Peanut butter pinwheels
This recipe was previously posted on The Roanoker.com in November 2011. Still a big holiday hit!
The holidays are my favorite time to cook. Not only does the food fill the house with comforting aromas, but it also conjures up memories of childhood Christmases.
I recently had the pleasure of experimenting with divinity candy for our sister publication Blue Ridge Country’s food column. According to the article, students of Ada Earnest’s home economics class at East Tennessee State College received the pure white and sugary treats as a special gift. I imagine the former students still reminisce about their teacher’s specialty.
Earnest’s recipe is titled “Never-Fail Divinity.” Unfortunately I failed twice. I’ll blame it on the humidity of my kitchen and a faulty candy thermometer. It was quite a challenge to get the candy to the perfect temperature and consistency, but after three batches, I ended up with more than a dozen pieces of divinity that I topped with pecan halves and candied cherries.
Making divinity reminded me of a less temperamental, yet equally sweet candy that is a staple among our Christmas goodies each year: peanut butter pinwheels. These easy-to-assemble swirls of sweetness consist of a dough made of confectioner’s sugar, cream cheese and milk – pure white like divinity – that’s rolled out like pie crust, filled with peanut butter, formed into logs and sliced to create the pinwheel shape.
Every time I take a bite, I’m taken back to my mom’s kitchen, the counter covered in confectioner’s sugar, and me and my brother stealing bites of any goodies within our reach. I just love the holidays!
Peanut Butter Pinwheels
- 3 oz cream cheese
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1tsp. vanilla flavoring
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
Mix first three ingredients with hands, adding the sugar in batches. Roll mixture into a rectangular shape. Divide it into two pieces. Spread a thin coat of peanut butter on top of each piece. Starting at the long side of rectangle, roll into a log. Chill for 1 hour, then cut the logs into about 1/2-inch thick pieces. Store wrapped in Saran wrap in the refrigerator.
Mrs. Earnest’s Never-Fail Divinity Candy
- 1⁄3 cup water
- 1 1⁄3 cups white sugar
- 1⁄3 cup white Karo syrup
- 1 egg white, stiffly beaten-
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts, coconut or candied cherries. Mrs. Earnest used green and red cherries at Christmastime. When she used nuts, it was usually pecans or black walnuts.
Cook together the water, sugar and Karo syrup until it spins a thread. (Some old candy thermometers have a marking for “Thread,” at around 230 degrees. The “thread” is a very thin, wispy filament that appears when you dip a spoonful of the mixture out of the pan.) Pour half the syrup over the stiffly beaten egg white, beating all the time. Cook the remaining syrup to the “crack” stage (300 degrees) when tested in cold water. Continue beating the first mixture while pouring the rest of the syrup into it. When it begins to hold its shape, add vanilla and nuts, coconut or cherries. Continue beating until it holds its shape well. If it should not hold its shape as desired, add a tablespoon of sifted powdered sugar, or 2 tablespoons, if needed. Drop from a teaspoon onto waxed paper. Store in an airtight box when it cools.