Monday, 19 September 2011

Pinwheel biscuits

I’ve always had a thing for a spiral (and in fact am frittering away my life looking for a suitably worthy garment on which to sew the red-and-white spiral buttons I got many moons ago from Buttonmania. (I have a lot of buttons experiencing that fate. Button paralysis, it’s called – a subcategory of that infamous scourge of the amateur sewist, stash paralysis.) And I fear I would be one of those unfortunates to be sucked into a whirlpool just by contemplating it a moment too long).

These are Vertigo-in-a-biscuit! I’m sure I remember these on a table at a school fete in 1982, and I was pretty delighted with them then, and curious about how they were done – in the same way that I remain curious about Castlemaine Rock.

I made the straight chocolate-and-vanilla recipe from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies, and no sooner had I slid the rolled log into the fridge than I got to thinking of all the other two-toned flavours that could be made. So I immediately got to making a matcha and white chocolate version.

220g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
30g unsweetened chocolate
115g butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
150g sugar (I used raw)
1 egg
1 teaspoon powdered instant coffee (I used not-instant ground coffee)
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped (I used walnuts)

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. (Or in a double boiler like Maida, although 30g would get lost in the corners, I’d imagine.)

Cream the butter, add vanilla, sugar and egg one by one, beating well. Drop the speed to low and add the dry ingredients just until it all comes together.

At this point, Maida says to take out a cup of the dough. That didn’t seem exact enough for me, so I added up the weight of all the ingredients and took out 270g. The melted chocolate and coffee went into one half, and the almond extract and pecans into the other.

Sandwich one lump of dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll out to a 14"x9" oblong. I have no concept of what this would look like even in centimetres, so I took a leaf out of My Little Kitchen’s book and taped the dimensions on the bench, where they showed through the paper as a guide. When it was more or less the right size overall, I peeled off the top layer of paper and trimmed off the excess from the sides, using it to fill in the corners. The dough was sticky but quite malleable, so this wasn’t too hard. Same for the other lump of dough, and then carefully, carefully laid one evenly atop the other.

Then the paper beneath the dough can be used to help roll up along the long side to form the roll. It all seemed to come together pretty well, and into the fridge to firm up for a few hours.

Then it’s all fun – slicing the log into ½ centimetre rounds, exposing the nice even spiral.

They’re baked for 12 minutes at 180C until golden at the edges, and out they come, pretty and buttery and crunchy.

For the second version, I simply replaced the chocolate and coffee with a tablespoon of matcha, and the almond extract and walnuts with 30g white chocolate. They were okay, and nice-looking, although the white chocolate didn’t come through strongly – to be expected, really. I might try more white chocolate next time, paired with lemon.

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