Holiday Recipe: Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

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This December I will be celebrating my thirtieth Christmas, along with my love affair with pinwheel cookies.  It was twenty two Decembers ago when I first tasted a pinwheel cookie (then two, then three), and I remember the cheer-less look on my mom’s face when she walked into the kitchen as I was finishing off the last of a tray of pinwheel cookies that she had pulled from the oven less than an hour before.*

Needless to say my favorite holiday treats have forever after been strictly rationed.  The recipe–a photocopy of a Woman’s Day Kitchen cutout from the 50s, passed along from a friend of my mom’s now living in Texas–is a good one, with one shortfall: it invariably produces far too few cookies.  On rare occasion, I was able to convince the boss of the pinwheel (my mom) to double the recipe.  But with increased supply came increased demand, and increased rationing.  Thus became the pinwheel paradox: does scarcity cultivate desire–can surplus satisfy?, or are pinwheel cookies so innately delicious that there can never be enough?

On December 16, 2012, I decided put the pinwheel paradox to the test and did something my mother would never let me do: I tripled the recipe.  I invite you to join me in attempting to answer the pinwheel paradox.  The following is the (pre-tripled) pinwheel cookie recipe:

Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

3 sticks butter (1 ½ cups)

2 cups granulated sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

3 ¾ cups sifted flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (3oz)

Cream butter; add sugar, vanilla, and egg; beat until light.  Add sifted dry ingredients.  Halve dough, and add chocolate to one half.  Chill for several hours, or until firm enough to roll.  Roll white dough on floured wax paper to form a 9×24-inch rectangle.  Roll chocolate dough to same size on separate waxed paper.  Invert on top of white dough, and pull off paper.  Press gently with rolling pin.  Cut into two 9×12-inch rectangles.  Roll each rectangle up tightly from short edge; wrap in paper.  Chill overnight.  Slice 1/8 inch thick.  Bake on cookie sheets at 350 F for 8-10 minutes.

These are the results as of Dec 18:

  • First off, my first solo attempt at pinwheel cookies was successful (great dough, perfect spirals, only slight burning of one tray)
  • Right out of the gate I ate 6 cookies (they were the misshapen ends of the rolls, plus two others that needed to be eaten)
  • After initial celebration (with friends, who ate another 6? cookies), I counted 42 cookies from the batch
  • 20 cookies went on an ‘eat me’ plate on the counter; all eaten at about 6am on Dec 18, 34 hours after baking
  • I put 22 cookies in a container in the freezer for a holiday party (last I checked the container had been pilfered, likely by a well-intended housemate; unsure whether this occurred after the ‘eat me’ plate had been finished off, or whether it was the result of curiosity)
  • Conclusion: social scientific analysis of the pinwheel cookie is made difficult by my extreme bias; the effect of tripling the recipe on both cookie yield and the pinwheel paradox cannot be accurately determined as I ate a significant but unmeasured amount of dough; more research is needed.

*Admittedly, I did have vague knowledge that the cookies were destined for church…

Chris HowellComment