However...before I sound like a really bitter, awful person who hates on Valentine's Day in spite of the majority of the population's general approval of the holiday, I must say there are two good things about it. Really, there are. The first doesn't really apply anymore, but it goes wayyy back to elementary school. I mean, who didn't love getting those cute little cards from your classmates?! They usually came accompanied with a tiny chocolate, or a red heart-shaped lollipop, and they were awesome. Any opportunity for some free candy was always welcome when I was younger. Awesome Valentine's Day thing number two: Valentine's Day colors are red and pink, with pink obviously being the more important of the two, for me at least anyway. I love pink. Valentine's Day gives me the excuse to make all things pink, without having to pay attention to how bright or obnoxious the shade of pink may be. Like these slice-and-bake pink spiral cookies. The pink is super bright and very in-your-face, but whatever. I love them.
Slice-and-bake cookies are classic cookies: they're so easy, anyone can make them! Making them from scratch isn't that hard either, it just takes a little extra time to allow the dough to refrigerate properly so that it is firm enough to roll up into a log and eventually slice. These cookies are made in a food processor, so they couldn't be any simpler; just throw everything in and process!
Another great thing about these spiral cookies is that they can be very easily adapted to suit any flavor or any holiday. Make a bright green spiral for St. Patrick's Day, red and green for Christmas, pastel colors for Easter, and a chocolate and orange spiral would look great for Halloween. As far as flavorings go, simply substitute any flavored extract of your choice for the strawberry extract used here; you also can coordinate the flavoring with the color you choose to make the spiral! When choosing a food coloring for the spiral, I recommend using food coloring in gel form, because this way you get an intense color change without having to add any liquid or moisture to the dough, which could affect its final texture. I used Wilton food color gels (Rose in this case), and the pink color I got at the end was perfect!
These spiral slice-and-bake cookies are the perfect cookie to make for Valentine's Day; they're obviously related to the holiday, given the bright pink color and the little heart-shaped sprinkles, but they're also discrete enough that they don't scream Valentine's Day so obviously. The fact that they're also pretty delicious is also a good thing I suppose. Try them out for yourself!
Spiral Slice-and-Bake Cookies
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract (or any other flavor)
1/2 teaspoon Rose food coloring (I used Wilton food gels; feel free to use whatever colors you like!)
1 1/2 cup sprinkles/nonpareils of your choice
Combine 2 cups of flour, baking powder, salt, and both sugars in a food processor, and pulse briefly to mix together. Add the diced butter, and pulse until the mixture reaches the consistency of cornmeal. Add the vanilla extract, and process completely until the mixture forms a ball. Divide the ball of dough in half, and return one half to the food processor. Add the strawberry extract, food coloring, and remaining 2 tablespoons of flour to the food processor and process until just incorporated and the color is evenly distributed.
Roll each half of dough between two sheets of waxed paper, until you obtain a rectangle that is 1/8 inch in thickness, and is about 8 1/2 by 11 inches (use a sheet of paper for reference). Leave the dough between the sheets of waxed paper and place on a baking sheet; refrigerate the dough until firm, at least 2 hours.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Peel off the top sheet of waxed paper from each dough. Using the waxed paper still attached to the strawberry dough, carefully invert it over the vanilla dough so that they are stacked. Press with your fingers to seal the two doughs together. Remove the top sheet of waxed paper, and trim the edges so that they are even.
When the dough begins to become just pliable, begin to roll it up like a jellyroll, beginning on the long side and using the last piece of waxed paper to help you. Gently curl the edges in as you roll to avoid forming any air pockets as you roll the dough into a log. If the outer vanilla roll begins to tear, pinch them together using leftover vanilla dough scraps, and keep rolling.
After forming the log, discard the remaining piece of waxed paper. Add the sprinkles to a shallow baking dish that is big enough to fit the roll of cookie dough. Gently place the roll into the baking dish, and roll around in the sprinkles, pressing down just slightly, until the entire outer surface is covered in them. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours, or until firm enough to slice.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Using a sharp knife, slice the log into 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch slices, and place on silicone or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake the cookies for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cookies are no longer shiny on the top, and the vanilla parts of the bottom of the cookies are golden brown. Allow to cool slightly on the baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.