Mai Tai Swirls

These pinwheel-style cookies are made with almond-scented dough spiraled around an orange marmalade and rum filling.

Mai Tai Swirls

Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
7 hrs 30 mins
About 5 dozen cookies

Kristina Cho has spent most of her life surrounded by the fruity, rum-heavy mai tai cocktail. Her mom moonlighted as a bartender at her grandparents’ Chinese restaurant when she was growing up. Not old enough to partake, Cho grew to love the iconic glassware and colorful garnishes. These days, she lives near the birthplace of the mai tai—Trader Vic’s in Oakland, California. Her cookie tribute to the cocktail expresses the playful nature of the tiki-style drink with a swirled almond-scented cookie filled with orange marmalade, lime zest, and gold rum. These are perfect cookies to prepare ahead of time: the spiraled dough logs can be frozen for up to 2 months and then sliced and baked straight from frozen.


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 11 3/4 ounces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (8 ounces), softened

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (from 1 small orange)

  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade

  • 1/4 cup cherry preserves or jam

  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) gold rum (such as Santa Teresa 1796)

  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest (from 1 lime)

  • 1 cup white sparkling sugar


  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Beat butter and granulated sugar with a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add orange zest and almond extract; beat until combined, about 15 seconds. Add egg; beat until well combined, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed until dry ingredients are incorporated and a soft dough forms, about 45 seconds.

  2. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap, and shape into a 5-inch square. Chill until dough is cold, at least 1 hour or up to overnight (12 hours).

  3. Whisk together orange marmalade, cherry preserves, rum, and lime zest in a small bowl. Chill until ready to use.

  4. Unwrap each chilled dough square. Roll each dough square between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a 10-inch square. Transfer rolled dough (still between parchment sheets) to refrigerator, and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

  5. Working with 1 dough square at a time, peel off top parchment layer, and invert dough onto a clean sheet of parchment; peel off top layer of parchment. Spread square with half of the marmalade mixture, leaving a 1-inch border along top edge and a 1/2-inch border along remaining 3 edges. Using parchment paper on bottom of dough as a guide, roll up the dough, cinnamon roll–style, away from you, toward the top edge. Pinch outer ends to seal, wiping off any excess filling that may squeeze out. Wrap roll tightly in plastic wrap. Repeat process with remaining dough square and filling. Chill wrapped logs until dough is chilled and firm, at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.

  6. Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper third and lower third positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Place sparkling sugar on a quarter baking sheet or large platter.

  7. Unwrap 1 dough log, and roll in sparkling sugar until completely coated. Cut sugar-coated log evenly into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Arrange cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until edges are firm and bottoms are lightly browned, about 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets between top and bottom racks after 6 minutes of baking time. Remove from oven. Let cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Repeat cutting and baking process with remaining dough log.


Chilling the orange marmalade mixture before rolling it in the dough allows it to thicken slightly and prevents it from squishing out the sides of the rolled dough log.

To Make Ahead

Cookies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. Tightly wrapped dough logs can be frozen up to 2 months. Remove from freezer, and let thaw at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Proceed with steps 6 and 7, using a serrated knife to cut the frozen dough log and baking an additional 2 minutes.

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