Post-Gazette.com

Bear Claws are yummy, whatever they're holding

August 5, 2004 12:00 AM
By Arlene Burnett Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pastries may be fattening, but they are also scrumptious, especially Bear Claws. We enjoyed every mouthful.

Steve Mellon, Post-Gazette
Bear claws can sweeten your morning.
Click photo for larger image.

Kitchen Mailbox received two requests. The first was from Alice Z. Crosby, of Hot Springs, Ariz., who requested one with an almond paste filling. A second came from Jennie Wolfe, of Warren, Pa., who wrote: "I am looking for a recipe for bear claws with a cream cheese filling. A local bakery used to have these tasty delights, but the bakery moved, and I have been searching ever since." Helen Lamison of Carnegie answered with a recipe for the dough and both fillings.

We made one batch of bear claws using the almond paste filling and another with the cream cheese. Both fillings got our vote.

The recipe calls for a sprinkling of sugar and chopped nuts, but we drizzled a confectioners' sugar icing over the claws, then topped them with chopped nuts. We used walnuts for the cream cheese filling and almonds for the almond paste filling.

A couple of tips: Making the dough the night before was a time saver. The directions say to bake the claws for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden. Ours were done after 8 minutes.

BEAR CLAWS

Chopped nuts and sugar, for garnish

Scald milk. Stir in sugar, salt and butter. Cool to lukewarm. Place the warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir until yeast is dissolved. Stir in the milk mixture, egg and half of the flour; beat until smooth. Stir in remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Cover tightly with wax paper or foil. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Divide dough in half. Roll out one half on a floured board into a 9-by-18-inch rectangle. Sprinkle half of the almond filling over the dough (or spread half cream cheese filling) over dough. Fold outside third of dough over center. Fold again to make a third layer. Pinch ends of dough to seal. Cut and divide into nine 2-inch sections. Make four 1/4-inch cuts through on an open side of each section. Place on greased baking sheets and shape into bear claw by separating the four cut sections.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Combine egg yolk with water and brush the tops of claws. If desired, sprinkle with some chopped nuts and additional sugar.

Let rise, uncovered, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden.

ALMOND PASTE FILLING

Melt

and simmer for about 2 minutes the butter and brown sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Cool slightly before using.

CREAM CHEESE FILLING

Beat

cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Stir in flour, egg yolk, lemon zest and juice.

Request

Joan Williams of Pinehurst, N.C., writes: "I am looking for an appetizer recipe using Saltine crackers. It is not a cookie, but has some type of cheese and spices and is crisp. It looks as though the crackers were placed on a cookie sheet and covered with a thin layer of cheese and maybe cayenne pepper, then baked."

Letter

"I just finished making two of the Milky Way cakes from your newspaper article from May 27. This brought many memories for me. Over 30 years I was the home economist for West Penn Power in Washington, Pa., and I became friends with the home economist for Columbia Gas. We have shared a friendship for years, and this was one of the first recipes we shared with each other."

Jan Piemme, South Park