Rainbow or Tie-Dye Cookies

How fun are these? This past summer there was a large bat mitzvah celebration at my synagogue, and most of the cookies were white or brown. I decided to make a brightly colored cookie that would help brighten up the cookie trays.

I was inspired by the invitation, which is similar to this design (the artist is the girl’s aunt). I looked all through Pinterest and Google, trying to find a swirly, tie-dye-like sugar cookie that I could use. Unfortunately, almost everything I found was either straight rainbow or relied on decoration. I was inspired by the way this cake roll looked and rolling sprinkles into the dough like in these cookies, but otherwise I made the technique up on the fly.

I used a great sugar cookie dough perfected by a friend of mine. I divided the finished dough into five rough portions, and colored them using Betty Crocker gel food coloring (both classic and neon colors). In my case, I decided to use typical rainbow colors – purple (using neon purple), blue (using classic blue), green (using classic green), yellow with a hint of orange (using classic yellow and a bit of neon orange), and a deep pink (using neon pink). Obviously you could use as many or as few colors as you’d like – this would also be amazing as an ombre cookie.

The dough was refrigerated until firm. The dough packages were laid out in the order I wanted to keep them in. Small amounts of dough were rolled into snakes about 1/2″ diameter (roughly), and placed on a parchment sheet. It is important to keep a 2-3″ border around the dough, to allow space to roll out the dough.

I did two to two and a half repetitions of the colors, depending on the roll as I was playing around with what worked best. After finishing the ropes of color, I put another parchment sheet across the top, and used my hands to smooth the dough into more of a smooth surface. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough out an inch or two up and down the lines of color. The stripes will still look the same when you’re just rolling along them.

Gently turn the parchment, and roll in the other direction, perpendicular to the lines of color. You want to roll gently, and not too much, as the colors will really blend into one another and the edges will get pretty ragged. You can use a butter knife to help clean up the edges, and use the removed dough to fill in holes (see the above picture). Don’t worry too much about it, as variation works well in these cookies.

Sprinkle the dough with clear or silver decorator sugar (this was Cake Mate’s Shimmer White Sugar), then start to roll it up. Wrap the rolled log in plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze until firm.

Slice 1/2″ slices (yes, they will look very fat) from the chilled log, and place on a parchment-lined sheet. I tried baking them as is, and squished, and much preferred the look and size of the “squished” ones. So, place the fat slices on the cookie sheet, then cover with plastic wrap (like that that had wrapped your cookie log) and flatten with a glass or measuring cup until it’s about 1/4″ thick.

I really love the swirl of colors and the glints of the coarse sugar peeking out here and there. While these do take a little bit of time, they do go relatively quick and are incredibly inviting to eat.

Rainbow or Tie-Dye Cookies

Rainbow or Tie-Dye Cookies

Recipe from Kay Lynne Dubinsky

  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  • Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together. Gradually add to mixer (just so the flour doesn't fly everywhere), and mix just until fully combined.
  • Divide the mixture into 5 portions, and place each in a bowl. You can weigh them if you want them to be perfectly divided, but it's fine if they are "close enough." Use food coloring to dye each bowl a different color - use whatever colors appeal to you and whatever intensity of color you like.
  • Wrap each portion of dough in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm.
  • Remove all dough from the refrigerator. Cut a chunk of dough from each color, and roll each into a long snake, roughly 12 inches long and 1/4-1/2" thick. Lay snakes next to each other on a sheet of parchment paper. Make sure there is a 2-3" border of parchment around the dough, to allow room to roll it out, so if needed you can trim the snakes. I did two and a half repetitions of the colors, but you can vary between two and three repetitions.
  • Lay another sheet of parchment paper on top, and gently press on the snakes with your hands, so they come together a little. Use a rolling pin to gently roll the dough out an inch or two up and down the lines of color (parallel to the snakes of dough); the easiest way is to rotate the parchment paper 90 degrees from how they were laid out. The stripes will still look the same when you're just rolling along them.
  • Gently turn the parchment back 90 degrees, and roll in the other direction, perpendicular to the lines of color. You want to roll gently, and not too much, as the colors will really blend into one another and the edges will get pretty ragged. You can use a butter knife to help clean up the edges, and use the removed dough to fill in holes (see the above picture). Don't worry too much about it, as variation works well in these cookies.
  • Sprinkle the dough with clear or silver decorator sugar (this was Cake Mate's Shimmer White Sugar), then start to roll it up. Starting at one end, parallel to the original ropes of color, gently start to roll the dough, making sure it's tight so that there won't be gaps. Wrap the rolled log in plastic wrap, and refrigerate or freeze until firm.
  • Repeat with the remainder of dough; I ended up with 4 or 5 logs of dough.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Slice fat slices, about 1/2" thick, from each roll of dough. Place the slices on a parchment-lined sheet. Place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, like that used to make the dough logs or wrap them, on top of the slices. Use a glass or measuring cup to gently flatten each cookie until it's about 1/4" thick. You need to use the plastic wrap or parchment to keep the cookies from sticking.
  • Once all cookies are flattened, place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges and the center of the cookie is set.
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