And, I actually made 12 with sugar ~ and 6 very-low sugar (just about sugar-free), so you can make a variation with the same recipe if someone in your family is on a restricted sugar diet. (My tip for doing a combination with the same recipe, at the same time, is at the bottom of the recipe).
CHOCOLATE PECAN Yeast PASTRY TWISTS
Sugar or sugar-free
2 TB dry yeast (jar works best)……………….1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup warm water (about 20 seconds in microwave)
1/2 cup sugar ~or~ 2 TB real sugar plus 1/4 cup + 2 TB plain white Splenda
(NOTE: Even if you're making sugar-free version, use the 2 TB REAL sugar here b/c the yeast needs it to rise!)
1/4 cup (4 TB) butter, room temp……………. 2 eggs
1 cup milk, scalded (about 1 min. in microwave) ~ any type ~ I like unsweetened vanilla cashew or almond milk
5 cups all-purpose flour………………………..buttery non-stick cooking spray
1 cup packed brown sugar ~or~ 1/2 cup brown Splenda blend + 1/2 cup white Splenda
1/4 cup (4TB) butter, room temp…………….2 tsp. cinnamon
2 TB dark unsweetened cocoa powder……....1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz (about 1 cup) chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar ~or 3/4 cup plain white Splenda sifted w/ 1/4 cup cornstarch
2 TB milk (any type) ~or~ French Vanilla flavored liquid coffee creamer (sugar or SF)
1 TB butter melted…………………………….1 tsp. vanilla
CHEAT GLAZE at the bottom
TIP: Buy a child’s ruler at the dollar store and keep it with your rolling pin, to use exclusively when baking
Preheat oven to 350. (I put dough next to warm oven to rise) Generously spray a large bowl with the buttery non-stick spray and set aside. Put parchment paper on 2-3 large baking sheets and set aside.
Put the yeast and warm water in your electric mixer bowl (with dough hook attachment). briefly mix until blended. Add rest of dough ingredients (gradually adding flour). Mix on low speed for about 2 minutes (or until just combined), then increase the speed to medium and knead for about 5-7 minutes. (The dough should form a smooth ball and stick to the dough hook.)
Put the dough into the sprayed bowl, turn over (so it’s coated on all sides), cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise until doubled, about 45 min. to an hour.
While the dough rises prepare the filling and glaze.
FILLING: Whisk together all ingredients (except pecans) in a medium bowl, until it’s a smooth paste. Cover with plastic and set aside at room temperature.
GLAZE: Mix powdered sugar/Splenda, milk, butter, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl until smooth, but thick. Set aside at room temperature.
Once risen, punch the dough down & turn over onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to about 13-1/2”x27”. ** If you're a perfectionist, you'll have a beautiful rectangle that's exactly the right size. However, I'm NOT that person ... so just roll out your dough evenly so it's ABOUT 24-25"-ISH long and aim for 13" wide (but it will be wider ~ trust me!) .... Then, I'll add "real life" notes below too.
Spread prepared filling over the dough ~ then sprinkle evenly with pecans.
Fold 1/3 (4-1/2”) of the dough up from the bottom, over the filling (along the longest side). Then folding the remaining single-layer 1/3 (4-1/2”) at the top, back down over the already-folded part. (You should have a triple-layer rectangle 4-1/2”x18”.) Measure and notch into 18 equal parts (top & bottom) ~ then cut into 18 strips (easiest to do with a long, serrated bread knife, matching the notches top & bottom). You should have 18 strips that are 4-1/2”x1-1/2”. So, did you get all that? Really, just measure your dough rectangle (the short side) ~ divide that by about 3, and fold the bottom 1/3 up over the filling. Then fold the top 1/3 (with filling still showing) down over the folded part (so you have 3 layers of dough with filling between them). Measure 1-1/2" strips (I do that & mark with my long serrated knife ~ and then cut down through them. Should have about 18 of them, if your dough was about 27" long)
Twist each strip and put them on the prepared baking sheets about 2” apart. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise for 1 hour.
Bake the twists for 15-20 minutes (or until golden brown and firm to the touch). You should get 6 to a pan, and they fit best if you put them on at an angle.
Let cool for a few minutes minutes, and then transfer to a rack (over paper). Brush the glaze over the hot twists. Let cool about 10 minutes more before serving.
Now, if you want to make yourself a little crazy by doing both "with sugar" and "almost sugar-free" in the same batch..... follow my directions for the dough (making sure you use 2 TB of real sugar even in the sugar-free version). Then, for example, if you're going to make half of each ~ divide the filling recipe in half and make one with sugar and one without sugar. Spread them on the dough and follow the rest of the directions (just remember which half is which!)....
CHEAT GLAZE : Ok, so by this time, you're TIRED! Just grab a can of canned vanilla frosting (with sugar or sugar-free) and put about 2 big soup spoon-fuls into a little bowl. Whisk in milk ~ flavored liquid coffee creamer (Italian Sweet Cream, Creme Brulee, French Vanilla, Caramel are all good) ~ or even some brandy ~ until you get a nice smooth consistency (not too liquidy, but not too thick). Then just brush that over the slightly cooled twists.