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Cooking Tips from Allison Vencel - Week 12

As you know, four days after putting my Kimchi down in the cold cellar, it was time to put it in the fridge...this is what it looked like..


Honestly...I was a tad afraid to try it...something that had not been heat-processed, was it safe? What would it taste like? Undaunted, I speared a crispy piece of Napa cabbage leaf, and dug in. Not only did I not get sick....I'm hooked! The stuff is, quite simply, addictive! In fact, I'm going to go make me a small bowl to snack on while I write this post....be right back! Now, although I'm sure that this condiment will have some percussive side-effects, I cannot stop eating it! Going to have to make Korean barbecue now....just to have an excuse to eat more of it!

On to todays' subject. I had some beautiful natural almonds to use up, and although I could have simply snacked on their crunchy, healthy goodness, I was actually CRAVING the warm, almond-y buttery bear claws I remember from my youth. There was no way I was going to shell out ten bucks or more for a tiny tube of marzipan (almond paste)...so the solution was obvious. Make my own almond paste, then make bear claws with it! Click here for the bear claw recipe I used. Here are the humble beginnings...



Now, get the rest of your ingredients in order...



Lemon, yeast, butter, egg, cinnamon, salt, sugar, flour, milk, and brown sugar...then, the almonds....take about a half a cup of these beauties...



And blanch them in some boiling water for about two to three minutes...




Drain them in a colander & place on a clean kitchen towel...




I had always feared blanching almonds....never again! The skin of the nut just pops right off!



In the meantime, scald your milk, and add the butter, sugar and salt...



Now, place the yeast in the lukewarm water to bloom for a moment..



Add the egg, the milk mixture and half of the flour..



Mix to make a wet batter...then, incorporate the rest of the flour to make a stiff batter, and place in the fridge for two hours...




While it is chilling out, make your almond paste....buzz those blanched almonds with a little sugar and vanilla until it turns to a paste...




Easy, right? Now just combine with the butter, lemon rind, brown sugar and cinnamon...



I then microwaved this filling mixture for about a minute, just to make it soft...



Getting closer to bear claw tasty pastry time! Remove your dough from the fridge, and divide it in half.



Roll out onto a floured board, to approximately nine inches by eighteen inches. Don't get too scientific with it...note, I did not get out my ruler and measure this, and it still worked just fine!



Now, put dollops of your filling mixture evenly on top of your dough...


And, beginning from the bottom, fold up one third...like so...

Then, fold that top half down over the side you first folded up...



You get a kind of pastry burrito! Now, cut into approximately two-inch wide pieces..once again, if you are into extreme uniformity, go ahead and measure...I really am unconcerned about my little bear claws being all the same size...hey, nature has different-sized bears, right? :)


Now, cut those with small slices to make the "toes" of the bear claw, and place on a greased baking sheet...


They are sooooo cute! Now, beat an egg yolk with a little water, brush on the tops, and add some sliced almonds, and granulated sugar (optional).



Now, the torturous part...let them rise...for ANOTHER hour! I know, I know...but it will all be worth it on that first bite! Here are mine after that looooooong hour, and ready for the 400-degree oven...


Bake for approximately eight minutes...and watch closely, those little claws can burn on the bottom, at that high of a temperature....the results?



Un-BEAR-ably good! (you knew that was coming!) And, eating them warm, right out of the oven? Priceless, as the advertisement would say. 

What do you bake that takes you right back to childhood?

Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for more fun that will include the Korean barbecue meal, and a visit from those fine young ladies, the Kitchen Angels! Now, go bake something!

Love and kindness to all,

Pixie

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