Bear Claws

By Margi Lenga Kahn, Special to the Jewish Light

Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/3 cups powdered sugar

2/3 cup all purpose flour

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1 cup almond paste*

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

2 egg whites

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

Egg wash- 1 egg beaten lightly with 1 tsp. water

2 tbsp. currant jelly heated with 1/2 tbsp. water (jelly glaze)

Toasted sliced almonds, for sprinkling (optional)

1-17.3 ounce Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed**

Directions:

Combine butter and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl with your hands or a pastry blender. Add flour and almond paste and stir until crumbly.

With a mixer, beat in lemon zest and egg whites. Stir in almonds. Cover and chill until mixture hardens, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unfold 1 piece of dough and place it onto a lightly floured counter. Using a rolling pin, roll it just a little bit until it becomes rectanglar, long side facing you. Cut the dough in half, horizontally, each strip 4 inches wide. Brush each strip lightly with egg wash.

Divide the hardened almond filling into four portions and quickly form each portion into a 1-inch wide rope (you may have more filling than you need***), on a floured counter the length of each horizontal strip. Lay one filling rope down the center of each dough strip and flatten rope slightly by pushing on it with your hand.

Gently lift each long side of dough toward the center and press dough together to seal. Turn filled dough over so that seam is on the bottom.  Cut each filled strip into 3 equal pieces. Repeat with remaining piece of dough. Arrange the 12 pieces, seam-side down, on prepared pan. Somewhat flatten each piece by gently pushing on it with your hand. Using a scissors coated with flour, make four cuts, each 1/2 inch apart, halfway across each filled piece of dough. Fan pieces out so they resemble bear claws. Brush the top of each bear claw with egg wash and bake in preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer pastries to a cooling rack and immediately brush them with warm jelly glaze. Sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds, if desired. 

Makes 12 pastries.

*Almond paste can be found in cans or in tubes in the baking section at most grocery stores.

**Pepperidge Farm® makes Puff Pastry sheets that are both kosher and parve. They  can be found in the freezer case at most grocery stores.

*** Leftover filling can be used to fill pie-dough mini-tarts. Bake as directed.

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