Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Chocolate-vanilla pinwheels with crushed honey-roasted hazelnuts

This was my first time making pinwheel cookies. I started with a base recipe from the Joy of Cooking then added my own twists. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, there is a learning curve with this type of cookie. Patience is a must. Also, reading instructions carefully? Important. Cooking is an art, but baking is a science. After a few missteps along the way, I'm very happy with how these turned out. I picked the prettier ones for the photos, but they all taste great! (I've sampled plenty). This recipe makes a ton of cookies, about 5 dozen.


To prepare hazelnuts:
Start with 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts and a bowl of ice water. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons of baking soda (the water will foam up). Add the hazelnuts and boil for about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to the ice water. Use your fingers to rub off the skin. You can also roll the nuts between two dishcloths to help remove it. Toss the nuts with 2T honey, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 350F for 15 minutes. I did a taste test before and after roasting. The difference is unbelievable! Pulse the nuts into a crumb-like texture using a blender or food processor. 

Tip: If you're going to all the trouble, you may want to prepare a larger quantity and save the extra for other uses (e.g. appetizers, salads). 

To prepare dough:
In a stand mixer, beat 1 cup of softened, unsalted butter until soft and creamy. Gradually add 2 cups of white sugar and beat hard for several minutes. In a small mixing bowl, whisk 2 eggs and 2 tsp vanilla. Add this to the butter and sugar. In a large mixing bowl, sift together 2-1/4 cups of all-purpose flour and 2-1/2 tsp baking powder. Working in batches, add the flour. Ensure each addition is well-mixed, but avoid overbeating. Remove half of the dough from the stand mixer. Add 1/4 cup Ovaltine - or other powdered malt flavouring - to the remaining dough. Add additional flour as needed. Then, switch out the dough and add 1/4 cup cocoa powder to the second batch. Add additional flour as needed. 

To prepare the dough rolls:
Chill the dough slightly in the refrigerator. On a floured surface, separately roll out the vanilla and chocolate dough until each is about 1/4" thick and roughly rectangular in shape. Trim the edges so you have perfect rectangles (I made a couple of rectangles in each set for easier handling). Layer one chocolate rectangle over a vanilla one and roll until about 2" thick in diameter. Repeat.

Prepare an egg wash by beating 2 eggs and 2T milk in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, coat each dough roll with the egg wash, then gently roll it in the toasted hazelnut crumbs. Tightly wrap the roll in foil and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. 

To prepare the cookies:
Unwrap the dough rolls, which should be firm. Using a sharp knife, slice them crosswise into cookies about 1/2" thick. Bake on a cool, greased pan at 400F for 8-10 minutes. Once done cooking, gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack for cooling. 

Cookies can be kept in a airtight container for up to two weeks or frozen for up to two months.

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