There is no reason even the most complex pastries can not be within reach of the every day cook, provided you know a few shortcuts.
Today I baked Bear Claws, one of my favorite pastries–yes, I have a lot of favorites–in about forty minutes. These are incredibly easy to make, assuming you have puff pastry sheets in your freezer. You do have puff pastry sheets in your freezer, don’t you? Well why the hell not? Look, puff pastry and philo dough are two things every freezer should have. You would not believe just how many easy, delicious dishes can be whipped out with either of those two ingredients. And you’ll look like a pro.
So here it is, thaw one puff pastry sheet on the counter for about half an hour while you make the filling. You can use jam, or left over struessel topping–I am assuming you have a secret stash of struessel topping in the freezer for emergencies? No? Sigh. There is just no helping some people. Very well, make some.
1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 3 Tbs flour, 2 Tbs softened butter, 1 tsp cinnamon. Mix with a fork until it resembles course crumbs. I usually make much larger batches, and freeze some in case of Coffee Cake Emergency.
For these Bear Claws, I also mixed in 1/2 cup home made almond paste. Don’t have almond paste? Neither did I. 1/2 cup blanched almonds, 1 Tbs sugar, 1 egg white, all in a food processor until chopped fine and forms a ball all on it’s own. Again, I doubled this batch and stashed some in the freezer. I plan on taking out some of that aforementioned philo dough to make some delicious almond samosas.
Now that your puff pastry dough is thawed, unfold it and cut into quarters, you should have four squares about four inches per side. Place 2 TBS of almond struessel in the center of each square, and fold over. Seal edges by pressing together gently. With a sharp knife, make cuts along edge 1/2″ apart. Brush with egg wash or milk(I hope you saved the egg yolk from making the almond paste, mix with 1 Tbs water for an egg wash). Decorate with almonds.
I assume that you are going to read through these instructions entirely before you begin, so you will know to have already preheated your oven to 375 degrees. Place your lovely little pastries on a baking sheet, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool, then drizzle with glaze.
There you go, a delicious, gourmet pastry in less than an hour, and most of that time was spent waiting impatiently for the timer to go off while it baked.
You have no excuse for not making these right now. Oh, you don’t have puff pastry sheets in your freezer? Don’t you feel silly!
EDIT: I should point out that as I sat down to write this post only minutes after baking these. And by the time this was published, I had eaten two. I would suggest thawing BOTH puff pastry sheets, making eight of these delicious little bastards. They will not last.