Homespun Edge

December 11, 2008


Okay, people, let’s hear it: how are you holding up?  Is cookie fatigue setting in?  I mean in your own kitchens, though I suppose you could catch a slight case of cookie fatigue just from hanging around here this week.  First it was pistachio-dried cherry cookies and then it was chocolate-espresso snowcaps.  And now it’s these peanut butter pinwheels, which—let me tell you—nearly gave me cookie fatigue and them some.  In fact, it had me ready to throw in the spatula.



Thankfully, I recovered and the confections will continue to emerge from the oven.  But for a short time on Sunday, when I made these stripey cookies, it was dicey.   You see, I committed the cardinal sin of cooking/baking: I didn’t read the recipe through before baking the cookies.  There, I said it.





Before you revoke my home baker license, at least let me give you the grizzly details.  I was already two batches of cookies (the aforementioned pistachio-cherry and chocolate-espresso lovelies) in for the day when I intrepidly embarked on the third.  I let some dark chocolate melt in a steamy glass bowl set over a pot of gently bubbling water.  I swirled in some chunky peanut butter, creating a more American version of Nutella that took all my willpower not to spoon directly into my mouth, cookies be damned.  Next, I went to cream the butter and sugar, as instructed by the recipe …



But with a sinking feeling, I realized that the recipe did not list butter among the ingredients.  And while I had sticks of the stuff waiting in the wings, I had No Idea how much to use.  So, first, I used too little (one stick, hoping the recipe’s author was all about nice, neat amounts).  I ended up with a raggedy dough more reminiscent of confetti than of a supple ball that could be rolled into a broad, smooth surface.



So I did the only reasonable thing and threw in another stick of butter, because, well, I was getting a little hysterical.  The dough came together but it was very sticky.  Which made it difficult to press into a 12-by-8 inch rectangle.  And tricky to slather with that heavenly peanut buttery melted chocolate.  And nearly impossible to roll up, sleeping bag-style, into a slice-able log.  There were some clenched jaw moments, a few Blago-esque profanities and perhaps even a foot stamp.  Nothing like the holidays to bring out the best in me!


But, you know what?  They kinda worked.  Sure, I’d envisioned perfectly round disks, swirled with a psychedelic spiral of chocolate, and instead got squashed oval things.  But don’t we all like our Christmas cookies to have a bit of a homespun edge?


So the moral of the story is that the recipe below—at least in terms of the butter—is an approximation.  Because I’m certain that one stick is too little butter, and I’m pretty sure that two sticks is too much (though I think the two sticks business might have worked better had I quickly rolled the dough into a rectangle and then chilled that before slathering it with chocolate and rolling).  My guess is that 1 1/2 sticks would be perfect (it’s what we scientists call the “Goldilocks Approach.”  Who’s up for a little holiday experimentation?  If you try this out, do let us know how it goes!

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pinwheels

Printable Recipe

For filling:

6 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter [I used natural peanut butter and it worked well]

For dough:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature [UPDATE: see Ellen’s comment below.  2 sticks it is.]
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make filling:
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, and remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter.

Make dough:
Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then beat in egg and vanilla. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into egg mixture and beat until combined well.

Assemble rolls:
Halve dough and roll out each half between sheets of wax paper into a roughly 12- by 8-inch rectangle. Remove top sheets of wax paper (if they stick too much, chill dough briefly to firm up slightly) and divide chocolate filling between rectangles, spreading it in an even layer. Tightly roll up each rectangle jelly-roll fashion, beginning with a long side and using wax paper as an aid, to form a 12-inch log. Wrap rolls in wax paper and then foil. Chill rolls until firm, at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Working with 1 roll at a time (keep remaining roll chilled), cut rolls crosswise into 1/8-inch-thick slices and arrange slices 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake in batches in middle of oven until pale golden and set, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer warm cookies to racks to cool.

15 Responses to “Homespun Edge”

  1. eggsonsunday Says:

    Way to recover, Kristin! They look delicious – I would have never known. And seriously, I’ve never met a chocolate and peanut butter cookie that I didn’t like; these I’m sure will be no exception. Must try them! 🙂 -Amy

  2. Ellen Says:

    I have this same recipe on hand, and it calls for 2 sticks of softened unsalted butter. 🙂

  3. Amy: That reminds me, I still need to bake those chocolate-PB cupcakes you baked ….

    Ellen: THANK YOU! You’re the heroine of the story. I’m wondering if the problem for me was that I had to add half the butter at the end of the mixing?

  4. Winker Says:

    Cookie fatigue!?
    HELL NO!
    Everyone LOVES cookies!
    Thanks for sharing – I’m going to make those gorgeous pistachio ice box cookies this weekend.

  5. JENA Says:

    Just had to tell you i made your Chocolate Espresso Cookies the other night and they are already gone with requests to bake more VERY SOON…only this time “double or triple the recipe” according to my fiance 🙂 haha thanks for the great recipes! keep em coming!

  6. Michelle Says:

    Mmmmm… I wonder what these would taste like with almond butter?

  7. Dawn in CA Says:

    Way to pull through! They look beautiful. I wonder if the dough might be easier to work with if you chill it for a few minutes before rolling it flat, and maybe roll it out between wax paper or parchment? In any event, PB+Chocolate, love it.

  8. duodishes Says:

    Those look quite tasty! We’ve discovered that a nice sugar cookie dough will go a long way if you want to spice it up. The possibilities are endless!

  9. joythebaker Says:

    You really pulled through with these cookies. They look amazing! i absolutely LOVE the photos. Rock on with your cookie madness!

  10. Unbelievable cookies and photos. Absolute excellent use of peanut butter!

  11. Megan Says:

    your photos are absolutely mouthwatering. YUMM!

  12. winker: I hope the pistachio cookies go well!

    Jena: Yay!

    Michelle: My mind bent a little when I read your comment. Delicious.

    Dawn: I did roll out between sheets of wax paper, but I agree that chilling would have helped. Next time, next time …

    duodishes, joy, PB Boy, Megan: Thanks!

  13. Rachel M. Says:

    I did give mine time to chill…2 hours…

    after 1 hour a rolled the log on the counter so it would be nic and round…

    these are super easy and fun to make…

    I didn’t have chunky PB so I chopped up roasted peanuts and sprinkled them on top of the chocolate mix…

  14. Rachel M.: That’s wonderful to hear! Thanks for the report.

  15. Olga Says:

    It’s so funny: your photo of melting chocolate looks almost exactly like the one I have on my post for coconut macaroons w/dark chocolate and almonds 😉 We might have the same red spatula: Festive!

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