cookies. There’s a lot of heart in these!
Of all my cookie recipes, my grandmother’s Pinwheel Cookies are my favorite. I’ve used the same basic recipe and adapted it to make my Dizzy Dreidel Hanukah Pinwheel cookies, Tipsy Elf Christmas Pinwheel Cookies and now I’m adding in a new twist.
Grateful Heart Pinwheel Cookies.
My grandmother was a very patient and kind woman. She didn’t have much for most of her life. She lost her husband when she was quite young and took care of her invalid sister for most of her adult life. But I never heard her complain. Her cookie jar and her heart were always full.
It makes perfect sense to me to stick a heart in the middle of her pinwheel cookies. Not only are these pinwheel cookies delicious… Just smelling Pinwheel cookies makes my heart feel full.
My small taste tester enjoyed his cookies with a big mug of milk. Somewhere, I’m sure my grandmother was smiling.
My grandmother’s basic pinwheel cookie recipe is all you need to start with.
Note: Her normal recipe calls for chocolate. My daughter is a total weirdo and hates chocolate so we did our cookies (pictured here) with tinted and untinted vanilla dough. They are equally appealing if you use the chocolate. I’m including the original recipe below, along with the modification necessary to turn these into the grateful heart cookies pictured above.
Basic Pinwheel Cookies Recipe
- 8oz butter
- 1 c sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 3 c flour
- 3 tsp baking powder
- about 6 TBSP milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
Combine butter, sugar & egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat together till smooth. Add flour and baking powder alternately with milk. Add vanilla.
Knead dough lightly by hand and divide into two balls. Return one ball to mixer and mix in melted chocolate. Divide chocolate dough into two balls. Divide vanilla dough into two balls.
Take one chocolate and one vanilla ball.
Spread out waxed paper on counter, about 17 inches long. Smash a ball of vanilla dough slightly onto the waxed paper. Smash a ball of chocolate on top of the vanilla dough. Press down gently and evenly to flatten the two together and then carefully roll out the two evenly into a 9×13 inch rectangle. Be sure to leave extra wax paper along the edges.
Starting at the long edge, roll the dough up jelly-roll style into a 13 inch long log. Use the edge of the wax paper to help lift and shape your log – but take care not to roll the wax paper into the log itself!
Grateful Hearts Thanksgiving Pinwheel Cookies Modification
Prep the cookie dough:
For this recipe you will split the dough into three balls before coloring/flavoring – two larger and one a little smaller.
Mix chocolate into one of the larger balls as in basic recipe. Set aside to chill in fridge. Note: Simply set one larger ball of plain dough in fridge to chill if you do not desire any chocolate in your cookies.
Add 2-3 drops of orange food coloring and 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice to the second large ball of dough. Mix thoroughly & set aside to chill.
Break a chunk of dough off the third, smaller ball (about 1/4 of the ball) and knead a drop or two of green food coloring into this small bit of of dough. Set aside and chill.
Color and flavoring the remaining dough with 1/8 tsp pumpkin pie spice and red food coloring. Chill.
Make the cookie heart core:
Roll out the red dough and cut out hearts. Stack the hearts together. This will form the core of your sliced cookie. Wrap this core gently in waxed paper and return to the fridge to keep it firm.
Roll out your dough as you would for regular pinwheel cookies. You can smash the balls together and roll both at once or roll separately on wax paper, as I have done here. I sliced a straight edge to lay the core along and then rolled up like I usually do, following the same instructions and wrapping the roll in waxed paper, just like my grandmother used to. It’s important to return to the fridge for at least an hour as this dough needs to be good and cold for the best results while slicing and baking.
Stick on a Stem:
I rolled the green dough into little snakes, and then dunked it in sprinkles before tacking onto the top of each grateful heart cookie. It would make sense to pre-assemble these so you can quickly stick them on as you slice.
Slice and Bake:
Slicing the cookies is my favorite part. There’s always “big reveal” moment and it’s a thrill. They look a little like a social media icon don’t they?
I wasn’t entirely satisfied with this batch. I think I need to find a smaller heart cookie cutter to use for the core, so that there is a greater ratio of pinwheel to heart. But I still love how happy and full of heart they look. And of course they taste great. This recipe is no fail.
They smell fantastic while baking. Thankfully they get done in 8-10 minutes so you won’t have to wait long to taste them!