It’s becoming sort of a tradition for me.
Every Christmas for the past three years, I’ve participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by bloggers (and my Instagram and Twitter pals) Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. More than 22,000 cookies were delivered to hungry stomachs all over the country.
The first year I made and mailed kakimochi chocolate chip sweetheart cookies, using a very familiar ingredient — kakimochi, or rice crackers — to folks in Hawaii and Japan. The next year I made local-style thumbprint cookies.
This year, though, I went in a different direction.
These recipes should have a story attached to them. Maybe it’s a family recipe or a memory from childhood. Or maybe they incorporate a local ingredient or hail from your ethnic background.
This recipe — pinwheel ice box cookies — had two stories.
First off, these are cookies associated with my early years browsing bakeries in Hawaii. Just about every one — particularly King’s Bakery in Honolulu — had a version of these cookies. Though King’s Bakery closed up shop on King Street in 1992 and is now based in Torrance, Calif., I still think about its checkerboard chocolate-and-vanilla shortbread bites.
But the real story is this: my grandmother, who was a phenomenal baker from what I hear, had made these cookies once. And they were so good, my dad still talks about them.
Except she only made them once.
I wondered why — until I made them myself.
They’re, well, a bitch to make. (You’ll see in the photo gallery below.) Let’s just say I won’t be making these again anytime soon.
But I did get batches out to my assigned food bloggers: Alison Dulaney, Heart of Gold; Jen Foley (@foleyjennifer), What Jen Does; and Kelly Bonatsakis (@cupcakekellys), Cupcake Kelly’s. Hopefully they liked them as much as I did.
They’re not the prettiest cookies, but they’re adequately tasty. If they weren’t so difficult to make, I’d be baking them every weekend.
The difference this year, though, was that, as part of our participation in the virtual cookie swap, we each donated $4 to Cookies For Kids’ Cancer, a kick-ass charity that raises money for cancer research through cookie sales. OXO, Dixie Crystals, Gold Medal Flour and Grandma Molasses matched the donation dollar for dollar — can you believe that? — and we all raised more than $13,000 for the cause.
Not bad for a bunch of food bloggers, huh?
Well, here’s the recipe!
Pinwheel Ice Box Cookies
Recipe by Gale Gand
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter well; then add the sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and then the vanilla.
On the low setting, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Divide the dough in half and return half the dough to the mixer. Add the warm melted chocolate and mix to combine. Shape both pieces of dough into 4 by 4-inch square, and wrap them in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
Cut each square into 4 strips then place them on a sheet pan and keep chilled while you roll out the dough. Between pieces of parchment paper, roll out a piece of chocolate dough into a rectangle 6 by 7 inches (have a ruler nearby). Roll a piece of vanilla dough out into a 6 by 6-inch square. Peel off the top pieces of parchment from both doughs and flip the vanilla dough onto the chocolate, allowing 1/2-inch border of chocolate dough around the top and bottom. Press the 2 doughs together lightly with a cake pan or other flat pan. Peel off the top piece of parchment and fold the 1/2-inch of over hanging chocolate dough up and over the vanilla dough. Use the parchment to roll up the dough into a tight pinwheel.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 4 to 5 hours (roll the dough a couple times the first hour so it doesn’t develop a flat side). Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a sheet pan. Unwrap the roll and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place them 1 1/2 inches apart on the sheet pan and bake for 9 to 11 minutes. Cool.