Icebox……wow! Can you imagine fitting your refrigerated items into the icebox? Especially this time of year?? However, these precious cooks of old adorned their tables with a multitude of candies, cookies and fruitcakes (not so much!!!) I do have to wonder how long the chunk of ice lasted.
Oh how times have changed! Some things never change, though. Loving hands made this recipe years and years ago when I was a but little girl. Great-Grandma Hiscocks’ last home was tiny. Her box of toys was a bit larger than a shoe box, and yet I loved visiting her. She always had a cookie for me! (Timer just went off. Gotta check the 1st batch of these unusual sliced cookies filled with dates and black walnuts.) A few years later my Grandma Ruby, her daughter, trimmed her Christmas table with these little treasures with her loving hands. Then, you know it….my mom never missed a Christmas without making this heirloom favorite, with her loving hands. How I wish I could sit with her and talk about her memories of her mom’s and Grandma’s baking and how it was so different than today, while munching on a pinwheel and washing it down with a cup of hot coffee. (My mom would have tea….as always. She was part English, you know).
Went to a Christmas cookie exchange awhile back and a friend of mine brought pinwheel cookies, too, with of course the same heritage story as mine. I do have to wonder just how far back this recipe goes and how many countries have used it for a favorite staple this time of year. My Grandma Hiscocks’ folks were from Wales. Her husband was from England. You know how those ladies and gentlemen sing about “figgy pudding?” They love their dates and figs in the “old country.” Our trick-or-treating is, in a way, like their Christmas caroling, in that they would carol about the New Born King and expect a piece of fruit or “figgy pudding” for their efforts in the chilling air. (I like their custom much better than ours.)
This recipe…finicky…I might add….has a few steps. (It’s well worth enduring the finickiness (new word). And I hope, with a few tips, you’ll be able to sit down with a loved one and enjoy a cookie or two with your favorite hot beverage. Here we go:
- For Dough:
- 1 C butter
- 1 C sugar
- 1 C brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 t. salt
- 1 t vanilla
- 4 C flour
- 1 t. soda
- 1 C dates, chopped
- 1 C black walnuts, chopped
- ½ C sugar
- ½ C water
- 1 t vanilla
- For Filling:
- In saucepan on medium, cook dates, nuts,sugar and water until thick. Add vanilla. Cool. You may need to stir in 2-3 T of water for spreading unto dough.
- For Dough:
- Cream sugar,salt and butter, add eggs and mix together. Mix in dry ingredients and refrigerate for at least an 1 hour. Divide dough in half and a well-floured board and roll into 2 rectangles (I used a large knife to mold into rectangles.) Roll out to ⅝" 3/4", so the dough will not tear when rolling.
- Spread ½ the filling onto each rectangle. (It works best for me to spoon on the filling, making 10-12 spoonfuls onto each rectangle as the filling is difficult to spread. Go slow so that the dough doesn't tear.
- From the wide side of the rectangle, roll up the dough. Pinch the edge so that the pinwheel will stay in place during baking. Roll up each roll in waxed paper, place on a cookie sheet and stick into refrigerator for at least an hour. At this time they are ready to slice and bake. Can be left in refrigerator up to 2 weeks, or can be frozen. (Never happens here.)
- Slicing dough:
- Slice at least ⅝' thick. If they are more than this, the cookies get very large.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes...very little browning.
- Take out of oven and let stand for 3-5 minutes before transferring to waxed paper. Cool and store in air-tight container.