Posted in Home Baking, PotPourri, Sweets for the Sweet

In Which One Revisits a High School Baking Project…


I have an issue with pinwheel cookies.  It’s not that I don’t like these swirly-patterned / bi-colored discs of buttery sweetness, though.   It’s an issue that stems from my freshman year in high school – the time my classmates and I had to bake them for a Home Ec. quiz.  As luck would have it, the dough for the cookies didn’t chill properly and the end result was a gloopy mess that wouldn’t hold together and the electric oven in the Practical Arts room short-circuited.

I had a classmate who, for some weird reason, hated me on sight since we were in fifth grade.  This girl was not above using sarcasm, a very loud voice, and an extremely aggressive personality to make a point.  And, in this case, her point was that everything that went wrong was my fault.  This, in itself, was very unreasonable: she was our group leader and never allowed me to do anything (on account that she said – and told everyone – that I was too clumsy and stupid to do anything).  What’s more, I was nowhere near the oven; we were also the last group to do the baking quiz.  When our teacher heard her accusations, she pretty much felt sorry for me and gave me a passing grade despite the fact that my group was unable to bake a batch of cookies.  When my loud-mouthed classmate protested, the teacher quelled her by saying, “It’s bad enough that she has to deal with you all the time, but for you to accuse her of being responsible for everything going wrong is just too much.”

That girl went on to treat me like a pariah throughout high school and pretty much made me feel very defective right up until the day we graduated.  I am grateful that I rarely ever see her these days and, even when I do, I pay her no mind; she never says anything nice to me, even now that we’ve all grown up.

But anyway, this brings us back to the subject of pinwheel cookies.  I couldn’t find my old Home Ec. workbook (yes, I kept it; it’s somewhere in the kitchen…), so I decided to play with Nigella Lawson‘s snickerdoodle recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess.

More like snails than pinwheels...
More like snails than pinwheels…

For this particular baking project, you have to make two batches of dough: one each for the plain and colored parts of the cookie.  You also don’t need to dredge these in sugar or add any spices; that’d make your end product a touch too distracting.  Chocolate and vanilla is the most common flavor combination used for making pinwheel cookies, but I decided to give mine an Asian twist by making a pale green and gold batch of pandan and almond cookies.

Appearance-wise, I’m still a long way off from baking perfect hypnotic circles; indeed, mine look more like snails than pinwheels!  Nevertheless, they’re quite delicious.  These are subtly sweet cookies that crumble beautifully when bitten into and they melt nicely in your mouth.  These are just the thing to eat with a cup of tea on a rainy afternoon and they’re pretty enough to give away as presents.  (And, as the Antipodean keeps telling me, these travel well.  Hint, hint, hint…)

I’ll be honest: not only did I bake these because I wanted to spruce up my baking repertoire, but I wanted to prove to myself once and for all that my bad-tempered classmate was wrong all along.  I’m not useless and I’m not unlucky, either.  Now that is something I can certainly be proud of.

Pandan and Almond Pinwheels

For the almond layer:

  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams granulated white sugar
  • 100 grams soft margarine
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond flavoring

For the pandan layer:

  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 100 grams granulated white sugar
  • 100 grams soft margarine
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Ferna Flavocol in Pandan (Note:  It’s a flavoring extract that also doubles as a colorant.  If you can’t find it, use 1 teaspoon clear pandan flavoring + a few drops of green food coloring.)

Line two lipped cookie sheets with waxed paper or baking parchment.  Set aside.

Prepare the almond layer first.  Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; then mix in the egg, baking powder, and flavoring till well combined.  Add the flour and mix until a soft, cohesive dough forms.  Press into an even-surfaced rectangle on one of the cookie sheets.  Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  Repeat the procedure for the pandan layer.

Remove the cookie sheets from the fridge.  Press the pandan layer carefully onto the almond layer; remove the waxed paper sticking to the pandan layer.  Working from the long edge, carefully roll the layered dough into a log.  Cut in half; wrap both halves in waxed paper.  Freeze until ready to use.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.  Grease a pair of cookie sheets;  set aside.  Unwrap the dough logs and cut into slices about a quarter of an inch thick.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove immediately from the oven and allow to cool for about 20 seconds before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 48 cookies.



Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended in June 2016 These days, she works full time at Philippine Tatler as a features writer under the nom de guerre Marga Manlapig. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel. Follow her on Instagram at @midgekmanlapig.

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