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Cinnamon Date Pinwheels

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Cinnamon Date Pinwheels are a classic icebox cookie, with a walnut-studded cinnamon date filling wrapped up in brown sugar shortbread.

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My great-grandmother, Agnes Helgemo, came from Sweden at the tender age of 18 months. She and my great, great-grandparents ended up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where she spent the remainder of her life. My mother has fond memories of her fragrant kitchen. Agnes was quite proud of her cooking and baking and had several “signature” recipes, such as these Cinnamon Date Pinwheels. Icebox cookies seemed quite popular with my relatives, and this is a classic recipe made one day ahead, then sliced and baked.

Ingredients for Cinnamon Date Pinwheels:

The cookie base is a basic brown sugar shortbread with eggs, filled with a cooked date, cinnamon, vanilla, and walnut mixture.

The Process:

Cook the chopped dates in water and sugar until most of the liquid is absorbed and the dates are very soft.

Add the vanilla to the thickened date mixture.

Finish by stirring in crushed walnuts (or other nuts of your choice). Let this mixture cool completely while making the cookie dough.

Cream together the butter and brown sugar, then add the eggs followed by the dry ingredients.

Chill the dough thoroughly (at least an hour). Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll one into a rectangle about 1/4-inch thick on a well-floured surface.

Spread 1/4 of the cooled date mixture over the dough in an even layer, taking care not to puncture the dough with the nuts.

Starting at the bottom, carefully roll up the dough into a log.

Cover the rolled dough with plastic and refrigerate overnight to firm up completely. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling.

Once the dough has chilled, use a sharp knife to cut 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown.

Take care not to over-bake the Cinnamon Date Pinwheels, as you want them to have a soft texture.

Cinnamon Date Pinwheels are festive as part of a holiday spread and sturdy enough to pack into tins for gift-giving. These cookies also freeze well and thaw quickly for serving.

cinnamon date pinwheels on plate on holiday table

Cinnamon Date Pinwheels

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Cinnamon Date Pinwheels are a classic icebox cookie, with a walnut-studded cinnamon date filling wrapped up in brown sugar shortbread.


For the Filling:

  • cups chopped, pitted dates
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • cups water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts, or other nut of choice

For the Dough:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda


To Make the Filling:

  • Cook the dates, sugar, and water in a heavy saucepan over low heat until thick and soft.
  • Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and cook another minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the walnuts; cool completely

To Make the Dough:

  • In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until a smooth dough forms.
  • Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until well-chilled (at least 1 hour).
  • Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.
  • Roll one piece into a rectangle ¼-inch-thick on a well-floured surface.
  • Carefully spread ¼ of the date filling evenly over the dough, taking care not to puncture with the nuts.
  • Roll up the dough jelly-roll-style from the bottom. Wrap the dough log in plastic and chill overnight. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  • The next day, preheat the oven to 375°.
  • On a cutting board, unwrap each dough log and slice ¼-inch-thick into slices. Place the slices on parchment-lined baking sheets, allowing for space inbetween.
  • Bake for about 7 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely.
Course: Dessert, Fika, Holiday, Snack
Cuisine: Scandinavian, Swedish
Keyword: Cinnamon Date Pinwheels

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