Black Cocoa and Peppermint Pinwheels

published Dec 3, 2021
Black Cocoa and Peppermint Pinwheels Recipe

Extra-dark cocoa powder is the star ingredient in these peppermint pinwheels.

Makesabout 35 (3-inch) cookies

Prep30 minutes

Cook11 minutes to 13 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

This recipe is from our Cookie Time Machine — a trip through the most iconic cookies of the past 10 decades, paired with 10 fresh twists for right now. Click here to see the most important cookies of the 1920s through today — and gaze forward with our Cookie of the Future!

If there ever was a prettier cookie than this black cocoa and peppermint pinwheel, then it has yet to cross my path. Black and pink is a fantastic color combo, and these cookies showcase it beautifully, due to black cocoa powder and a generous hand with red food coloring. Not only are these cookies gorgeous, but they’re also both deeply chocolatey and wonderfully minty — as well as texturally trippy, as they succeed in being both soft and chewy, as well as a little crunchy, due to the finely chopped candy canes studded throughout.

I am a huge fan of the black cocoa powder called for here, but if you cannot find it, or don’t want to track it down, I get you: Dutch processed will work just fine. The same goes for food coloring: If it is just not your jam, use less, or none at all — the pinwheels will still be lovely if the black dough encircles a white, rather than pink, dough speckled with the red candy. But if you do jump on the food coloring train, note well that the color of the cookie is the same both pre- and post-bake. In other words, what you see when you first add the coloring is what you will see when you pull the cookies from the oven — the color will not fade as they bake.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

Assembly of the dough is a lickety-split affair, thank you very much. The dough is then divided in half and each is flavored and colored separately. To save time, the two doughs are rolled out immediately, each between two sheets of parchment and refrigerated briefly, before being rolled up together in a log. The peppermint dough can be a tad sticky, due to the food coloring, but if it’s proving temperamental, just stick it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up. And remember that parchment paper is your friend here, as you roll and shape these swirly sweets. After a couple of hours in the fridge, the dough log is ready to slice and bake. Bake off all of the cookies or just a few and stash the rest of the roll in the fridge or freezer for your next round of guests.

The Classic

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Prop Styling: JoJo Li

For the classic 1930s cookie recipe, check out the Old-School Pinwheel Cookies.

Our Three Most-Loved Cookie-Baking Tools

Before you preheat the oven, gear up with these cookie-making essentials.

  • The Sheet Pan Every Kitchn Editor Owns: This sturdy, won’t-ever-warp pan is great for cranking out a ton of picture-perfect sweets. Bonus: It comes in great colors, which makes baking even more fun.
  • Our Tried-and-Tested Favorite Cooling Rack: We love these racks for their criss-cross design, which adds stability, makes sure your precious treats won’t slip though, and prevents the rack from wobbling or warping.
  • The Little Spatula That Every Baker Needs: This thin-but-sturdy spatula is great for gently loosening your cookies from the pan and transferring them to the cooling rack. It’s particularly handy for moving small or delicate treats.

Black Cocoa and Peppermint Pinwheels Recipe

Extra-dark cocoa powder is the star ingredient in these peppermint pinwheels.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 11 minutes to 13 minutes

Makes about 35 (3-inch) cookies

Nutritional Info


  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 5

    candy canes

  • 4 ounces

    semisweet chocolate or 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1

    large egg

  • 2 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    peppermint extract

  • 10

    drops red gel food coloring, or 25 drops red food coloring

  • 3 tablespoons

    black or Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1

    large egg yolk


Make the cookies:

  1. Place 2 sticks unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Let sit at room temperature until softened. Meanwhile, unwrap 5 candy canes and place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Smash with a rolling pin until finely crushed (about 1/3 cup).

  2. Coarsely chop 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and place in a small microwave-safe bowl (no need to chop if using 2/3 cup chocolate chips). Microwave on high in 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst, until melted and smooth, about 1 1/2 minutes total.

  3. Add 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to the butter. Beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until lightened in color and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as needed with a flexible spatula, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add 1 large egg and beat on medium speed until incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 1 minute. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and beat until just a few streaks remain. Finish mixing by hand with a flexible spatula. Transfer half the dough (about 13 1/2 ounces) on a sheet of parchment paper.

  5. Add 1 teaspoon peppermint extract, red food coloring of choice (10 drops gel or 25 drops regular), and the crushed candy canes to the remaining dough in the mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined, scraping the bowl about halfway through, about 1 minute total. Transfer the peppermint cookie dough to a second sheet of parchment paper.

  6. If the mixer bowl has streaks of food coloring or candy cane residue in it, scrape it out with a flexible spatula or wipe it out with a paper towel. Return the first half of the dough to the mixer. Add the melted chocolate, 3 tablespoons black cocoa powder, and 1 large egg yolk. Mix on the lowest speed until just combined, stopping and scraping down the bowl halfway through, about 30 seconds total. Do not over mix. Return the dough to the sheet of parchment paper.

  7. Shape the mint dough, still on its parchment paper, with your hands into a rough rectangle with a long side closer to you. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper over it and roll out into a rough 12 1/2 x 8 1/2-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Slide the dough, still between parchment, onto a baking sheet. Repeat rolling out the chocolate dough and slide on top of the mint dough. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  8. Remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator and remove the top sheets of parchment from both doughs. Flip the mint dough over onto the chocolate dough. Position so a long side is closer to you. With the parchment still covering the mint dough, roll the two doughs together into a rough 13 3/4 x 9 1/2-inch rectangle. Uncover and trim the edges to form a 12x9-inch rectangle.

  9. Beginning with the long side closest to you, tightly roll up the dough into a log, using the bottom piece of parchment paper to help you. If you get to the end of the log and notice some of the pink filling poking out of the seam, use your fingers to press a little of the chocolate dough over the pink to cover. Keep the log covered in parchment paper and refrigerate for 2 hours, rolling it along the counter every 30 minutes to help maintain its round shape.

Bake the cookies:

  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 350ºF.

  2. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the dough log and trim the ends of the log. Cut off 18 (1/4-inch thick) slices. Rewrap the remaining dough and return to the refrigerator. Transfer the slices to the baking sheets, spacing them evenly apart.

  3. Bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets between racks and from front to back, and bake until the cookies are dry and set, about 5 minutes more. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely. Repeat baking the remaining dough on cooled baking sheets (you can reuse the parchment).

Recipe Notes

Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.