Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cranberry-Honey Spice Pinwheel Cookies

I found this recipe in an issue of Eating Well Magazine (November/December 2005).  These are great because they make a large batch ( about 90 cookies), and you can make them ahead of time, freeze the logs, and then only slice and bake as many as you want at a time.  You can also do the dough and the filling at different times (make the filling up to 2 days before you want to make the dough and assemble the logs).  They take about 1 1/2 hours of hands on time to make, and a total of 6 hours from start to finish, including freezing and cooling times.  They have a wonderfully spicy aroma and smell just like Thanksgiving and Christmas to me!  I am enjoying the smell of the first batch baking as I write this....mmmmmm.

1 1/2 cups sweetened dried cranberries
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or allspice

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom or allspice
1/3 cup canola oil
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons lowfat milk, plus more as needed
2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • For the filling:  Combine all filling ingredients in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.  Bring mixture to a gentle boil and cook, stirring, until the fresh cranberries burst and soften, about 4-5 minutes.  Let cool slightly, then transfer to a food processor and puree.  If the mixture seems dry, stir in up to 2 teaspoons of water.  Transfer mixture to a nonreactive container and refrigerate while preparing the dough.  Personal note:  When I first combined all these ingredients in the saucepan, I thought the mixture seemed very dry and I wondered how it would come to a boil, but have faith, as the honey warms and the fresh cranberries start to burst, the mixture will become very moist.  I did not have to add any water when I pureed it.
  • For the dough:  Whisk all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cardamom (or allspice) in a large bowl.  In another large bowl, combine oil, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, milk, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat wet ingredients with an electric mixer on low speed, then on medium speed until well combined.  Add half the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Stir in the remaining dry ingredients until evenly incorporated, adding up to 1 tablespoon more milk if the dough is too dry to hold together  (I did not have this problem, my dough was just right without the extra milk).  Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30-45 minutes to reduce its stickiness.  I would recommend even refrigerating it for an 1-1 1/2 hours.  It was not overly sticky after 30 minutes, but I think it would be easier to handle and roll out if chilled well.
  • Turn dough out into a work surface and divide in half.  Shape each half into a 6-inch long log.  Working with one log at a time, center it on a 16-inch-long sheet of baking parchment or wax paper.  Cover with a second sheet and roll into a 12x15-inch rectangle of even thickness, inverting the dough to roll out any wrinkles and patching it if necessary to make the sides as even as possible.  Transfer the dough, in the paper, to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining log.  Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the dough is slightly firm, about 15 minutes.  Personal note:  I would freeze the sheets of dough for 20 to 30 minutes.  Take only one at a time out of the freezer, and work quickly.  As the dough warmed, I had problems with it coming apart a little when spreading the cranberry mixture and sticking to the wax paper when I tried to roll it up.  I also recommend oiling your hands a little bit and using the side of an oiled spatula to loosen the dough from the paper as you roll it, if sticking is a problem.
  • To prepare pinwheel rolls:  Place one sheet of dough on the work surface.  Peel off the top sheet of paper.  Spread half the reserved filling evenly over the dough (it will be a very thin layer).  Working from a 15-inch long side, tightly roll up the dough jelly-roll style, leaving the bottom sheet of paper behind.  Wrap the roll in a clean sheet of wax paper, twisting the ends to prevent unrolling.  Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the second piece of dough.  Put both rolls into the freezer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, at least 3-4 hours.  Note: to get a uniformly round cookie, enclose the rolls in the cardboard tubes from paper towels or foil before freezing.  Slit each tube lengthwise and insert the wrapped pinwheel log.  Secure the tube around the log using rubber bands or tape.
  • To bake the cookies:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Working with one pinwheel roll at a time, trim the uneven ends.  Cut the roll crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices using a serrated knife.  Periodically turn the roll to maintain a relatively round cookie shape.  Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1/2-inch apart.  Bake until puffed and barely golden brown, 12-16 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Immediately transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.  Personal note:  I recommend putting the roll you are slicing back into the freezer while waiting for cookies to bake.  Even though I did that, it started to get a little soft towards the end, making it more difficult to slice.  Don't worry if the cookies aren't perfectly round, they will look better after baking.  They were done after 14 minutes in my oven.
These little cookies are delicious, and so pretty!  They smell wonderful and I think they will be a great addition to my Thanksgiving dinner.  I sliced and baked only one of the rolls for now and I'm saving the other one for next week.  These cookies will be good stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or you can freeze them after baking for up to one month.  The tightly wrapped dough rolls can be frozen for up to 2 months (do not defrost before slicing and baking).  They are 54 calories and 1g fat per cookie.


Maria said...

Super cute cookies and perfect for the holidays too!

Jessica said...

Thanks Maria! They were fun to make too.