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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pinwheel Cookies

I wonder if it's the spiral pattern in these cookies that made them such a favourite with my kids while growing up. It might just be the chocolate vanilla combination along with their crisp texture.

Whatever the reason, many years later, everyone's face still lights up when they discover a batch cooling on the counter. One family member still opts for a cookie jar full of pinwheel cookies in lieu of a birthday cake.

This cookie dough is tasty and inexpensive to make but yields great results.

It's the perfect dough for any cut out cookie because it retains its shape very well. In other words, you don't cut out a gingerbread man shape and end up with a grizzly bear after baking.

This dough works so well in this respect that I've expirimented beyond the familiar pinwheel shape.

Let this simple dough and an assortment of interesting cookie cutters spark your immagination. See some of my ideas below.

(Click on the photos for a larger view)

But I think the original pinwheel cookie will always have a special place in the memories of those who have enjoyed them.

Pinwheel Cookies

1/2 cup margarine softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 extra large egg
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 (one ounce square) unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
Milk to brush between layers of dough
  1. In a medium bowl cream margarine, sugar and vanilla until fluffy, beat in egg.
  2. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Blend dry ingredients into creamed mixture with wooden spoon or spatula.
  3. Divide dough in half. Blend melted chocolate into one half of the dough.
  4. Between two sheets of wax paper, roll each half into a 12x 10 inch rectangle. (approximate size)
  5. Brush chocolate layer with some milk then place white layer on top of the chocolate one.
  6. Brush white layer with milk then starting at the widest end roll tightly like a jelly roll.
  7. Wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  8. Cut into 1/4 inch slices and bake on ungreased cookie sheets in a preheated 375 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on rack. Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies.
Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • If you don't have any chocolate baking squares on hand, substitute 3 heaping full tablespoons of semisweet chocolate chips melted.
  • Once you have formed the roll, you can freeze it for later baking. When ready to bake, remove.
  • from freezer and let defrost about 10 minutes, slice and bake as directed in recipe.
  • To retain round shape of cookie dough use the cardboard cente of a paper towel roll. Cut it open along it's length and place prepared dough inside. Then chill or freeze.
  • To maintain uniform thickness of dough while rolling out, use large size clean plastic food bags like Glad bags (not ziplock). Place dough inside and roll with rolling pin right to the edges of bag. Fold over open end of bag and roll dough right to the fold. Then cut open bag along the edges and peel off. This works well for any cut out cookie recipie as well as the pinwheel dough layers.
  • You can add a few drops of food colour to the white dough and replace the vanilla extract with any extract of your choice for a different flavour. For the red hearts, I mixed some cinnamon and red food colouring and added it to the white dough. Worked well for Valentine's Day cookies.
(Click on the photos for a larger view)


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