Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Cookie #3: Grandma Gladys' Date Pinwheels

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Grandma Gladys with me (1981)

I mentioned my Great-Grandma Gladys in a previous postShe died at age 107, ten years ago.

She met my great-grandfather while she cooked for ranch-hands as a young woman.  After she and my great-grandfather married, she learned she could not get pregnant.  This led them to adopt my grandfather from the children's hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.  They renamed him "Eldon Lloyd Martindale."

Eldon became stricken with polio as a child.  Refusing the diagnosis that he would never walk again, Grandma Gladys worked and worked with him.  She exercised Eldon's legs daily until he was able to walk on his own again.  Although one leg remained one inch shorter than the other, my grandfather led an active life as a rancher and a mechanic, eventually having five children of his own.

I didn't know these details about my Grandma Gladys until I was older.  When I was a child, all I knew is that she was my best friend, and she made great cookies.

Every Christmas, I make Grandma Gladys' Date Pinwheels.  The brown sugar and shortening give the cookies a rich, chewy texture, typically found in the dough of chocolate chip cookies.  The dates give the pinwheels a thread of gooey consistency and a caramel or honey-like taste.

First, I brought the dates, sugar, and water to boil.

I removed it from the heat when the date mixture began to thicken.

You can see how the mixture is thick enough
after it cooled that it doesn't fall off the spoon.
Then, I creamed the sugars and shortening together
in my Kitchen Aid before adding the eggs and vanilla.
I added the eggs and vanilla until they were incorporated.
Next, I added 4 c. flour, soda, and salt.

And I mixed it together to create a dough.

I put down wax paper, then floured it before putting the dough on top.

I rolled the dough out flat in a rectangle

Next, I spread the date mixture over the dough,
all of the way to the edges.

 Then, I began to roll it up,
pulling the wax paper as I went.
Do you notice something wrong here?

I was rolling it up THE WRONG WAY!
I ended up with this really thick roll of dough.
Oh well, I wrapped it with cling wrap and refrigerated it overnight. 
These cookies would have turned out 4-5" across!
The next day, I improvised and cut the dough in half.

 So instead of having pinwheels, they were like crescents.
I used parchment paper to keep them from sticking to the cookie sheet.

They tasted amazing!



*1 lb. chopped dates
*1 c. and 1 c. sugar, divided
*1/2 c. water
*1 c. brown sugar
*1 c. butter flavored shortening
*4 eggs
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*4 c. and 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, divided
*1 tsp. baking soda
*1/2 tsp. salt


1.  Combine dates, 1 c. sugar, and water in medium saucepan.  Bring to boil, stirring often, until mixture begins to thicken.  Allow to cool completely.
2.  In large mixing bowl, cream 1 c. sugar, brown sugar, and shortening.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated.  Add 4 c. flour, soda, and salt.  Mix thoroughly until soft dough forms.
3.  Spread wax paper on counter and cover lightly with flour.  Roll dough out into large rectangle.  Spread date mixture evenly on dough.
4.  Very carefully, roll dough up and peel wax paper back, creating a long roll of dough.  Wrap dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
5.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Unwrap dough and slice into 1/2" cookies.  Place on cookie sheets 2" apart and bake for 12 min.

Yields 4 dozen cookies.

Did you have a grandparent who you played with as a child?
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