When I was planning what cookies I was going to bake for this Christmas season, I perused through my cookbooks and surfed my Pinterest boards and found myself in absolute sensory overload. I couldn’t decide, so I asked Bert what his favorite Christmas cookies are and after brief deliberation, he decided on date nut pinwheels. I was kind of surprised to learn this little fact about the guy I have grown to know so well that I can (and, so annoyingly, do) finish his sentences. My husband, who has declared chocolate chip the supreme cookie of all time and holds a classic double chocolate cake as his most revered birthday treat, had revealed to me a side of him that I never knew. The lad loves the underrated and often overlooked date nut pinwheel. My heart swelled with pride and I marked my notebook in pen; date nut pinwheels were a must for this holiday season.
These cookies are a little more time-consuming in that you have to allow plenty of time to make and cool the filling, and chill the dough two separate times. The actual rolling up of the pinwheels can be a little intimidating, but the folks at America’s Test Kitchen included great instructions on how to do it simply with parchment paper. I was feeling a little sassy and festive on the day I was baking these and decided to have Bert and Smith record me rolling up one of the pinwheel logs . I always learn better by watching a video over a series of pictures, so I’ve included the video here. It’s very homemade, but I hope you find it helpful.
Have a wonderful week, everyone, I am going to be posting more holiday treats on the blog as Christmas nears. It’s going to be extra sweet around here, but I have some lighter recipes to share in a few weeks, as well.
Date Nut Pinwheels
Yield: America’s Test Kitchen says 40 but I got around 48
- 1 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
- 9 ounces pitted dates, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Bring the pecans, dates, 1/2 cup sugar, and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir frequently and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 hour.
2. Use the paddle attachment in a standing mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside. When your butter mixture is nice and fluffy, turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the eggs, one at at time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowls and mix again. Next, add in the vanilla and mix until well-combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture, in about 3 additions, until the dough is just sticking together. Turn off the mixer and divide the dough into two equal-sized hunks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
3. After the filling is cooled and the dough has chilled, place one of the hunks of dough on a lightly-floured piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 9×13 inch rectangle and spread half of the date filling on the dough using a rubber spatula. Pull up on the long side of the parchment paper that is facing you and slowly peel and roll the dough while pulling up on the parchment paper to form a log (see video above). Repeat with the other hunk of dough. Place the logs on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 1 day. You can also speed up this process by freezing the dough for about 1 hour.
4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with greased parchment paper or silicone mats. Carefully slice the logs using a sawing motion as to not flatten the pinwheels into rectangles. Gently adjust the sliced cookies with your fingers to make them rounder. Place on baking sheets, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-16 minutes**, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool completely.
**America’s Test Kitchen provides a baking time of 18-22 minutes, but I found that my cookies were a little overdone at this time. My advice would be to do a test cookie and see which duration works best for you.