Sunday, December 20, 2009

Recipe - Date Pinwheel Cookies

(Photo: Date Pinwheel Cookies - a long-time Grant-Dyer family holiday tradition!)

These date pinwheel cookies have been a special part of our family holiday traditions for as long as I can remember. My mother got the recipe from neighbors when they were living in a small Ohio town after first being married. They are "effort cookies" as I need 2 days to get them made. I have taken them to cookie exchanges, cookie sales, given them away to friends, and always save enough for Santa and us. Even in years when I was on chemotherapy or still recovering during the holidays, these cookies always got made somehow. :-)


1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup ground walnuts
1 package (7-1/2 ounce) pitted dates, cut small - Note: I no longer bother cutting up the dates but instead purchase date pieces

Boil all together until thick. Set aside and cool. I usually make the filling a day ahead of cookie rolling day, so it has plenty of time to cool.

Note: I have often added more walnuts or more dates to the filling recipe along with a smidge more water.

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
4 cups flour (I use 2 cups white all-purpose flour and 2 cups white whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt


Cream butter and sugar with a mixer in a large bowl, then add eggs one by one, beating until well mixed. In separate bowl, mix flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt. Whisk to mix well. Slowly add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, mixing well after each addition. I do cover and put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for at least a few hours, sometimes overnight. (Note: this is a very stiff dough - use your most powerful beater/mixer when mixing in the dry ingredients.)

Divide dough into four parts. Roll out each piece of dough using a rolling pin between two large pieces of wax paper. (NOTE: see photos below for how I do this) I roll out the dough to be just less than the length of a cookie sheet and maybe 7-8 inches wide. I would guess that the dough is about 1/8 inch in thickness. I do a lot of "cut and paste" to get the dough fairly even all around the edges. Take off top piece of wax paper, spread 1/4 of the date filling as evenly as possible on the dough. Then roll up the dough starting on the long side nearest to you, rolling away from you. Even out the ends of the dough with your hands then wrap the roll in wax paper and freeze overnight on a cookie sheet or anything flat to keep the dough from bending. This recipe makes 4 rolls of cookie dough.

When ready to bake, unroll the dough from the wax paper, cut into slices ~1/4 inch in width, then place on ungreased cookie sheets. I bake these on parchment paper at 375 for 10-12 minutes. I do shift the trays in the oven to keep the cookies from burning on the bottom. We do eat any "black-bottom" cookies but never give those away.

This recipe easily makes 80-100 cookies. Yum, yum, yum. Every one with a Christmas stocking at our house (except our dog) gets a small private stash in their stocking. It's almost impossible to just eat one!

(Photo: Step 1 - rolling the dough between 2 pieces of wax paper)

(Step 2 - dough ready for filling to be spread)

(Step 3 - filling spread on dough - rolling pin to give you size perspective of how I roll out the dough)

(Photo: rolling the dough over the filling - I use the wax paper to help me roll it without needing to get my hands sticky from touching the dough)

(Photo - dough all rolled up - pinch in the ends, then roll the wax paper over the dough before putting it in the freezer overnight)

(Photo: dough sliced and ready to bake - you can see that I bake them on parchment paper - be very careful not to burn the bottoms. I have done this and yes, we still eat them!)

(Photo - close up of dough ready to bake)

(Photo: cookies cooling - no snitching!!)

(Photo: Close-up of cookies all baked and ready to eat - Oh, they are so hard to resist, just ask my older son. I wonder if he remembers that at age 5, he got a tummy ache when he found them cooling "unguarded" and irresistible!)

Happy Holidays to all and best wishes for a healthy 2010!!

Diana Dyer, MS, RD


Cynthia said...

Indeed they are good! I can vouch for it, after having several on my tray from our exchange. Always so good to see you, my friend! Can't wait to be eating some of yoru garlic!

g-ma2isaac said...

First of all, God's blessings to you on your recovery and continued good health. I am a 17 year breast cancer survivor. Your story touched my heart and brought back many memories of my mother making this same cookie. Today I will use your recipe to make these cookies, not only for myself and husband, but more so for my Mother who is now 85 and no longer bakes. Thank you.

Diana Dyer said...

My 85 year old mother (who also no longer bakes) also gets her own "private supply" of these cookies in her Christmas stocking. :-) They have so many wonderful memories associated with them, and with the effort to make them. Thanks for visiting my blog. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

My daughter and I are making these for our Islamic Festival of EID as the month of Ramadaan and fasting comes to a close. I am fasting and can't taste as I go but ummmm so far they look fabulous. Each night we break our fast with dates and water so these cookies seemed fitting. I can't wait to share these with my family, neighbors, and friends.