When my grandmother died, I was lucky enough to receive a few of her hand written recipe cards. They were divided up among the family and I got a handful that included many cookie recipes. Of course, there are about five different ones for sugar cookies and I still don’t think I have her exact recipe. I have never successfully recreated hers — which are drop sugar cookies and cakey rather than chewy. And even if she had written it down, it probably would have said something to the effect of “Cream some butter with sugar and eggs. Add a few handfuls of flour, a spoonful of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Bake in a medium hot oven for as long as it takes.” Exact recipes were not her thing.
While I was figuring out which Christmas cookies to bake, one recipe that caught my eye was called “Whirligig Cookies.” At first, I thought the name indicated that these were pantry cleaning cookies — because in my family, the corner lazy susan cabinets were always called “whirligigs.” And of course, that’s where all the baking supplies were usually kept in the days before giant walk in pantries. But who knows — they are a pinwheel/jelly roll style cookie, so maybe that’s how they got their name.
In the end, I don’t really even remember her making these, but they sounded interesting so I gave it a try. I substituted sunflower seed butter for peanut butter (b/c of our peanut allergies), white whole wheat flour for the all purpose, and cut the sugar in half. You could obviously use regular peanut butter and regular flour if you like — and feel free to up the sugar to 1 cup of each brown and white sugars. It’s Christmas time baby.
Whole Grain Whirligig Cookies
Makes about three dozen large cookies
1 cup of butter, softened (two sticks)
1/2 cup sugar (can use up to one cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar (can use up to one cup)
1 cup of sunflower seed butter (or other nut butter of your choice)
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
10 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars, and sunflower seed butter together with an electric mixer for about two minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at at time, and beat until incorporated.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In about 2-3 additions, add flour mixture to butter mixture — mixing only until just incorporated. Finish mixing with a spatula or wooden spoon. Put finished cookie dough in the fridge for a few minutes.
4. Meanwhile, over low heat or in a double boiler, melt chocolate. Let cool slightly.
5. Remove dough from fridge and place on a large sheet of parchment paper. Using either a rolling pin (it helped to oil my rolling pin a bit) or just patting it with your hands, flatten into a 12×14 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. This is cookie dough, so be a little gentle with it because it is very tender.
6. Pour most of melted chocolate on top of dough rectangle and spread evenly over entire surface. Use more if needed (it will depend on the size of your final rectangle).
7. Using the parchment paper to help, carefully roll up the dough rectangle jelly roll style in order to make one large “log.” (Warning: this will be messy and chocolate will probably ooze out. Just be gentle while you are rolling it up and attempt to wrap it with the seam side down.) Wrap parchment around it and place in fridge for 45 minutes to an hour, until dough and chocolate have hardened.
8. Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove dough from fridge and, using a very sharp knife, cut into 1/3 inch slices (or as thick as you want them). Line a baking sheet with parchment and lay the slices on it cut side up. Bake for 12-13 minutes until just barely golden. Do not overbake or they will dry out.
(Alternatively, you can cut your large rectangle of dough into two skinny rectangles if you want smaller cookies. As is, these cookies turn out rather large (about 3 inches across).