Sunday, August 10, 2014

I'd rather be cooking

People think I am a very nice person because I'm always volunteering to bring treats to events. Sometimes I don't even volunteer; I just bring them. It leaves the impression that I am a really friendly, people-oriented, caring person.

Actually, I am a ginormous showoff. 

So, when I got the opportunity (read: shamelessly volunteered) to bring treats to a baptism Saturday, I took advantage of the chance to perfect a recipe a I tried a couple of weeks ago and also make cookies guaranteed to fuel my incessant need for gastronomical praise. They're a little Italian, a lot buttery and really, really pretty. 

I made both Neapolitan and spumoni pinwheels. If you've never had a pinwheel, they're cookies that are light, flaky, simple but make you look like a champion. Rachel and I talked about the best way to make Neapolitan cookies for several days before she suggested pinwheels and I found a recipe in "The Cookiepedia." 

However, anyone can do chocolate and vanilla. I wanted to have some fun. I tracked down strawberry extract and bam! Neapolitan pinwheels. 


These cookies look really complex, but they're not. They take some time, since there are two refrigeration periods. 

Now that I'd made the one Italian-flavored layered ice cream, why not move onto the much more delicious Italian-flavored ice cream? If you've never had spumoni ice cream, go get some. I'll wait.

OK, back to the cookies. I had to order pistachio extract; I couldn't find it anywhere. Cherry was pretty common, though. 

These took a second go-round because the first time I made them, I neglected to take into account what adding more liquid to an already sort of soft dough would do to its texture. It rolled out beautifully, but I could not then move the flattened dough on top of the chocolate dough. I ended up piling it on and kneading it into place. That works, and you can do it. But it's a little messier than I planned, and you end up with a very thin outer layer.

So pretty

So, have all your extracts and about four hours of time mapped out?

Neapolitan pinwheels
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tsp strawberry extract
1 vanilla bean, sliced with seeds scraped out, or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (look in a cake decorating section)
Few drops red food coloring

Spumoni pinwheels
1 tsp pistachio extract
1 tsp cherry extract
4 tablespoons flour, divided
Few drops red and green food coloring

1. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. 

2.Add eggs and vanilla extract. 

3. Mix in dry ingredients until it’s just mixed together. 

4. Separate into three equal parts. In one, add the cocoa; mix until well combined. In the second, add the vanilla bean paste or vanilla bean; mix well. In the third, add strawberry extract and food coloring; mix well. Wrap each section of dough in plastic wrap (or put into a container) and refrigerate for at least an hour.

4a. If you're making spumoni pinwheels, it's the same but add individual extracts to the second and third chunks as well as corroborating food coloring. Add 2 tablespoons of flour to each to thicken it.

5. Take the dough out of the fridge, grease or flour your rolling surface and rolling pin. (You may want to roll out the dough on parchment paper or aluminum foil.) Put one flavor of dough (it doesn’t matter which) on your surface and roll to about ¼ inch thick. You want it to be basically rectangular, but the process is pretty forgiving, so don’t stress about the 90-degree angles. Transfer the rectangle to a piece of foil, parchment paper or plastic wrap.

6. Do the same with the other two doughs and stack them on top of the first one – again, all roughly the same size and shape. Do a little jerryrigging of the dough if needed. Trust me, it does not need to be perfect, or even close to it. The great thing about these cookies is the dough will basically rise to fill the holes as needed.

7. Using the foil or wrap, roll the dough up, wrap it up and stick it in the freezer for an hour.

8. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease or put parchment paper on cookie sheets. Using a sharp knife, slice the cookie roll into ¼-inch thick slices, put them on the sheet about an inch apart (they rise some, but not as much as normal cookies) and bake for about 12 minutes. Let cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.

I heart pretty food.
Now, this wouldn't be a Heidi thing if I didn't way undersell it to make sure no one is disappointed, so here goes. These cookies taste quite good, but don't expect the goodness of, say, my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. But they look so pretty that you can forgive them for not being chocolate chip cookies.

Happy baking! (And mixing and coloring and rolling and freezing and slicing.)

1 comment:

  1. Love your columns. I almost always laugh and sometimes drool.