This week’s column became a game of process and elimination, seriously! It was like writing down all your favorite holiday recipes, and then labeling them in your favorite order. There were many analogies that went into picking the recipe. It wasn’t based upon taste alone, I also entered in the memories associated with my choices. Lastly; each recipe considered came from the dessert category.
As you can see the winner is the Pinwheel Cookie! Second place for me was Orange Slice Cake and 3rd was Marshmallow Date Roll. There are so many more holiday sweet favorites, my list is extremely long, and I can never make them all every year. However; I do make plenty of time to pick those that are favorites of guests coming into our home. I think most good cooks do the same thing.
Cookies have been around since the 7th century AD, but many say they made a big arrival in the 20th century in France. Interestingly enough the pinwheel in America became popular in the 1930’s and was considered a food by-product of the great depression. I had no idea about that part! When you examine the ingredients, you will find there’s not a huge amount of sugar and no icing. Also dried fruits were a very common thing, and economical. Fillings today can be all sorts of things like chocolate, strawberry etc.
As we sit down at the many dinners filling this season, I would like to pose a question regarding the serving of dessert! I’ve tried narrowing this question down and asking Ms. Manners, but so far, I haven’t gotten the answer I was hoping to find. So here goes: When you have a dining event in your home and let’s say there are 10 people present, what is the protocol for dessert? As a frequent host my answer remains: Dessert is served when those who are dining are finished with the main meal, most particularly, the host/hostess. This would be after the entrée & salad dishes have been removed from the table. For many years, I have observed people practically running for the dessert table when there were 2-3 people still eating the main course. (Yes, at big functions, I serve more than one dessert, and I sometimes make a dessert ‘display’.) I feel this rush to the dessert table, before everyone is done eating is just poor manners, in general!
When there’s a super large gathering of people our expectations definitely need to modify. Especially when things are served buffet style. Sometimes I also think the proximity to the kitchen makes a difference in how people act. I enjoy allowing folks time to digest the large dinner, tidy a few things, then serve the after-dinner coffee & dessert. OK, so I was raised by parents with high expectations when it came to dining. We also knew how to dress when we dined within our home, a restaurant or friend’s home….’Ut oh’ perhaps I better close out this dessert discussion before I bury myself in this one. My hostess decision is the next time my repeat offender comes to our home I will handle dessert totally different. The presentation will not be seen or displayed prior to the meal. And if someone jumps up and starts to head for the desserts, I’ll just politely say: ‘Let’s wait please, as some are still enjoying their dinner, etc.’
I’ll be making at least a double of the pinwheel recipe because they freeze so wonderfully. The hour is quickly approaching for this elf to get some much-needed rest. I hope your holiday season is filled with joy and peace, as we celebrate the real reason for the season. Merry Christmas, Debbie, ‘The Covered Dish’.
Date Pinwheel Cookies
1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound dates, finely chopped
½ cup white sugar
¾ cup water
1 cup finely chopped nutmeats, Walnuts or Pecans
Cook the filling ingredients except the nuts over low heat until the mixture becomes pasty, adding chopped nuts at the end; cool.
Cream together the butter with the white sugar and the brown sugar. Add the beaten eggs to the mixture, blending until smooth. In a separate bowl combine all the dry ingredients: flour, soda, cinnamon & salt. Add to the creamed mixture, blending well.
Divide the dough in half and roll each portion about ¼ inch thick, as if you’re rolling cinnamon rolls. If dough is too soft, place in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. Another consideration is to roll the dough between parchment paper or waxed paper for easier handling. Split the date filling in half for each log. Spread the date fill over the dough within one-half inch of the outer edge.
Roll up the dough and slice ¼ in thick. (I like to refrigerate mine before slicing.) Bake on parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for approximately ten minutes.