ALMOND BEAR CLAWS (sugar or sugar-free)
1 cup warm milk, any kind (I like unsweetened vanilla almond milk) ~ not too hot
1 tablespoon instant dry yeast……………….3 TB butter, room temp
2 TB white granulated sugar or regular white Splenda (not baking blend)
1 tsp. salt……………………………………….1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour………………………almond filling (recipe below)
Buttery non-stick spray or butter (to grease the bowl to rise dough in)
1/4 cup sliced almonds to sprinkle on top
FOR THE FILLING
1/2 cup butter (1 stick ~ 8 TB), room temperature
1-1/3 cup powdered sugar (~or~ 1 cup plain white Splenda sifted w/ 1/3 c. cornstarch)
7 ounces almond paste………………………..3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. almond extract……………………….2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg yolk (set aside & use egg white later)
FOR the GLAZE:
1 cup powdered sugar (~OR~ 2/3 cup regular white Splenda sifted with 1/3 cup cornstarch)
2 TB honey………………………….................2 TB milk (any kind)
FOR THE DOUGH
Combine warm milk, yeast, sugar/Splenda, salt, butter, and egg in the bowl of your electric mixer. Gradually add in the flour. Switch to dough hook and turn mixer on low.
When flour starts to blend together, increase speed to medium. Add more flour as needed so dough pulls away from sides of the bowl. (The dough mixture should be tacky and soft, but not stick to your hands.) Add more (if needed) flour until the dough feels right.
Grease or spray (I use buttery non-stick spray) a large mixing bowl and put the dough into the bowl (turning dough over so that all the dough gets greased). Cover with towel and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. (If your kitchen is cool, good places are on top of dishwasher or dryer while running, or on the counter next to the refrigerator.)
Meanwhile, make almond filling, and put into the refrigerator until ready to use.
FOR THE FILLING
Put all ingredients into your food processor and pulse ~ until almonds are finely chopped and the mixture comes together. Cover and chill until ready to use.
(1) To form bear claws, punch down dough and put onto floured surface (flour rolling pin too). **
(2) line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside
1. Roll dough out to about 16x20” rectangle. (Straighten edges with a ruler as you roll.)
2. Cut the rectangle lengthwise into 3 strips (5-1/3” wide).
3. Divide the almond paste mixture into 3 portions, and squish together with your hands into little logs. Put the logs next to each other, a little off-center, and all the way down the length of each dough strip. Flatten them.
4. Fold long sides of each strip over filling, overlapping.
5. Cut each filled strip into four (5”) pieces . Put about 4 pastries on each baking sheet.
6. With a sharp floured knife, make a row of cuts halfway across each segment and about 1/2” apart. (I made 4 cuts on each of mine ~ about halfway across each pastry.) Curve each bear claw so it fans out.
7. Preheat oven to 375.
8. Lightly beat remaining egg white and brush over bear claws, then top with sliced almonds. Cover lightly with dish towels and let rise for 20-40 minutes (until almost doubled in size ~ they'll feel "puffy" if you lightly touch with your fingers). I put the pans next to the oven while it’s preheating b/c it’s warm there.
Bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes or until medium golden brown. Transfer to wire rack to cool. TIP: I combined the pastries so there were 6 on a baking sheet to cool. And, I drizzled the glaze over the hot pastries, so it would melt and be translucent.
MAKE the GLAZE:
Whisk together all ingredients (adjust consistency by adding more powdered sugar or milk) ~ drizzle/brush over warm pastries. TIP: If you want a super-fast sugar or sugar-free glaze, whisk about 1 tsp. honey into 3-4 TB canned vanilla frosting (can be sugar-free), add a little almond milk, until it's a smooth drizzle consistency.
Makes about 1 dozen large bear claws