The best season of the year is here! The month of December has always been my favourite and is more so this time as a lot of my relatives are visiting Dubai and we are having plenty of get togethers and stuff which is an enjoyable experience for all of us. This year I wanted to kick start my Christmas goodies series pretty early but eventually couldn't manage to start posting them on time. I thought of starting off last week but decided to wait for Advent which was on Nov 30th. Advent is essentially a season of preparation and is a date designated four Sundays before Christmas. Before you proceed I invite you to read my introductory post on Christmas and its real meaning. A post which I had written in 2011 but essential to be read before every Christmas lest we allow the commercialisation of this festive season to overwhelm us or even blind us into thinking it is the birthday of Santa! (yep, pretty much the kind of comments I keep reading on Facebook and such)
So here it is, my first post of the season - a delicious, crumbly, melt in the mouth sort of a short bread cookie in the form of pinwheels/spirals. It has been my first experience working with a delicate and crumbly dough and there was no stopping me thereafter.
The making of these spirals requires attention. Don't miss the steps or you could end up with some extra soft dough that is hard to work with. If you mess around with the steps you may end up with spirals that are way too crumbly but they will still be delicious. If they do indeed crumble up, use them as a base in trifle puddings by layering them with some custard and jelly and chopped fruits and nuts.
Have a magical and meaningful season folks! Do give this recipe a try and I hope you enjoy entertaining your guests this Christmas with these lovely cookies!
Check the full Christmas Recipe Collection by clicking on the picture below
Date & Lemon Spirals
For the dough:
For the filling
- 225 grams / 8 oz butter, softened at room temperature
- 175 grams / 6 oz caster sugar, divided
- 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract * see notes
- 280 grams / 10 oz plain flour (maida)
- pinch of salt
To make the dough:
- 280 grams / 10 oz dried dates, stoned and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon blossom honey (I used regular honey)
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice * see notes
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
- 125 ml (about 1/2 cup) of water
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I reduced it to 1/2 teaspoon)
1. Place the butter and 140 gms/5 oz of the sugar into a large bowl and mix well. Beat in the egg yolk and lemon extract.
2. Sift together the flour and salt into the mixture and stir to combine. Use your hands to shape the mixture into a dough. Cover the bowl with cling film/plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 30-60 mins.
To make the filling:
1. Place the dates, honey, lemon juice, lemon rind and water in a heavy based saucepan and bring it to a boil and continue to simmer for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely then chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
2. Mix together the cinnamon and the remaining caster sugar in a bowl and keep aside.
1. Unwrap the dough and roll it out between two sheets of baking paper (grease proof paper) into a 30cm (12 inch) square.
2. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture all over the surface of the rolled dough and roll again lightly with the rolling pin.
3. Spread the prepared date mixture lightly over the dough leaving about 1cm space on all edges (so that the mixture doesn't spill out)
4. Starting from the side opposite to you roll the dough inwards towards you - pretty much like a Swiss roll. Try to roll it as tighly as possible. Wrap in cling film again and chill in the fridge for another 30 mins
5. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C / 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment
6. Remove the roll from the fridge, unwrap and using a serrated knife cut into thin slices.
7. Place the slices spaced well apart on the prepared baking sheets and bake in the oven for 12- 15 minutes (important - see note# 4) or until golden brown. They will still feel soft to touch but will harden as they cool.
8. Remove the baking sheets out and leave the spirals untouched to cool for 5-10 minutes. Then gently transfer them onto a wire rack until cooled completely.
1. Substitute lemon extract with lemon essence. I used the Foster's brand. Lemon extract is not to be confused with freshly squeezed lemon juice
2. Note that limes and lemons are different. Lemons are larger (almost the size of a tennis ball - 1 lemon fits inside the palm) and slightly sweet smelling. Limes are green and astringent in taste. In India you get lemons that look almost the same as limes. Use the yellow ones and dilute the juice slightly with water.
3. Once out of the oven the spirals will seem soft but they will harden upon cooling. Do not touch them when they are still warm or they will crumble. The spirals are extremely melt in the mouth and crumbly but so delicious
4. I suggest baking the spirals for a full 15 minutes as under baking them can make them soft and crumbly.
Recipe Source: The Perfect Christmas