Twisted Cookies ~ With Rolled-In Sugar

by Lynne on February 25, 2012

Twisted Cookies

My Mom and I made Twisted Cookies for the first time in 1959 from a recipe printed on the inside of a cake yeast wrapper. My Mom made bread from scratch, without a recipe, and this tricky and unique recipe using yeast was right up her alley. When I left home and married, this recipe went right along with me. You might say I have been leaving a trail of Twisted Cookies behind me for the last 48 years. This is our family cookie and I only make them at Christmas time. If I ask my older son (age 42) what he wants for Christmas, he always says, “You know what I want, Mom.” And my older daughter and grand daughter have taken up the baton and are making their own Twisted Cookies now, carrying on the tradition.

My two older beautiful red heads, David and Anna, as teenagers at Christmas in 1986 with their gift cans of Twisted Cookies

My two older beautiful red heads, David and Anna, as teenagers at Christmas in 1986 with their gift cans of Twisted Cookies

In fact, originally I was going to call my blog Twisted Cookie. I even have a photo file on my computer called Twisted Cookie pics that I took in anticipation of my blog launch. I looked online to see if the domain name was free and it was! The next day I went to purchase it and someone had bought it and was offering it for sale for $16,000. I was furious and I cried. I had never thought of calling my blog anything else, so I had no Plan B. My blog was ready to launch and had no name. It took me 6 months to come up with a new blog name I felt I could live with. But that is a story for another post.

The Twisted Cookie Affair Menu in 1992

The Twisted Cookie Affair Menu in 1992

In 1992 I took my third hands-on cooking class in culinary school at UCLA. At the end of the quarter, we prepared a banquet for about 100 friends and relatives. It was held at historic Castle Green in Pasadena. If you go to their website and look at photos 10-12 in the gallery, you will see the gorgeous dining room we were so lucky to use. During the quarter, all the students brought different dishes we thought might go on the menu, and one of mine was my Twisted Cookies. They liked them so much, they decided to call our event The Twisted Cookie Affair. The other recipes that were mine were the Potato Blocks and the Chocolate Praline Terrine, both of which may appear on this blog at some point. In retrospect, I cannot fathom why the potatoes were given such a pedestrian title. Couldn’t we have called them Potatoes Lynnaise or something. Lol. Oh well, I was younger then.

I have already told the story of my second culinary school banquet in 1995 in my post titled Mini Lemon Tartlets and a Culinary School Banquet, which you can read here. That was the class where I had to seduce the other students into using my recipes, one of which was my Twisted Cookies. You can see one on the plate above at that banquet  sitting proudly with the Mini Lemon Tart, Sabayon and Berries.

Twisted Cookies 11

The Twisted Cookies photographed for this post were made at Christmas 2011, and the whole batch went to my older son for one of his gifts. It made him very happy. Here is how you make them:

After the dough is made, it is divided in two, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

After the dough is made, it is divided in two, wrapped in plastic and refrigerated.

The dough is rolled out over half the vanilla sugar and the excess around the edges is scooped up and rolled in on top.

The dough is rolled out over half the vanilla sugar and the excess around the edges is scooped up and rolled in on top.

The dough is folded in thirds and rolled out, and folded and rolled two more times.

The dough is folded in thirds and rolled out, and folded and rolled two more times.

The edges are trimmed to form a neat rectangle.

The edges are trimmed to form a neat rectangle.

 The dough is sliced in half, and each half divided in two. Just eyeball it.

The dough is sliced in half, and each half divided in two. Just eyeball it.

Each of the four slices is divided in two to form 8 1-inch strips.

Each of the four slices is divided in two to form 8 1-inch strips.

The cutting board is turned so the long side is facing you and the strips are cut in half, and each half divided in two to form 32 4x1-inch strips.

The cutting board is turned so the long side is facing you and the strips are cut in half, and each half divided in two to form 32 4x1-inch strips.

 Each strip is twisted 2 times and placed on an ungreased foil-covered sheet.

Each strip is twisted 2 times and placed on an ungreased foil-covered sheet.

They are baked to a golden brown and the sugar on the bottom caramelizes. The sugary top is crispy, and the yeasty pastry dough inside is soft and layered. I bet you have never had anything like this.

They are baked to a golden brown and the sugar on the bottom caramelizes. The sugary top is crispy, and the yeasty pastry dough inside is soft and layered. I bet you have never had anything like this.

Twisted Cookies 10

Print Recipe Print Recipe

Twisted Cookies ~ with Rolled-In Sugar

Yield: 64 cookies

2 ¼ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (1 pkg) (NOT Rapid Rise, Pizza Crust or Bread Machine)
¼ cup warm water (100 – 110 degrees F)
½ teaspoon sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup salted butter (2 sticks), chilled, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line 1 cookie sheet with foil. Double pan to bake.

1. In a warm medium bowl, combine water, yeast and sugar. Proof until frothy, about 10 minutes.

2. In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Cut butter into flour until rice-size with two knives or pastry cutter.

3. In the medium bowl, mix eggs, sour cream and vanilla into the yeast mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the large bowl with the flour. Stir thoroughly with a fork to make a dough.

4. Divide the dough into 2 patties, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. Place patties side by side, not stacked to assure even cooling. My patties were 18.5 oz each.

5. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix together the sugar and vanilla until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap so the sugar doesn’t dry out.

6. On a dry surface, place ½ of the vanilla sugar. Place one patty of dough on the vanilla sugar (leaving the other patty in the refrigerator) and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle. Scoop up all the sugar from around the edges and spread evenly over top of dough.

7. With the long edge toward you, fold both edges toward the center, making 3 equal layers. Turn one quarter around and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle. Scoop up any extra sugar and smooth onto the dough. Do not discard any of the vanilla sugar. Use it all.

8. Fold and roll into a 16 x 8-inch rectangle 2 more times. The dough should be about 1/4-inch thick.

9. Trim the edges slightly with a sharp knife to as perfect a rectangle as possible.

10. With the knife, cut the dough the long way into eight 1-inch wide strips. Cut each 16 x 1-inch strip into 4 equal pieces, each 4 inches long.

11. Twist half (16) of the 4 x 1-inch strips 2 times, over-twisting to stretch the dough in the middle. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make sure the dough twist lies flat on the sheet. You may need to fan out the layers on the ends  somewhat to make sure each is touching the sheet. Press down a little to help it adhere.

12. Double pan. Bake at 375 degrees F, 15 – 20 minutes or until a rich golden brown.  With a spatula, remove from sheet immediately before the caramelized sugar hardens and sticks to the foil. Cool on a rack.

13. Discard foil on cookie sheet and replace with new foil. Repeat with remaining 16 dough strips.

14. Start over with the second dough ball and remaining half of sugar.

Note: Store in airtight container at room temperature for 3 days. Freeze in ziplock freezer bag for 2 weeks. Defrost at room temperature with top of bag unzipped, so that moisture can evaporate and not melt sugar or make cookies soggy. When room temperature is achieved, re-zip bag.

If you like this, help spread the word and share with friends:
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit

{ 10 trackbacks }

Twisted Cookies with Rolled-In Sugar | *bespoke* zine
February 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Cinnamon Twist Rolled in Sugar « With love to Pep Pep
March 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm
Vanilla Sugar Twist Cookies | fidget smile wave
February 28, 2013 at 8:13 am
Twisted Cookies with Rolled-In Sugar | *bespoke* magazine ~ craft art design vintage handmade
May 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm
Alter Gusto | Twisted Cookies - Biscuits « twistés » à la vanille -
October 8, 2013 at 3:22 am
Twisted Cookies | Sweet Food
October 31, 2013 at 4:28 am
Sweet Food | Twisted Cookies
November 25, 2013 at 2:13 am
Cookies, Cookies, Cookies! & My Fave Gifts. |
December 16, 2013 at 7:29 am
Alter Gusto | Best of des recettes de 2013 & Très belle année 2014 -
January 5, 2014 at 11:17 pm
Swedish Sour Cream Twists (Layered Yeast Cookies) - The Food Charlatan
December 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy@She Paused 4 Thought February 26, 2012 at 11:30 am

Those cookies are nothing short of a masterpiece! I love your story that wraps around them. I know what it is like to lose a domain name for the same reason. But if it is any consolation… I love the name of your blog!

Sami February 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

Could you explain how the finished cookie is at least 8 layers but you only have about 23 layers when you put them on the tray. I really want to try these, they look scrumptious.

Angie@ Angie's Southern Kitchen February 26, 2012 at 11:41 am

These look amazing….I am going to try them. They look much different than any thing I have ever seen. I love working with yeast doughs. Thanks for sharing the recipe and showing how it is all done. Thanks!!

Lentil Breakdown February 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Wow! They’re so beautiful! If I were a man, I would wear one as a bow tie with my tux to a formal affair—one that would never allow a pedestrian-titled potato.

Renata February 26, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Your blog is beautiful! I’m so going to make these twisted cookies, just my kind of thing! Absolutely gorgeous, and so artistic looking. Hats off to you!

Billie February 26, 2012 at 8:44 pm

My grandma and mom have made these since i can remember, about 61 years ago. I have made them since i was 12~~~We called them sour cream twists. They are and have always been my favorite cookie. They aways looked so nice with the sparkling sugar showing throughout..

myfudo February 27, 2012 at 4:05 am

I love reading your blog and I enjoy looking at the pictures. Wonderful recipe. Have to try this sometime…my version of these twisted goodies!

Susanna February 27, 2012 at 6:09 am

I’m confused… How can you fold and roll them repeatedly and still have separate layers at the end? I know with croissants (which I have not made), you put butter between the layers so it keeps the layers from merging. Does the sugar form the same function here? I truly don’t get how the layers don’t merge, but give you that lovely fan effect. I want to make these. I’m just scared my layers will merge and I will be crushed! And please forgive my ignorance. :)

Jo February 27, 2012 at 8:01 am

These cookies look gorgeous. Would love for you to share this with us over at

kitchenriffs February 27, 2012 at 8:59 am

Great pictures! And such a great recipe. This is a new recipe to me – using yeast in cookies in unusual, at least in my experience. I’m not the big cookie baker in our family (my wife is), but these look really tempting – I’ll probably be giving these a try. Thanks so much.

sare February 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

Hi, I’m sare, from Türkiye.
I love them. I’ like to ask you only used the butter in the dough not for folding, tank you.
Your writing, photos and the recipe are very nice. I’like to follow your blog.
See you again.

shannon February 27, 2012 at 11:17 am

what do you mean by ‘double pan’? place one pan on top of another? i don’t have 2 the same size.

Magic of Spice February 27, 2012 at 12:32 pm

What a great post…and these cookies are nothing short of gorgeous!

Sarah February 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Yum! These look so beautiful – can’t wait to try them. Your story is so sweet too.

Lynne February 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Hi Shannon ~ Double pan does mean one pan on top of another. Usually two pans of the same size. Do you have a smaller pan that will fit inside a larger one? The purpose is to keep the bottom of the cookies from getting too brown before the top is done. The bottom pan insulates the top pan from the direct heat. I hope you find a way to make this work. Lynne xo

Lynne February 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Hi Sare ~ The butter is in the dough, and the sugar is in between the layers. Please let me know if you have any other questions about this recipe, I will be happy to explain it to you. Thank you so much for following my blog. Lynne xo

Lynne February 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Hi Susanna ~ Trust me, you will have layers just like my photos. What happens is the sugar partially liquifies, allowing the layers of thin dough to slide over each other. After you twist the dough and put it on the cookie sheet, you can even fan it out a little more to make it prettier. Just be sure you get a goodly amount of the sugar on top of the dough before you fold it the first time. You’ll be fine. The yeast in the dough forms gluten which holds the thin layers intact. It is a pastry dough, not a cookie dough. I’m so glad you asked this question, as others may have been wondering the same thing. If you make them, I hope you let me know how they turned out. Lynne xo

Lynne February 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Hi Sami ~ I also think this layer business is interesting. I think what happens is that because the layers are so very thin after the last rolling-out that some of them have adhered together. Also, I think when I have made them when it is colder in the kitchen, the sugar doesn’t liquify as much, so the layers stay separate better. And thus more layers are visible. I hope you will let me know how your cookies turn out. Lynne xo

Joan Hayes@chocolate and more February 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm

These are nothing short of amazing. I’ve made croissants (once) and while I won’t make them again, was an all day experience, I love that you can make this dough the day before then roll and bake the next day. Definitely added to my must make list! So glad I found these and you, on Pinterest!

Huylin February 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Hi Lynne,
Your twisted cookies look amazing, and so much fun to make too! I’m definitely bookmarking this to try on the weekend. I’ll let you know how they go. Thanks! :)

John February 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm is available for $9.99 from GoDaddy.

Betty February 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

These are magnificent! This is something I’d love to try. The layers are so pretty, and I can just imagine how good the vanilla sugar tastes! :)

Anna February 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Hey Mom! These are and will always be my favorite to make and eat! I’m glad you are sharing this with everyone! Love you!

Rachael February 27, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Bookmarked! Definitely going to try these during my upcoming vacation time :)

Love your blog – foodgawker frequently brings me here.

Wendy February 28, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hey! I made these today. While baking, the twisted cookies unfolded themselves. I have semi straight looking cookies. Delicious, but not as beautiful. Any recommendation to prevent them from unfolding? I did twist it twice.

Lynne February 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Hi Wendy ~ I am so sorry your cookies untwisted. I take full responsibility as I didn’t explain in enough detail how to twist them. I have amended the directions and hopefully this will ensure success. The dough strips have to be over-twisted to stretch the dough in the middle. They have to lie quite flat on the sheet and the ends may need to be fanned a little and pressed into the sheet to help adhere. Thank you so much for letting me know about this. I’m glad they tasted good! Lynne xo

Jenny February 28, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I found this post through Tastespotting and made the cookies today, and now I have to send a good portion to work with my boyfriend or else I’ll eat them all on my own! What a gem to be able to pass down through the generations.

Colleen @ The Taste Place February 28, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Those look gorgeous and delicious!

Ciaochowlinda February 29, 2012 at 12:18 pm

You’ve brought back a childhood memory. My aunt used to make these delicious cookies at holidays.

Sarah February 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Lynne! These cookies are so adorable I’m not sure I could bring myself to bite into one. But they do look delicious!! I hope they teach us how to make deserts as amazing as yours at my culinary school (Kendall College in Chicago). Happy baking!!

milk_chocolate84 March 1, 2012 at 4:48 am

I making these cookies today. My dough is in a refrigerator now, but i’m a little worry..
Should the dough rising?? It’s very soft and looks like…classic yeast dough. Should it be?
Thanks for help :)

Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) March 1, 2012 at 7:58 am

Aw, what a cute history with the cookies :) They do look delicious!

Rachael March 2, 2012 at 10:59 am

I am curious about the specific instructions regarding the yeast. The rapid rise should be interchangeable with the active dry yeast, minus the proofing step. Have you used the rapid rise and had it not work?

Just curious because I only buy the rapid rise and haven’t proofed yeast in 10 years or so!

cv March 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm

these look amazing. about to make these!

do I use an egg-wash before placing the cookies in the oven?

Lynne March 2, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Hi CV ~ There is no egg wash on these cookies. The tops are already coated with the vanilla sugar, which helps make a crystallized coating over all. I would love to know how your cookies turn out! Lynne xo

Lynne March 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Hi Rachael ~ The Rapid Rise is not interchangeable with the Active Dry Yeast in this recipe. The recipe is formulated to restrain the yeast, hence refrigeration, salted butter and the sugar being rolled in, not added to the dough. The goal is not big puffy cookies, but controlled layers, slightly risen. Active Dry Yeast is a different strain of yeast than Rapid Rise which also contains ascorbic acid, resulting in increased volume in rising. And again, larger volume is not what we’re after. Rapid Rise may be good for bread, but not for the optimal result of this recipe.

However, if you want to try the Rapid Rise, you need to add the 1/2 cup hot water to the egg/sour cream mixture and the yeast to the flour. This will keep the liquid/dry ingredients at the same ratio. If you try this method, I would really like to know how your cookies turn out. It will be a scientific experiment! Lynne xo

Cristina March 3, 2012 at 1:33 pm

You have some sweet memories around these cookies, Lynne, and how very sweet of you to share this treasured recipe for Twisted Cookies. Isn’t that ironic in timing that someone snagged the domain name? Makes you wonder that there wasn’t some type of monitor monitoring what domain names were being searched on.

Beautiful images of the finished cookie and the supporting images in prep. I will definitely be making these!

Nejla March 5, 2012 at 12:42 am

Hi I`m Nejla from Turkey,
You`re cookies are WOW!!! I soooo must make these.. Let you know of the end result..

Libby March 5, 2012 at 7:14 am

Thank you for this recipe. I tried it twice now. The twisting was not very successful on the first one but the second time I made it was better. For the taste it was very good both times. You’re instructions are perfect.


Jescel March 5, 2012 at 9:46 am

they’re beautiful. i will definitely try making these.. thank you for sharing! i’m crossing my fingers that mine will look as beautiful as yours.

Enny Lu March 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm

These tasted amazing, thank you so much for sharing! I found that overnight refrigeration of the dough instead of the minimum four hours helped me roll the dough out precisely as you specified. I do have a question however. My kitchen gets pretty warm as I bake the batches through and as the strips sit on my counter they get very warm and gooey. Would you suggest I place the cut strips into the fridge as I bake the batches so they “twist” better and hold their shape?

Lynne March 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm

milk_chocolate84 ~ Yes, the dough initially starts to rise and is soft like classic yeast dough when first placed in the fridge. Then as it gets cold, the yeast stops rising and the butter hardens, causing the dough ball to become firm. Thanks for trying my cookies! Lynne xo

Enny Lu ~ While you are baking the first 16 cookies, you could twist the second 16 and place them on aluminum foil the size of the cookie sheet. Put this on something flat, maybe another sheet, and place the whole thing in the fridge. When you bake the cold twisted strips, give them an additional 30 seconds of baking time. I wouldn’t place the untwisted strips in the fridge as they would be too firm to twist. I’m glad you enjoyed them! Lynne xo

susan March 10, 2012 at 10:33 pm

This is so my kind of cookie, Lynne! They are so pretty and they look so light. I am going to have to put these on the top of my “to-do” list.

Jen March 11, 2012 at 11:06 am

They look absolutely wonderful. Who would have thought to look at the inside of a wrapper for this dish :-)

SusyCS March 15, 2012 at 8:33 am

Love your story and the recipe! Have to make these cookies soon! :)

Margaret Barry March 17, 2012 at 8:33 am

These look wonderful, and I am going to try them for the first spring bbq tomorrow. My question was also about the double pan, but I see that it has already been explained. Thanks for sharing, and I will let you know how I do. Lovely blog…..I will definitely be following you.

Holiday Baker Man March 18, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Inspiring….gotta try these!

Adella March 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm

These look delicious! I am having some trouble understanding the recipe. Can you please do a youtube video on how to make them? Videos are really helpful and easier to understand.
Thank you

Geeta April 3, 2012 at 11:54 am

Wow! These sound spectacular! I absolutely want to give them a try. I do have one question, though. One of my boys is allergic to egg. Do you have any suggestions on making these without egg? Thanks!

Lynne April 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Hi Geeta! There are two well known egg replacement products made by EnerG and Bob’s Red Mill. Here is a link with more information:

I hope this helps you out. If you make Twisted Cookies, I would love to hear how they turned out. Lynne xo

Leave a Comment

Previous post: Cauliflower Steak with Mushrooms & Hee Hee

Next post: Lamb & Shrimp Kabobs with Red Harissa