Cookie Calendar: Pinwheel Icebox Cookies

cookiecalendar.jpgSometimes, you can't beat the taste of a good, basic butter cookie. Still, a plain vanilla cookie on the holiday platter is so . . . plain vanilla.

Pinwheel cookies give you the opportunity to gussy up a tasty treat for Christmas without a great deal of extra work. The tender cookies are rich and delicious, and the spiral pattern shouts, "Ooh, special!"

I made these vanilla-chocolate pinwheel cookies the year after I baked Alton Brown's Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheel Cookies. I'd admired the spiral design of those cookies, but I wanted a version that would be smaller (remember, smaller is better for holiday cookies - the big ones will all get ignored) and that didn't have crushed candy. The candy bits kind of scared people off, I think.

While they won't be the snazziest or most exotically flavored cookie you make, they'll be a good basic cookie that will please your pickier guests.

I've reworked the recipe a bit to follow a more standard format.

Pinwheel Icebox Cookies
Source: The Joy of Cooking
Yield: About 42 2½-inch cookies

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
⅔ cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. Stir in the flour mixture until blended.

3. Divide the dough in half. Knead the melted chocolate into half the dough. If the dough is soft, chill until firm.

4. Roll the white and brown doughs separately into equal sized ¹⁄₈-inch-thick rectangles, about 11 inches wide on the short side. Place the dark dough on the light dough and roll up like a jelly roll. Wrap the roll in parchment or wax paper and chill it until firm, 4 to 12 hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets. Cut the log into ³⁄₁₆-inch-thick slices and arrange about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.

6. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. The longer the baking time, the crisper the cookies. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

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