This is one of my favorite posts of the year. It’s time for the 4th Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. One post has so many benefits. I have an excuse to develop and test a cookie recipe (which takes several attempts to get right and has the side effect of many dozen cookies appearing in my kitchen). People send me cookies – in the mail. I like getting cookies in the mail. AND, I get to meet new bloggers and see new blogs.
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is a one-of-a-kind event each year where hundreds of bloggers come together to share cookies and raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a national non-profit committed to raising money to help fight pediatric cancer. The event is organized and run by two amazing bloggers: Lindsey of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. They deserve a huge amount of credit for running such a fantastic event.
This year I sent cookies to three people: Karen of The Tasty Bite, Jennifer of Peanut Butter and Peppers and Lynn of Turnips to Tangerines. In return three other bloggers sent me a dozen cookies each. I got a dozen Tropical Dream Bars from Jenn at My Kitchen Kreations, Peanut Butter cookies from Erica at Everyday Erica, and Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Cranberries from Kristen from Ink Foods: In Nanny’s Kitchen. All of the cookies were delicious and quickly vanished. Now I have six new blogging friends too!
My cookies were the result of months of planning and development. The date pinwheel cookie is a Southern classic. I remembered a recipe I loved when I was working America’s Test Kitchen from the America’s Best Lost Recipes, and I made that to see if that would work for my cookie this year. The cookies were delicious, but too sweet and they were huge! One cookie was far more than I could eat at one time, and a dozen of them might need freight mail instead of priority mail to ship. Next I tried a King Arthur Flour recipe and that was also close, but not quite what I wanted. In the end I use a little of both recipes and threw in a bunch of my own flavors and twists to develop my very own cookie that is not even close to either recipe.
The cookie dough is heavily scented with cardamom and orange peel and filled with an date-orange mixture that is just sweet enough without being too sweet. Instead of putting the nuts inside the cookie where they soften, I roll them around the outside so they get toasted and stay crunchy. This also makes this sticky dough a little easier to work with. To cut down on the size of the cookie, I slice the cookies very thin, which requires freezing the dough. The thinly sliced cookies come out of the oven irresistibly crunchy, then soften after a few days. While I strongly preferred the crunchy fresh from the oven version, the softer version was also delicious.
There are several steps to making and rolling these cookies out. Keeping the dough very cold while working with it the key to success with the cookie. Before rolling out the dough make sure it is very cold, and then keep in the freezer after you’ve rolled out the first batch and are working on the second. Then refreeze the rolled dough before slicing to help keep the pinwheels in a nice round shape.
All these steps will probably keep these as special occasion cookies – at least around here. They are worth the effort though, and the finished cookies seem to be a reward for the hard work put into making them. A batch will turn an event into a special occasion as their flavor is unique and delectable. Enjoy!
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup dates, chopped fine (6 ounces)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/2 cup finely chopped unsalted pistachios
- Combine flour, cardamom, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. Add butter and brown sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Add the zest and eggs, one at a time and mix well. Scraping down the sides and add the flour mixture. Beat until just combined. Divide the dough into two discs, wrap tightly and refrigerate for several (4+) hours.
- Before rolling out the dough, make the filling. Add chopped dates, sugar and orange juice to a medium heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently until the dates have fallen apart and the sauce has thickened into a paste, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
- To roll out the dough start with a piece of parchment paper. Place one disc of dough on the parchment and place a second sheet over the dough. Roll until it is very thin and forms a long rectangle, about the size of a standard piece of paper (8 1/2”x11”). Carefully remove the top layer of parchment to loosen it and then replace the parchment. Flip the dough over onto a baking sheet so that the loosened piece of parchment is under the dough. Carefully remove the piece of parchment that is now on top of the dough and discard. Place the rolled out dough in the freezer and repeat the process with the second disc of dough.
- When both discs of dough are rolled out, remove the first and spread 1/2 the date filling evenly over the entire sheet of dough. To roll the dough loosen the bottom edge with a bench scraper or sharp chef knife. Use the parchment to roll the dough over itself forming the pinwheel. Work quickly to prevent the dough from warming up and getting too sticky. If the dough does start to get too difficult to work with, return it to the freezer for a few minutes. Once the roll is complete, spread the parchment back flat with the dough roll at the top of the parchment. Spread half the chopped pistachios below the roll and roll the dough back over the pistachios, pressing the nuts into the dough. This will coat the roll, making it easier to handle and firmer. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for several hours. Repeat with the second dough sheet.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a baking liner (or lightly grease). Remove one log from the freezer and slice thin 1/4” slices of dough. Rotate the dough by 1/4 after each slice to keep the slices round. If the slices flatten at all, cup the slice between your thumb and forefinger to return it to a round shape. Place on a cookie sheet with at least 1 inch between cookies. Bake one pan at a time for 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden at the edges and no longer wet looking in the middle. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack and cool completely. Stores in an airtight container for several days.