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Christmas Tree Danish Pastries

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.
  • Total Time
    Prep: 1 hour Bake: 20 min. + cooling
  • Makes
    14 servings

Ingredients

  • 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 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ALMOND FILLING:
  • 4 ounces almond paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten
  • 14 green candied cherries, quartered
  • 14 red candied cherries, quartered
  • ICING:
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions

  • 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 9x6-in. rectangle. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
  • In a large 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 14x10-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 16x8-in. rectangle. Fold bottom third of rectangle up and top third down, as when folding a business letter, making a 5-1/2x8-in. rectangle (this is called one turn). Rotate dough a quarter turn to the right. Lightly roll into a 16x8-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; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • For almond filling, in a bowl, beat the almond paste, sugar and egg until smooth; set aside. Roll dough into a 22x7-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.
Nutrition Facts
1 each: 207 calories, 14g fat (8g saturated fat), 65mg cholesterol, 314mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (18g sugars, 0 fiber), 1g protein.

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