Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fruits of Labor: Fruit-filled Pinwheel cookies

Last night I had one of my m/c nightmares.  I hate these nightmares.  They remind me that even if everything is going wonderfully, there's always the chance that it won't.  And the nightmares are always so real that I wake up in a sweat, screaming "nooooooo" silently, convinced I've lost this pregnancy.  Luckily, there is plenty of kicking around in there to prove me wrong, but it doesn't make the feeling of complete panic and despair dissipate much faster.  And of course, fellow bloggers have been on my mind ... Melissa over at You Found What In There has just been put on bedrest, and they've been giving her little girl blood transfusions at 26 weeks (go give her support and a hug, OK? and if you live near her--she's getting treatments in Akron--go bring her and her family a casserole).

Last night's dream may also have been related to the fact that S. put up the crib on Sunday ("no reason not to," he said, in his assured-engineer-matter-of-fact kind of way), and my friend T. delivered over an exersaucer, high chair, bumbo, and bassinet.  Put that together with the stroller I won this weekend in a local giveaway, and the car seat and bouncer we borrowed from T. earlier this month, I think we're pretty well outfitted, at least for the big stuff.  There has been some hushed talk at work about the folks in my building (none of whom I work with directly or report to, so the relationship is purely spatial) throwing me a baby shower, but part of me hopes they don't; while I'd still like a baby carrier and some new towels, and I wouldn't mind a nursing pillow to replace the one I lent out (and maybe some clothes, but I haven't gone through the stuff in the basement yet to see what we can use), I don't want to be treated like a "happy go lucky" new mom-to-be ... not everyone here knows the back story, and with the spate of recent pregnancies and births in the office, not to mention December just weeks away, people have had their hands full keeping up with gift-giving, anyway.

Ian and I continue to churn out cookies for the upcoming holidays, though, because our kitchen oven is a reliable thing, and these whimsical ones were next in line after the sugar cookies, because they keep well in the freezer, too, and you can make about 75 of them at one fell swoop (the original recipe says 100; I say, yeah, whatever).  You can't help but feel cheerier, looking at them, and I won't say how eating them feels, because that implies I was eating them.  (Which I would never do, of course, considering that I'm baking for completely altruistic reasons, right?  Don't answer that.)

I like the little bit of whole grain in them, which gives them a slightly nutty flavor, even without nuts.  You can also skip the first part (making cranberry apple butter), and just use blackberry jam (all-fruit, please! the kind sweetened only with fruit juice) or apple butter (watch the sugar here, too ... you can get perfectly good natural apple butter without corn syrup in your natural foods section), or Nutella (the sugar rule no longer applies here, of course), or whatever strikes your fancy.  Unfortunately, I don't have a vegan option this time; I'm just not sure how to replace an egg yolk (though you could try the 1 T. ground flax plus 3 T. water, mixed, for every egg, and just see how it goes).  Coconut cream/milk would be fine for the heavy cream, and vegan margarine for the butter.  Agave for the honey.

And when you're done, make sure that you fully appreciate the fruits of your own labor.

Fruit-filled Pinwheel Cookies

1/2 c. fresh cranberries, (2 ounces)
2 Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored and diced
3 T. honey, to taste
1/2 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
1/4 c. water
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. almond extract
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c.unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 c.all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
3 T. heavy cream
1/2 c. shortening

For the cranberry apple butter: Using a paring knife, scrape and gather all the grains of the vanilla bean.

Wash the cranberries. Pick out and discard any bad ones (discolored, shriveled or bruised). Place the cranberries, apples, honey, grains of vanilla bean, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 cup of water in a non-stick saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any foam that develops on the top. Cover and cook for about 25 minutes, until the cranberries have burst. Using a wooden spoon, stir frequently to prevent the cranberries and apples from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool, then blend the mixture in a mini-blender (or a regular blender if you don't have a mini).

For the cookie dough:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and egg yolk with 1/2 cup of sugar for about 5-6 minutes. You'll get a pale, yellow foam and the texture of the eggs will be thicker. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.

In a bowl, combine the flours, salt and baking soda. Sift all the dry ingredients.

Cream the butter with 1/2 cup of sugar (whisk using a stand-mixer to get as much air as possible in the butter). Add the egg mixture, the dry ingredients and the heavy cream. Finish with shortening. Mix well. Divide the dough and roll into 3 (16 x 6-inch) rectangles.

For each rectangle of cookie dough, spread about 1-1/2 tablespoons of cranberry apple butter stopping 2 inches before the end of the rectangle (the cranberry apple butter will spread eventually until the end). The layer should be very thin so it doesn't burst on the side when rolled. Roll the dough the long way so that it forms a 16-inch log.  Repeat for the next 2 logs of cookie dough and wrap them in plastic wrap. Chill them in the freezer until firm. It'll take at least 30 minutes to harden. Slice the logs into ½-inch thick discs. Place the cookies on a baking sheet previously lined with parchment paper. Make sure they are spaced out so they don't touch each other when they expand.

Bake for about 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the heat to 350°F for another 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
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  1. So sorry about the dreams. I remember those. They're horrid. And you know, you're allowed to say no to lots of new baby things, even if you say yes the next time. I didn't do anything before Wesley was born until the midwife bullied me (compassionately, of course) into installing the car seat. The stores will be open and people will bring and send you things and if you don't WANT to sort clothes right now you don't have to.

  2. Ugh, so sorry you've been experiencing nightmares lately, those are so hard to deal with without our own worries to contend with. Thinking of you and sending love ((hugs))

  3. I can imagine what nightmares must be like once you finally are pregnant... I know I'll have them. I love the combo of recipe and life blog!

  4. I hope the nightmares go away and stay away. How awful they must be. ((hugs))

  5. Somehow, I always check out your blog when I'm hungry:) I love jammy cookies most of all, and these look delicious.

    I'm sorry about the nightmare, though. Very sorry. It's terrible that after surviving things it isn't possible to just jettison the worry...but, naturally that's impossible. Glad there's plenty of movement to reassure you.

  6. Mmmm cookies. Why are pregnancy dreams so unforgiving sometimes? Scientists should study this.


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