Chocolate Almond Braid

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Similar to an almond crescent, this braided pastry creation is  so light and flaky, but is filled with a rich chocolate and  almond center. It is so versatile you can serve it for dessert, breakfast or brunch. It will taste as if it was made from scratch at a bakery, yet the packaged puff pastry makes the recipe quick and easy for both the novice and experienced home cook.  Your friends and family will be amazed by this delightful treat.

Enjoy!

Serves 12
(Makes 2 braids-6 slices each)

Ingredients:
For the Almond Paste Filling:
One 7-ounce  package of  almond paste
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed
Two 3.5-ounce Ghirardelli Intense Dark Hazelnut Heaven Bars*
1 medium egg, for the egg wash

For the Glaze:
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds,divided, toasted

Directions:
Place the almond paste, butter and sugar in a food processor; cover and pulse until chopped. Add 1 egg and flour; process until smooth.

Unfold puff pastry sheets onto a parchment lined greased baking sheet.

Spread half of the almond filling mixture down the center third of one pastry sheet. Place the chocolate bar in the center, cut diagonal lines along the left and right side of the chocolate bar about an inch apart.Remove the corner pieces.

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Starting from the top, fold down the flap then alternate right and left until you are close to the bottom.

Fold the bottom flap up and finish alternating between right and left. Pinch ends to seal. Tuck any extra puff pastry underneath.

Repeat with remaining pastry and filling.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with almond slices.Bake at 415°F / 213°C for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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Remove to a wire rack.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk and almond extract. Drizzle over braids; sprinkle with additional almonds. Cut into slices and serve.

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*Cook’s Note:
Feel free to  use your favorite chocolate bar in this recipe.
You can also omit the almond paste filling, if desired.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor


Scallop Casino Pizza

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Inspired by the Clams Casino Pizza  commonly enjoyed through out the Northeastern United States, this version features a creamy  béchamel sauce made with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in this luxurious white pizza.

Serves 2
Ingredients:
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
for drizzling
1 1/2 cups light cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 Sheet puff pastry
4 slices thick-cut apple smoked bacon
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 small tomato, roughly chopped
5-6 ounces baby sea scallops
1/4 cup baby arugula

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium saucepan, cook the garlic in 1/4 cup of the olive oil over moderately low heat until it starts to sizzle, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the 1/4 cup of flour until smooth and cook, whisking, until light golden, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until the béchamel is smooth and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the cheese. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the béchamel to a small bowl. Discard the garlic.

Unfold the puff pastry sheet and lay out the sheet onto baking sheet.Prick the surface of pastry with a fork. Brush the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil all over the pastry and spread the béchamel evenly on top, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for about 15 minutes, until the pastry is almost cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a nonstick medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning, until golden and crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Roughly chop the bacon.

Top the pizza with cheese, tomatoes, the scallops and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 3 minutes, until the béchamel is golden and bubbling and the scallops are just opaque.

In a small bowl, toss the arugula with the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Top the pizza with the bacon and arugula, slice and serve hot.

 

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