I've been making these tender mini trees for nearly 40 years-and folks still keep asking for them! With almond filling, maraschino cherry "ornaments" and iced garlands, the flaky pastries taste as festive as they look.
VERIFIED BY Taste of Home Test Kitchen
- 4-3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 cup cold butter
- 3-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1-1/4 cups warm milk (110° to 115°)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ALMOND FILLING:
- 4 ounces almond paste
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk, beaten
- 14 green candied cherries, quartered
- 14 red candied cherries, quartered
- 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour on a work surface; place butter on surface and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon flour. Press and roll out with a rolling pin. Scrape butter from rolling pin and continue to work the butter until it forms a smooth mass without any hard lumps. Knead in 1/4 cup flour, working quickly to keep butter cold. Place butter mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a small rectangle. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap; roll into a 9-in. x 6-in. rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the egg, sugar and salt; beat until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Roll into a 14-in.x 10-in. rectangle, with the short side toward the bottom. Unwrap butter mixture; position on dough 1 in. above bottom edge and 1/2 in. from each side edge. Fold top half of dough over butter and pinch edges to seal.
- Turn dough a quarter turn to the right; sprinkle lightly with additional flour. Lightly roll into a 16-in. x 8-in. rectangle. Fold bottom third of rectangle up and top third down, as when folding a business letter, making a 5-1/2-in. x 8-in. rectangle (this is called one turn). Rotate dough a quarter turn to the right. Lightly roll into a 16-in. x 8-in. rectangle and again fold into thirds, finishing the second turn. Repeat rotating, rolling and folding two more times for a total of four turns. (If at any time the butter gets soft, refrigerate it for 10-15 minutes.) Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- For almond filling, in a mixing bowl, beat the almond paste, sugar and egg until smooth; set aside. Roll dough into a 22-in. x 7-in. rectangle. Cut lengthwise into fourteen 1/2-in. strips. Twist each dough strip, zigzagging dough on ungreased baking pans to form tree shape. Brush with egg yolk. Dot with almond filling. Decorate with candied cherries. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 20 minutes.
- Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks. In a bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, water and almond extract. Drizzle over pastries. Yield: 14 servings.
Originally published as Christmas Tree Danish Pastries in Country Woman Christmas Annual 2005, p19