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Kaleidoscope Cookies for Crafty Wonderland

May 03, 2010

Tasty food was not a very big part of this weekend’s Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Spring Sale, though some folks in a booth adjacent to ours sold very sweet-looking felt cakes and cookies. Joe’s tape art itself is not very edible.

That’s why I once again made crazily colorful kaleidoscope cookies for attendees who stopped by to browse. It’s a teeny little bit of hospitality to share, as the cookies themselves are about the size and thickness of poker chips, and people don’t tend to take more than one. And the cookies match the colors of the art, so it’s fun to watch people’s reactions to them; they assume that the kaleidoscope cookies are just ugly crafts, since they appear to be made out of Play-Doh or Fimo.  “No,” I’d say to people who asked or just looked at the cookies quizzically, “they’re shortbread cookies with lots of artificial color. Please help yourself to one.”

The last time I made these, I think the design looked better (I also had a larger palate of food coloring gel). The spiral pattern is a little harder to manage with soft cookie dough than Fimo. But kaleidoscope cookies are great to make when you need a bunch of smallish cookies without too much fuss, which is why the recipe is in the “Cookies for a Crowd” section of the Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book.

They’re very crunchy and can go a number of ways with the flavoring—I used a generous splash of vanilla extract and a relatively large amount of almond extract, since you need punchy flavor to cut through the flour. In my adaptation below, I converted the volume measurements to weight measurements, since it’s a much faster and more accurate method for putting large amounts of cookie dough together.

Kaleidoscope Cookies

Makes 10-15 dozen

“We also call these cookies Summer Pastels,” says the Cooky Book. Well, mine are not summery or pastel, but the name is nice, isn’t it? These are somewhat plain tasting, but the almond extract adds a little spark, and an outer ring of rainbow sprinkles (or, as I call them, jimmies) sort of melts and caramelizes in the oven to add a sugary crunch. Substituting lots of rose flower water for the almond and vanilla extracts in the dough and a coating of rose-tinted decorator’s sugar would make very pretty, old-fashioned cookies that would be lovely at a wedding shower (and maybe use a lighter hand with the food coloring, too).

  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 11 ounces (2 cups unsifted) powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pound 6 ounces (about 4-½ cups) all-purpose flour
  • Various colors of food coloring paste or gel, optional
  • ½ to 1 cup rainbow jimmies, colored decorating sugar, or finely chopped nuts

In an electric stand mixer, beat the butter with a paddle attachment until it is creamy. Add the powdered sugar and salt and beat for several minutes, until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and no lumps of powdered sugar remain. Beat in the almond and vanilla extracts, then add the flour and beat until a soft dough forms.

Now comes the fun part. If you want very brightly colored cookies, divide the dough into one section per color (use a scale if you want to divide the dough evenly). Add at least 4 to 6 drops of the coloring paste if you want very saturated colors and knead until the color is evenly distributed (you can do this on low in the mixer if your bowl is clean). If the dough is very soft, chill it until it forms up but is still pliable.

To make a spiral, pat each color of dough into a ¼-inch thick rectangle. Gently stack one rectangle on top of the other and roll up into a big log (I just sort of improvised this part, so I don’t have exact dimensions—just to what works).

To make a three-part design, just divide the dough in thirds, tint each third, and roll each tinted segment into a log about a foot long. Then squish the three logs into one long log and roll until they fuse together.

Gently roll and squish the finished log until it’s about a foot long. Then cut it in half to form two logs and roll each one of those until you have a number of logs that are 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter—I wound up with eight logs, each roughly 9 inches long. If desired, place the rainbow jimmies on a large, shallow plate and roll each log to coat. Wrap the logs in wax or parchment paper and chill overnight or freeze up to a month.

If the logs were frozen, allow them to that on the counter overnight. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the logs and, with a sharp knife, slice them into coins about 1/3-inch thick. Place on ungreased cookie sheets (the cookies will not spread much as they bake). Bake two sheets at a time for about 12 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until the cookies have firmed up but are not browned. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for…well, I’m not sure how long. Our have never been around for more than three days, but I bet a week or even two wouldn’t hurt these buggers.  

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book


May. 13, 2014 | Takashi said:

Littlelotto,Yes! You can melt milk clatohoce. However milk clatohoce is a bit more heat sensitive then darker clatohoce so it takes a bit more care. You can lower the melting temperature a bit more and check and stir it a little more often and it should melt for you!Good luck!Ashley

May. 13, 2014 | Candido said:

that, I usually fill a small mug full of choaolcte to melt and I probably add about 1-2 tsp of oil to it. It's not an exact science though. The more you add, the softer your choaolcte will be and the longer it will take to set so you don't want to add too much. But you can always add more as your choaolcte is melting or even after it is melted all the way if you need to!Thanks!Ashley

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