The Christmas season reminds me of family, and that reminds me of cookies. My grandmothers were the champions of cookies. My mother was perpetually fighting the battle against weight gain, so I have few memories of her making cookies at any time. She specialized in other dishes.
My maternal grandmother, whom we called Sweetie Pie, made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and she had a batch ready almost every time we went to see her when she lived in Chicago. Late in her life she tried to give us cookies made from grocery store cookie dough, but we immediately noticed the difference and let her know about it. After she realized that we weren’t fooled, she went back to the originals.
My paternal grandmother, known as Grandma, produced many cookies for us, but the ones I remember best were pinwheel cookies. Pinwheel cookies are small cookies with chocolate and vanilla spirals. They melt in your mouth. It was impossible to eat just one. I learned to make them after Grandma became old and stopped making them. Now my daughter Libby makes them every Christmas and brings them to the family gathering.
Pinwheel cookies are easy to make. Just find a refrigerator cookie recipe in your big fat cookbook. You say your big fat cookbook doesn’t tell you how to make refrigerator cookies? It seems to me that some of the best concoctions get forgotten by cookbook writers. That’s why we have public libraries and the Internet. But don’t despair. Here is my recipe, revised from my old Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 1953 edition:
½ cup shortening or butter
½ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons milk
1- 1 ounce square unsweetened chocolate, melted
Cream shortening and sugar. Add egg yolk, milk and vanilla. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to shortening/sugar mixture and mix. Divide the dough in half. To one half add chocolate; mix thoroughly. Chill both halves. Roll each half into a long rectangle 1/8 inch thick on waxed paper. Turn the white half onto the chocolate half. Let chocolate extend a half inch beyond the white part on the edge toward which you roll. Remove paper and roll as for jelly roll, into a long tube. The size of the cookies will depend on the shape of the rectangles you roll together. Wrap in waxed paper. Chill for several hours or overnight. Cut the tubes into thin slices, about ¼ inch thick. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees about ten minutes. Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.