Festive Cranberry Pinwheels, and how the dog ate my homework

December and baking go hand-in-hand in my kitchen. Speaking of hands, protect yours with my heavy-duty Helen Oven Mitt, available today on my secure Etsy site, CloverSueStore. This oven mitt is serious business, with gorgeous quilted detailing on front and back. Inside, reflective metalized polyester protects from burns, and cotton batting provides comfort. Just short of rocket science. How many times have you reached into the oven and burned your wrist? This oven mitt measures a generous 13-1/4 inches long, so it will defend against burns to your wrist and lower arms.

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Front and Back, regardless of  whether you are a Rightie or a Southpaw.

This year, I am crushing on cranberries, and if you love them as much as I do, Festive Cranberry Pinwheels delivers. This recipe is from my “baking bible,” also known as Better Homes and Gardens Old-Fashioned Home Baking cookbook, circa 1990. The pages of my baking bible, like most well-used cookbooks, became crusty with smatterings of pie fillings, batters and frostings over the years. The delectable tastes and aromas contained therein were too much for Clover Sue Dogg (yes, she has a first, middle and last name) to resist when she was a puppy; I came home one day to find my prized possession chewed into bits from the spine in. I was beside myself with grief. But wait — enter Dear Hubs to save the day! My Underdog. He located a  spanking-new replacement cookbook, which was delivered that very week. Lesson learned: baking bible and other taste-tempting edibles (and non-edibles) are to be stored higher than a puppy’s reach.

Fill-in the blank: It’s not Christmas until _____. For me, it’s not Christmas until I bake a batch of Festive Cranberry Pinwheels (among many other Christmas-time activities, recipes, decorating, etc.) That said, this recipe is as time-consuming as rolled and decorated sugar cookies, but with a more grown-up flavor profile. Delicate and delightful, these cookies are dripping with Christmas. I recommend toasting your walnuts before finely chopping them.

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Orange-y, cranberry, nutty good!

Ingredients

1 cup cranberries                                                       1 Tbs. milk

1/4 cup orange marmalade                                     1 tsp. baking powder

1 Tbs. honey                                                                1 tsp. vanilla

2/3 cup butter                                                             1/2 tsp. finely shredded orange zest

2 cups all-purpose flour                                         1 egg plus 1 tsp. water, beaten (for glue/wash)

1/2 cup sugar                                                              Powdered Sugar Icing (see recipe below)

1 egg                                                                             1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

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Stoneware Measuring Spoons from Magnolia Market with my thanks to sweet Sister in-law Lisa and Niece Paige

For filling, in a covered saucepan cook cranberries, marmalade and honey over low heat until mixture boils and berries pop. Uncover, then cook about 8 minutes more until mixture is the consistency of thick jam. Set filling aside to cool. (For the honey, try SimplyNature Wildflower Honey from Aldi US for an extra charming flavor.)

In a bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed about 30 seconds or until softened. Add about half of the flour. Add sugar, egg, milk, baking powder and vanilla. Beat until well combined. Stir in the remaining flour and orange zest. Divide in half. Wrap tightly and chill about 3 hours or until easy to handle.

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A fluted or straight edge pastry wheel can be used. I used straight edge to make the squares, and fluted to cut the points.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 10-inch square. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut each half into sixteen 2-1/2 inch squares. Place squares 2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Cut 1-inch slits from each corner to the center of each square (don’t go all the way through). Spoon 3/4 teaspoon of the filling on the center of each square. Fold every other point to the center to form a pinwheel, brushing each point with a little egg wash to glue the tips together. Pinch lightly to seal.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until tips are pale golden brown. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on wire racks. Drizzle with Powdered Sugar Icing. Sprinkle nuts in the center of cookies. Makes about 32 cookies.

Powdered Sugar Icing

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1/4 tsp. vanilla. Stir in 1 tablespoon orange juice. Stir in additional juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and of drizzling consistency.

Pinwheel cookies can be frozen, tightly covered, if you prefer to do some holiday baking in advance. I shall share more cranberry goodness, in the form of Christmas Sangria (which does not suck to quote Dear Hubs) in my next post. Until then, Happy Holidays and Happy Birthday, Paige!

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