I made them last night and let me tell you — they are fabulous! They are lightly sweet and fragrantly almond puff-pastry delights. Thank you, Solo!
Yield: approximately 48 twists
Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit
1 package (17-1/4 oz) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
1 can (8 oz) almond paste (Solo brand!)
Sugar for sprinkling
Sprinkle work surface with sugar. Unfold one sheet of pastry and lay flat on sugared surface. Roll out to 12-inch square.
Divide almond paste in half. Set half of almond paste aside and break remaining half into small pieces. Dot over half of pastry sheet. Fold pastry in half over almond paste and roll out to 10×12 inch rectangle. Sprinkle with sugar. Fold in half again and roll out to 10×12 inch rectangle.
Cut pastry in half to make two rectangles, each 5×12 inches. Cut each rectangle into strips (width-wise), one inch wide each. Twist strips into corkscrew shape and place on ungreased baking sheets about two inches apart. Sprinkle lightly with additional sugar, if desired.
Repeat with remaining pastry sheet and reserved almond paste.
Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from baking sheets immediately and cool completely on wire racks.
Now, that is the recipe as Solo has written it.
Because I am one who tends to rush ahead before I know where I’m going, I did not read the directions fully before I began — actually, not until I typed them in above! So there are a couple things that I did differently.
First, I didn’t use sugar to roll out the pastry, I used flour. I would definitely go with sugar next time, just because I think there may be some additional “sparkle” to be gained, but if you think there’s already enough sugar (which there is — my twists are delicious!), lightly flour your rolling surface.
Second, I had the oven at 350 rather than 375. I have a gas convection oven and they cooked in 20 minutes (two trays at once). It will be interesting to see what happens at the higher temperature. I have had problems in the past with puff pastry not cooking through fully on the underside yet threatening to become over brown on the upper side, so the slightly lower temp may have worked to my advantage here.
The third issue is not related to lack of reading ahead but rather to my execution — I sprinkled too much sugar on the pastry after the first fold. As a result, the two layers of pastry did not bind well together after rolling, though they did stay together well enough that I was able to make the twists without a problem. Perhaps the “extra” sugar I inadvertently added at this stage “made up” for that inadvertently deleted in the rolling-out stage.
And absolutely — remove the twists from the pan as soon as they come out of the oven. If you don’t, they will stick hard and fast. I didn’t have wire racks but used paper towels, making sure that the twists were all top down, with their bottoms in the air, so that the paper towel did not stick to the cooling sugar on those bottoms.
A recommendation I would make is that rather than cutting the finished pastry in half and then into strips, I would cut it into thirds, so that the finished twists are smaller. The recommended size is not too big necessarily, I just think they would be cuter if they were smaller.
Since I used one of my two sheets of puff pastry to make the ham, swiss & mushroom puff pastry quiche, I only had one to make the almond twists, which means that I still have half a can of almond paste in my fridge. I will be running out to buy more puff pastry so I can make some more of these babies and also try one of the other delicious-sounding variations on the twist theme recommended by Pepperidge Farm and others, such as the glazed apricot twists over at Epicurious.
I have a feeling that many of my friends and relatives will be getting a variety of these crispy little delights for Christmas this year.
UPDATE: Mmm-mmm! We made them again and learned new things!