My beloved Grandma Gennevive is famous at church and among friends and family for her date pinwheels. Still, today, if you go to her house – it’s a sure bet she has a roll of these in the freezer ready to slice and bake. One never knows when another could use a plate of date pinwheels to help with grief, as a congratulations or a thank you. As a child, I never got very excited about them – they paled in comparison to other Christmas delights higher on the sugar spectrum!
Once I discovered the amazing caramel depth of Medjool dates – I tasted her date pinwheels with a new set of taste buds. Suddenly as an adult they seemed over sugary. I wondered if I could come up with a way to make them showcase the amazing natural sweetness of the medjools and the rich nuttiness of pecans. and honor the special memories of this cookie in my family.
After a few tries – I think I came up with a strong competitor for the “showier” Christmas treats – even better they are free of refined sweeteners and gluten!
I have included these in our semi annual cookie swaps. It is a fun afternoon – joining with lovely friends who share the same clean eating philosophy. We all leave with a huge variety of healthy holiday treats! The past two years we’ve skipped – but hopefully the tradition will return in future years! Life is busy and we all do our very best. For now – I’ll settle on the warm memories of cookie swaps past.
These are a little putsy, after all they are a Christmas cookie – so plan enough time to chill the dough and the filling. I prefer to make them over a couple of days so it doesn’t seem like such an undertaking.
4 cups tef flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup date or coconut sugar
1/4 cup honey
6 Tblspns butter at room temperature (you can substitute all coconut oil – however, the cookies will be on the oily side and not as soft)
1/2 cup coconut oil at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups pitted medjool dates
1 cup water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans – very finely chopped or pulsed to a fine texture in a food processor
Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside. IN the bowl of a standing mixer beat the butter and the coconut oil until thoroughly mixed and as fluffy as it seemed like it will get. Add date or coconut sugar and honey. Mix to combine. Add vanilla and eggs (do eggs 1 at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one).
Gradually mix in dry ingredients.
Mixed dough will seem wet – once it chills it is very easy to work with.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap or seal in an air tight container, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours up up to 2 days.
In a small sauce pan, combine dates, water and cinnamon. Cook over medium-high heat.
Luscious medjool dates and spicy cinnamon simmer in a bit of water, which allows the dates to break up. it also evaporates off and prevents burning.
Using a potato masher, break up the dates as they cook. Continue to mash and mix until it is fairly smooth, thick and shiny.
Medjool dates and cinnamon have been cooked and mashed to a smooth, thick consistency.
Cool mixture slightly before stirring in pecans. You can also store this covered and refrigerated for a couple of days before stirring in pecans and assembling the cookies.
When you are ready to assemble the cookies – tear off two large pieces of parchments paper. You will need to roll out 1/3 or the dough between the two layers. You can’t tape the parchment to the counter to keep it from sliding, because tape doesn’t stick to it. Instead, I make the pieces long enough so I can tuck an end or a corner between my hip and the edge of the counter.
Roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 10″ X 6″ and 1/3″ thick.
You will not end up with a perfect rectangle – so simple trim and patch until you have it – the dough is that easy to work with – AND it won’t get tough, because tef has no gluten!
Now – you can spread your filling – evenly, 1/4″ thick.
Spread filling 1/4″ thick
The next part – takes a bit of patience – but you have come this far! Use the edge of the parchment near you to lift up the edge closest to you and begin to roll the center – gently and tightly.
First role the center in
Photo credit: Dan
Lift outer edge of parchment to push the roll away from you.
Photo credit: Dan
Then, pull the parchment off the top of the log, grasp the outer edges further way from you and repeat the rolling.
Photo credit: Dan
Wrap the log in the parchment – then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
When you are ready to bake, line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Slice chilled cookies with a sharp knife, into 1/3″ thick rounds. I like to gently reshape them into a circle – they tend to flattened a bit when you cut them.
Sliced chilled log into 1/3″ thick slices.
If the flat bottoms bother you, like they do me – just gently reshape with your fingers when you place them on the baking sheet(:
Place the cookies 1-2″ inches apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes – rotate sheets at 6 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooking rack.
Get ready for amazing aroma when you open the oven!
When you store these, place sheets of parchment between layers. They freeze very well – and make a great addition to a cookie bake!
Enjoy and have a BRIGHT, MERRY, DELIGHTFUL Christmas!