These bear claw pastries are delicious. The dough mixes very easily (no kneading) and the filling for the pastry is equally as easy. The frustrating part is assembly. It is such a sticky dough, that it requires tons of flour on your counter and you have to wash your hands and utensils about every 30 seconds or so to make things work smoothly. Assembly is a little tricky and requires patience; if you can tolerate that annoyance, the final product is worth it. This recipe makes about a dozen nice size pastries, however the dough and filling will keep in the fridge for up to three days, so you do not have to bake them all at once.

1 cup butter
1 tablespoon of dry active yeast
¼ cup warm water
¼ cup white sugar
3 eggs yolks
½ teaspoon salt
(1) small (5 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
Melt the butter and let it cool down to 110 degrees (should only feel good and warm to the touch, not hot). Dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water. Mix these two liquids together and add ¼ cup sugar, egg yolks, salt, evaporated milk, and flour. Mix well and cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge at least 24 hours (or up to three days).

½ cup butter (room temperature)
1 + 1/3 cups unsifted powdered sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces (1 cup) almond paste
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 egg whites
¾ cup finely chopped almonds
Beat softened butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add 2/3 cup flour and almond paste. Beat with electric mixer until crumbly and evenly mixed; add lemon zest and two egg whites. Beat until smooth. Stir in ¾ cup finely chopped almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until firm (one to thee days).

Put a nice thick layer of flour on your counter and rolling pin (this dough is STICKY, but you can dust any excess flour off later, with a pastry brush). Roll the dough out to a 20” x 12” rectangle, keeping the edges as straight as possible. Cut the dough (length-wise) into three sections, each about 4” wide.

Flour your counter and hands and roll the almond filling into three 20” “ropes” (the diameter of your thumb). Keep washing your hands because the filling is sticky too! Lay one of the “ropes” in the center of each 20” dough strip and flatten it just a little. Fold the dough over the “rope”, matching the other (cut) edge. Cut each filled 20” strip into 4” pastries (brush excess flour off with a pastry brush) and lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut 3 slits in each pastry like this:

Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this stage, forgive the crude drawing

Flour your knife so it does not stick to the dough and wipe it off often). Use the tip of the knife to separate the “claws” a little. Lightly beat the remaining egg white and brush over the bear claws. top with sliced almonds and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let pastries raise for 45 minutes and then bake in preheated 375° oven for 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Makes about a dozen.

NOTE: I hope I have not scared you away from this recipe. It really is no harder than a simple piecrust, but I felt it only fair to warn you about the sticky dough.
NOTE: I put a simple glaze on some of the pastries and some I left plain. If you have trouble finding sanding sugar (it really adds a special shine and “finish” to baked goods), check Wal-Marts baking isle, near the sprinkles. They sell a Wiltons large grain transparent sprinkle that will work just as well.

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