Pear and Almond Cinnamon Buns

1/3 cup warm milk

2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)

Sprinkle yeast on milk, add a pinch of salt and let proof for 10 minutes

In a mixer bowl, put

3-1/2 cups flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1-1/2 tsp salt

Mix well and then add the yeast and 5 whole eggs

When all is blended, start adding

2 sticks (8 oz) of softened butter, 1 tbsps at a time.

Keep mixing for 8-10 minutes on mixer.

Then, remove and place in greased bowl and cover and let rise for 1-1/2 – 2 hours.

Frangipane:

In a food processor, put

3-1/2 oz blanched almonds

1/3 cup cinnamon sugar

Blend well until all almonds are ground. Then add

5 tbsps soft butter

1 egg yolk

Blend until all well mixed – set aside.

After dough has risen, turn out onto a floured table or board and roll into a large rectangle about 1/2″ thick

Spread frangipane all over dough

Lay sliced pears (from a 29 oz can of pear halves, that have been drained, dried and sliced thin) all over dough

Roll up dough – cut into 12 pieces

Put into buttered pans or in paper cups – cover and let rise for about 40 minutes

Bake at 350 for about 33-40 minutes or until browned and toothpick comes out clean. – Cool completely

Caramel Icing:

In a pot, melt 1/4 cup (2 oz) of butter

Add 1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream

Mix well and bring to boil – remove and let cool 5-6 minutes

Then add 1-1/2 cups of confectioners sugar and blend well.

Frost buns with the icing and then top with more chopped almonds

 

Finnish Christmas Stars (Joulutorttu)

2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter

8 oz ricotta

2 cups flour

Beat butter and ricotta together until well combined and soft.  Add the flour and beat till well blended.  Wrap and refrigerate about 2-3 hours.

Remove and roll 1/2 at a time about 1/8″ thick.  Cut into 3″ squares.

Place about 1 tsp raspberry jam*** on each cookie.

Using a small knife, make a slit at each corner and brush corners with egg wash.  Take every other corner and pull towards the center, pressing down after the fourth to seal well.  Brush entire cookie with egg wash.

 

Bake at 425 degrees for abut 10-12 minutes until set and golden. Remove and cool.  Dust with confectioners sugar just before serving.

Icelandic Christmas Cookies (Marengs Kornflexkokur)

Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside!

4 egg whites at room temperature

1 cup sugar

pinch cream of tartar

1-1/2 cups corn flakes

4 oz mini chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla

Beat the whites with a whisk attachment till soft peaks, then begin adding the sugar and beat till stiff peaks.

Add the vanilla and blend well.

Add the cornflakes and chips into the batter.

Scoop small mounds onto a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet.

Bake 300 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until set.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up 3 weeks (even longer sometimes!)

 

Chocolate Pistachio Toffee

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp water

1 tsp light corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

8 oz good quality semisweet chocolate

1 cup (+) of pistachios

In a heavy pot, put the butter, sugar and water.  Over medium-high heat, melt the butter.  When it is melted, add the syrup and salt.  Stir.  Add a candy thermometer.

Stir occasionally to keep well mixed.  When the temperature has reached 265 degrees, begin stirring constantly until it reaches 290 degrees.  When it reaches 290, pour immediately onto a silpat lined baking sheet (or a very well buttered sheet).  Spread out quickly.  Put on 8 oz of good quality semisweet chocolate and let sit 2 minutes.  Then, spread the melted chocolate over the entire toffee right up to the edges.  Immediately sprinkle on about 1 cup (or more if you wish) of pistachios.

Let set until completely cooled and then break into chunks.  Store in a well sealed container in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Or freeze for up to 3 months.