Home Recipes Technique Equipment Ingredients Blog

Chocolate Whirligigs

Chocolate Whirligigs.

I first made this recipe while in college and brought a few samples to class to share with some classmates. It was the beginning of the quarter and I didn’t know my new classmates well yet, so when I offered them some cookies and said that I had made them, they didn’t believe me. Apparently, not too many guys make cookies in college, so I had to describe in detail both the ingredients and how I made them before they reluctantly acknowledged that maybe I really had made them.

I don’t make a lot of refrigerator roll cookies since they are definitely a bit more effort than drop-style cookies. This is clearly evidenced by the 27 pictures in the complete recipe gallery. Nevertheless, the break that chilling dough in the refrigerator affords can sometimes be welcome. I took advantage of this and made these cookies over three days.

Chocolate Whirligigs.This was also the first recipe I had to try out my new rolling pin rings. I was thinking about making some myself when I saw these in a specialty shop in Santa Cruz. These little rings come in several thicknesses and go on your rolling pin, making it nearly impossible to roll dough of uneven thickness. A big pastry board or surface definitely helps, and your rolling pin can’t be curved. Getting each layer to be a nice rectangle is enough trouble, so I appreciated not having to worry about the thickness.

These cookies were pretty forgiving when it came to browning. I was a little worried once I realized after rolling that I was going to have chocolate edges on the cookies, which makes for more difficult diagnosis of doneness since the edges are already brown. I used the vanilla portions of the cookies as a guide and aimed for very light browning, which yielded a very delicate cookie, but you can also go for more pronounced browning if you want a crisper cookie.

The original recipe called for unsweetened chocolate, and although there are now excellent brands of unsweetened chocolate like Scharffen Berger, I opted to toss in the 87% Dagoba bar I had sitting around since it was also exactly 2 ounces. As much as I love dark chocolate, even I have limits, and 87% is just too dark for nibbling on. If you are curious, my preference is 72% – 76%. Even though 2 ounces didn’t seem like much, the chocolate flavor in the cookies is wonderful.

Take your time, roll out the dough carefully, and you just might have to convince people you made these yourself, too.

Ingredients for making Chocolate Whirligigs.

Mix 1 cup of room temperature butter, 1 cup sugar, 2 egg yolks and 2 teaspoons vanilla until light and fluffy.

Slowly mix in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk. Beat thoroughly until smooth.

Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 3 cups of flour and gently mix with whisk until blended.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the dough, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure even mixing.

Roll the dough into a ball and split into equal halves.

Slowly melt 2 ounces of dark chocolate in the microwave using short, 10 second bursts, stirring between heatings. Mix the melted chocolate into one half of the dough.

Wrap each half of the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Roll each dough half on lightly floured wax paper into a 9 x 13 inch rectangle. Trim edges as needed to get a nice rectangle, dusting rolling pin with flour as needed.

Make sure each half is the same size rectangle as any discrepancies in size will need to be trimmed and sacrificed to the dough tasters.

Carefully invert one layer over the other and remove the top sheet of wax paper. Tightly roll the dough from the short side into a roll, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Remove dough from refrigerator and gently press and roll it to get it back into round as best you can. Slice the dough into 3/8 inch slices. Slice all the dough at once or return to fridge between sheets, as slicing is difficult when dough warms.

Place cookie slices on ungreased cookie sheets 1 inch apart.

Bake in 375° F oven for 8 – 11 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.

Immediately remove cookies from baking sheets and transfer to cooling racks.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and exhaustive photo gallery can be found on the Chocolate Whirligigs recipe page.

  • when I saw the first picture, I was sure you were trying to hypnotize us!

  • Whirligig is such a great name for a cookie. 🙂
    And here’s a tip that I’ve come to realize after rolling out lots of dough rectangles — it’s easiest to get the final shape if the start shape is similar. So, if you pat it into a flat rectangle before you you chill it, it may be somewhat easier to get the final rectangle.

  • David, you’re getting sleepy…wait, no–you’re going to leave a comment on my blog. It worked!

    Nina, gee that makes so much sense I don’t know why I didn’t even think of it! I’ll update the steps to reflect this great advice!

  • Jef

    I’ve made loads of these back in my school days, they can be a pain but guests always like to see them.

    I got a good hint when you’re cutting them to keep them round.
    – Cut up the entire log and leave them where they are (cut slices still vertical all lined up in log form)
    – GENTLY roll the entire ‘log’ of slices back into round shape.
    – Carefully separate the slices and bake.

    It’s some extra work, but that’s what making these cookies are all about.

  • Jef, that’s another great bit of advice. Yeah, these are a little bit if a pain, but folks seem to be thrilled with the looks. I sliced my entire roll at once and placed on 3 sheets, so they stayed pretty round after a night in the fridge, but I bet this tip would have gotten them pretty much perfect. I also read about people using dental floss, but something tells me you don’t get as much control on thickness doing that.

    After a night in the fridge, even while resting in a baguette pan, it still got a little out of round. It took some pretty heft banging to get the dough back to round, which I also think helped kill any remaining air pockets I may have missed. Once the dough warmed up it was near impossible to work with, so maybe if I sliced them all, let it warm a little, then gently rolled it, perfection.

  • Bev

    I made some of these recently, they looked great like yours but weren’t very interesting flavour wise. I should try your recipe and see if I prefer it. They are so impressive looking!

  • Bev: These are definitely simple on flavor, but using good chocolate definitely helps add a little more depth.

  • I have never made roll cookies! I love your photo directions, makes it look easy! Love them!

  • Leslie: roll cookies are a little more work, but they aren’t really much more difficult than drop cookies.

  • Those are so cute 🙂 I will definitely have to try them out. I haven’t baked anything in so long…

  • Waht a talented person you are. Your confections are divine. Have you ever tried baking or making candy with Mexican chocolate? That is what I work with. I’d be curious to find out how you like it. Wonderful blog.

  • Sally

    Oh my word, these were just divine! I am about to have my second go making them, using a better quality chocolate to see if that will make them better (although I doubt that is possible!)

    I will definitely be keeping up with your blog from now on.

  • Dawn: Give them a try. I’m always amazed at how much appearance counts in cookies. People just love these.

    Teresa: Thanks, I haven’t tried candies with Mexican chocolate. Most Mexican chocolate I have had is very grainy, what brand do you recommend to put this reputation to rest?

    Sally: Second go at it, wow! I think good chocolate helps a little, even when they are baked in. Fortunately the selection of “baker’s chocolate” has expanded in the last decade. I think you even a 70% dark chocolate would be fine, too.

  • This looks amazing! They look so fun to eat – reminds me of Alice in Wonderland and the cat’s swirly eyes 🙂 Great recipe!

  • Brian, In response to your question about Mexican Chocolate, I normally use Abuelita. I like it better than Ibarra. Yes, it is grainy because of all the sugar in it, but it seems to melt just fine. I’m not saying it’s as smooth as American or European chocolate, but the uniqueness of the flavor makes up for any texture-type faults you may find. I have created an ecookbook using Mexican chocolate that I would love to give to you, if you would like. If so, please email me and I will send it.

  • I tried your recipe lastnight and used my healthy chocolate, it turned out excellent! Thank you for this!

  • Yesterday I tried out your Chocolate Whirligigs recipe. It was so easy to follow and my 7 year old boy really enjoyed making and eating it. He also shared this with his friends. Great stuff!

  • Glad you liked it. Rolled cookies seem like more work until you see the great reaction they get from people. They are worth it.

  • Gil

    i would like to tell you that you have a fasinate website
    nice recipt of chocolate cakes and cookies
    we have a portal in chocolate subject in israel
    you can have look if you want
    good luck

  • Thank you Gil, makes me wish I could read Hebrew!

  • Thanks for the recipe. The colors are great also. I agree that 87% dark chocolate is too much. I prefer around 65%.

  • I have never seen any variations of this cookie, but I am definitely intrigued. I think they are too cute! (in a manly way of course!) I am also very intrigued by this cookie rolling pin rings.. will have to put them on my wish list for sure!

  • toy

    nice recipe and looks Delicious!! i will try your recipe for my bday!!