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These holiday cookies are your ticket to winning the holiday cookie swap. (Not that it's a competition, right?)


Credit: Caitlin Bensel

Recipe Summary

35 mins
2 hrs 10 mins
about 24 cookies

This is the batch of holiday cookies to take to the annual cookie swap, thanks to their inviting pinwheel shape and crave-worthy cream cheese glaze. These pinwheel cookies are reminiscent of a cinnamon roll, but they borrow their warm spiced flavor from trendy Swedish cardamom buns. The key to nicely round and even cookies is freezing the log of dough before slicing, so make sure not to skip this crucial step. For other festive flavor profiles, replace the cardamom with pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice, or classic cinnamon.


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg and 2 teaspoons vanilla; continue beating, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, beating until dough comes together, about 1 minute.

  • Shape dough into a rough ball. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 14-by-10-inch rectangle (1/8-inch thick). Stir together sanding sugar and cardamom in a small bowl. Remove top sheet of parchment and sprinkle dough with sanding sugar mixture. Working from longer side of rectangle, slowly and tightly roll dough into a log, using parchment to help lift and roll dough as you go. Wrap log in parchment and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove log from freezer and slice crosswise into ½-inch-thick rounds. Transfer to baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between cookies.

  • Bake until lightly browned around edges, about 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

  • Beat confectioners' sugar, milk, cream cheese, and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cookies. Let glaze dry completely before storing cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.