Saturday, August 6, 2011

Spinning Spinning 'Round and Round

I find a great deal of my inspiration on other blogs.  I started out by reading Kirbie's Cravings, which a friend of mine in college showed me, and was very soon hooked.  Each blogger's personality stands out to me in their writing.  The design of the blog, the recipes they choose and how they present each recipe is like a slice of the person behind the computer.  It's inspiring to see bloggers who are students, who have day jobs, and those who attended pastry school, all gathered on the Internet to share a passion.  While my blog has just begun, it is my hope that I may also contribute an interesting voice, and a few good recipes to boot.  But sometimes, I find a recipe that is too cute or awesome or intriguing to resist.

This recipe came from a Hong Kong blogger's post from a couple of years ago, My Buttery Fingers.  It's been a while since I made cookies, and these looked so adorable.  The first recipe from her post is Banana Coffee Muffins and the second is Pinwheel Shortbread cookies.  The Pinwheels remind me of millefiori, which reminds me of my longtime obsession with clay and miniature food items and a certain interesting class in 7th grade Latin.  That day, our teacher brought in a few packages of clay and declared that we would make millefiori.  Millefiori means "a thousand flowers" in Italian and is a pattern in glass, which can be made in clay or other media (including cookies, but that is an ambitious project which will have to wait).  A quick search led me to Wikipedia

This recipe took a while because I had to wait for my lovely frozen egg yolks to defrost.  The whites were used for the angel food cake all the way back in this post, and going on vacation for a week meant the yolks had to be frozen so they didn't go bad.  I hate wasting food...  So I guess the yolks might go into ice cream, or something.  But 2 of the 6 went into these cute little cookies.  

Then I made the dough, and misread the directions.  Instead of refrigerating the dough after it was shaped, I plopped both blobs into the fridge overnight.  Despite this, the dough seemed to have fared no ill effects from its overnight stay, other than being a little stiff, and it is an idea that this dough could be kept in the fridge or freezer to make cookies later.  The refrigerated roll slices beautifully, and you can see where I added a snake of vanilla dough in the center.  The dough cracks somewhat when it is first rolled up, but it smooths out later. 

Pinwheel Cookies: Recipe from My Buttery Fingers
Makes about 28 cookies (+ scraps)

Ingredients (for both batches of dough)
300g (about 3 cups minus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
20g (about 2 tablespoons) cocoa powder
100g (½ cup) sugar
100g (about 2 sticks, or 1 cup) cold salted butter (I used unsalted)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks (had a touch of salt in them because they were frozen)

1 large mixing bowl
1 scale with gram increments OR 
     1 cup dry measure 
     ¼ cup dry measure
     1 tablespoon measure
1 sturdy butter knife
1 large, clean flat surface
1 rolling pin
Plastic wrap
1 sharp knife
1 cookie sheet
Parchment paper for lining cookie sheet


1. Mix together 160g (about 1½ cup) flour and 50g (about ¼ cup) sugar in the large bowl.  Cut 50g (about 1 stick), of the cold butter into cubes, approximately 1 cm or ½ inch a side, and toss into the bowl.  With your hands, quickly rub the butter and flour mixture together until it vaguely resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  

2. Mix in the vanilla and egg yolk and shape the dough into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge while you make the chocolate dough.

3. In the same (now relatively clean) bowl, mix together the rest of the flour (140g or about 1½ cup minus 2 tablespoons), the 20g (about 2 tablespoons) cocoa powder and the rest of the sugar (50g or ¼ cup).  Once again, cut the 50g (about 1 stick) cold butter into cubes and toss into the flour mixture.  Rub until it vaguely resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then mix in the egg yolk.  Gather into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge. 

4. Unwrap the vanilla dough.  Using that sheet of plastic wrap as the bottom sheet and one more sheet as the top, roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thick.  Set the dough aside on top of one sheet of plastic wrap.  Using the other sheet of plastic wrap as the bottom, unwrap and roll out the chocolate dough to the same thickness. 

5. Layer one dough on top of the other and cut to a rectangle.  Remove the scraps and set aside.  Starting with the long end, roll it up, trying not to deform it too much.  I used my hands to roll a snake of vanilla dough to ease the start of the rolling process, but it is completely optional.  The original recipe didn't call for this, but I found it kind of cool.  It shows up as a little vanilla dot in the middle of the cookie.  Wrap up the log and refrigerate for at least an hour, until firm enough to slice through.  Wrap up the scraps and save them, too.  I have a bit of an idea regarding a pie with a bicolor crust... Or you could just make extra cookies.

They're so lovely and sharp before they're baked.

6. Preheat the oven to 180°C (about 350°F).  Meanwhile, unwrap the log and slice it (sharp knife helps prevent swishing) into cookies about 5mm (about ¼ inch) thick and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cookies firm up and the vanilla cookie turns a light golden brown.  Cool on wire racks or on the parchment.  Wire racks result in slightly crunchier cookies, and parchment results in slightly softer, chewier cookies.

Now they're lovely, sharp, and delicious!
Enjoy!  If you stare at them long enough.... They spin....

Even more mesmerizing in real life...

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