Seven years old, sitting in the Radio Flyer wagon with my best friend, handle turned in and racing down the steep hill, middle of the road. Thrilling, fun, and scary. Fast forward 28 years. Parenting. I have not experienced the outer rim of sanity since I was seven years old and flirting with a traumatic brain injury, and here I am.
I was excited about converting this recipe for you. I’ve re-written and adapting old ones, knowing what I do about flavors and textures, aesthetics. For a week I’ve anticipated this day when I knew I’d have time to attempt these delicious and gourmet cookies. I’ve cheered and assigned duties (“you scoop sugar” and “can you crack that egg for me?”) and I’ve had those grandiose delusions of being Mom of the Year with baking time—and I succumb to this emotionally destructive roller coaster practically daily (the “oh yeah, THIS will secure the ‘Mom of the Year’ title!” delusion).
Everything was going well. Kids were having fun. And then they got bored and meandered off. The pinwheels were rising on the cookie sheet, covered with a tea towel. The most beautiful ones on the first sheet inspired my photographic creativity and I thought “THESE will be the ones for the pictures, for the blog!” My four year old decided to come join in again, and touches the edge of the cookie sheet which I had haphazardly shoved to the edge of the table…not the edge, just beyond the edge. His little hand hit the corner and flipped the cookie sheet into the air. Pinwheels indeed pinwheeled into the air, beautiful cream cheese pinwheels spinning in slow motion, crashing onto the floor.
My reaction was immediate—I drew a deep breath which was to be exhaled in some form of overdramatic disappointment, and on the exhale I looked down. A beautiful baby boy stood before me, his blonde hair sticking up in the back, his blue eyes welling up with tears, his lip quivering. I exhaled deeply. I wanted to scream about how he ruined them. I wanted to shout “OOOOOUUUUTTTT OF MOMMY’S KITCHEN!!!”
But what was my prayer just this morning, about the atmosphere in our home? Dear Lord help me! He stood there looking up, with teardrop-shaped eyes and a look of utter fear and disappointment on his cute little cheeks, his fingers clutching the brown neck strap of his CARS movie apron.
“Peanut, do you know you are more important to me than cookies?” The muscles in his face relaxed and he dropped his hands to his sides, making eye contact.
And you know what, the cookies taste better than they look. I was at a friend’s home last week to make Challah bread with her. She was kneading and looked up to tell me, “I always pray for the eater when I knead. My most important ingredient is love.”
So I could have had perfect pinwheels. The picture would have been beautiful, you might have forwarded the link on Facebook, and everyone would forget them two days later. But I would have not experienced the love of sharing cookie-baking time with my children. My son might not learn what a cup of something looks like, or what it means to whip the egg white. And I might have permanently damaged a hurt little boy who needed unconditional love in the face of his mistake.
So my cookies, this time, were made with love. I hope that you enjoy this recipe.
Dehydrating Orange Peel
Be very sure to by organic and/or local oranges if at all possible. If not, please wash them extremely well with a vegetable wash to get any type of residue off of the peel. Simply grate the peel, place it onto a paraflexx sheet, and approximately 12 hours later you will have dehydrated orange peel for your pantry!
I would put this recipe into an Intermediate category because of the number of steps and the various rise times. Also, these are not very sweet cookies and compliment a cup of tea very nicely! My husband thought that a few minor modifications would transform this into an appetizer recipe!
Oh, and make sure you don’t dangle your cookie sheets off the edge of the table!
Orange Cream Cheese Pinwheels
Makes 2 dozen
- 3 3/4 cups flour (soft white is best)
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbs yeast
- 1 ½ Tbs grated orange peel (less if dehydrated)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
- ¼- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbs lemon juice
- Chocolate Chips, optional, or…
- Apple Butter, optional
- 1 egg white
- 1 teaspoon water
- Powdered sugar, optional
Step 1: In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, orange peel and salt. In a saucepan, heat milk, butter and water just until the butter has melted, and then add it to the dry ingredients. Stir just until moistened. Whip the egg & egg white in a separate bowl for 2 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form soft dough. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a square and cut into smaller squares (approximately 3 inches).
Step 2: In a saucepan (re-use the original from step 1), warm/melt the filling ingredients, careful not to burn (or use the microwave for 15 seconds). To form pinwheels, diagonally cut dough from each corner to within 3/4 in. of the center. Then put the dime-sized dollop of filling into each one, placing a chocolate chip or two in there if desired. Fold every other point toward the center, overlapping pieces. Pinch to seal at the center. Place 3 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
Step 3: Grease cookie sheets. Beat egg white and water; brush over pinwheels. Sprinkle with sugar, extra orange peel, or leave plain. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans to cool on wire racks.