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One thing that was constant in my childhood was really good food. Even when we had so very little it always tasted good. We know that foundation came from Grandma Bracken who raised and fed a large family mostly on her own. When my mom joined the Bracken Family she was welcomed into a family who loved food and as a result became a very very good cook. It became the foundation of my life.

Many of my mom and grandma's recipes made it into the kitchens of some of the best hotels in Southern California. Here's one that became a Christmas time staple at the Peninsula Beverly Hills.

Picture courtesy of


For the dough:

Sugar 4 cups

Brown Sugar 4 cups

Butter 4 cups

Eggs 12 ea

AP Flour 16 cups

Salt 1 tsp

Cinnamon 4 tbl

Baking Soda 4 tbl


Combine the sugars and butter together in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer on high for about 3-5 minutes until well creamed. Add in the eggs and mix until incorporated. Sift together the remaining ingredients and add slowly until well mixed. Remove and cool in the refrigerator. Once cool roll the dough out on a floured surface forming a rectangle that is evenly squared on the end and about .25 inch thick. Place in the refrigerator until cold. Once cool spread the date mixture evenly over the top of the dough and then roll the dough up into a tight cylinder. At this point you can store the dough in the refrigerator until ready to bake or you can freeze for later use.

When ready to bake, cut into about .5 inch slices and bake on parchment paper in a 375 degree oven until light golden brown, about 12 minutes.

For the filling:

Dates 4 lb chop fine no pits

Sugar 1 cup

Water 2 cup

Black Walnuts 4 cup chop fine


Cook over a medium heat until the mixture thickens. Cool to room temperature before rolling the cookies.


When searching for date pinwheels for a picture I was surprised to see how many recipes were out there. While I didn't compare any of them side by side one thing that certainly made grandmas stand out was the use of black walnuts and their unique flavor. If you have never tried them I highly recommend it, but be warned, they are not cheap.



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