Bearclaws are another one of my home classics made for Christmas, but for some reason I skipped them last few years. Which made me really sad, because I remember how much we all loved them and how much fun I always had making them. So I knew I had to bake them this year.

Which… of course needed some recipe searching. Similar to my mom’s honey cookies, I remember making them, I remember what the dough should look and taste like, but I wasn’t sure about the recipe. I had the cookbook it was written in, but you know how you have those recipes you make for years based on a recipe that you changed slightly. YOU know what changes were made to the original because YOU already know the recipe by heart, but for a newbie it can be impossible to figure out those tiny details that make all the difference to you.

Having a whole day to spend in my warm kitchen, with just my cat to keep me company, I knew it was a perfect opportunity to patiently try and figure out the recipe. And voila – here they are, just as I remember them. Baked in a decades-old tin cookie forms which I took from home. Because, what use would be the right recipe if they don’t look the same, right? The recipe is now written (and memorised by heart) and now you can make my mom’s bearclaws. Which you really should, I mean….they are the best!

Do you even know about bearclaws? They are crispy, but also somewhat cakey because they are baked in individual molds instead of beind rolled and cut out. Also, the dough is much softer than that of a regular cut-out cookies. And the flavour? Impossible to describe just how good they are, but let me try – vanilla sugar, honey, orange zest, walnuts. A real taste of home, winterish and oldfashioned cookie so wonderfully sweet and spicy, that melts in your mouth and leaves you wanting another one… and then another one… and then…

Bearclaws resemble madelaines with their shape, and feel free to use madelaine molds to fill them up. Use non-stick (they are now available, but I wanted to use our old ones) or prepare the molds by brushing them with some melted butter and tossing them with flour. My molds are tin. And old. Many years ago, after a disastrous batch of sticked cookies that wouldn’t come out of the molds, my mom had the most brilliant idea – to wrap the molds in aluminum foil. It works wonders, the cookies just slide right out and the best part – you don’t even need to clean the molds afterwards. Genious, I know! I never looked back and this is how I make my bearclaws from then on.

I wish you would try to make bearclaws and see for yourself how good they are as I am quite confident that this is the best recipe, so wait no longer, put your apron on because you are an hour away from tasting perfection!

preparation time: about 1 hour total
baking time:  10-15 minutes, 190°C (375 F)

Ingredients for the cookie dough:

200 g ground walnuts
390 g all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
225 g unsalted butter
120 g vanilla scented sugar*
2 Tbsp honey
1 whole egg, large
zest of a small orange (always use organic oranges for zesting and wash the skin nevertheless)
Icing sugar for dusting

*Make your own vanilla sugar or alternatively, scrape some vanilla bean seeds (of about half vanilla bean) in the mixture.

1. Start by preparing the walnuts. Pulse them in the food processor until they are mostly finely ground. Then combine them with the rest of  the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and salt and mix them all together shortly.

2. In a separate large bowl, combine soft butter and sugar and cream them together using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle or a whisk attachment. Beat until the mixture gains some volume and becomes light and frothy. Add honey, orange zest and a whole egg and mix until the egg is well incorporated in the mixture.

3. Then add dry ingredients and continue mixing, but on low speed. Paddle attachment works great, but you can still stick to the whisk attachment if that is what you have (I only have swirl and whisk attachments on my electric mixer). Just keep the speed on low or medium low. Alternatively, mix everything well with a spatula.

4. Once the mixture is ready, preheat the oven to 190°C/375 F and prepare the molds. If you haven’t got silicon bearclaws molds, brush them with some melted butter and dust with flour so the cookies wouldn’t stick. Or wrap them in aluminum foil like I do. Spoon the mixture into the molds so that they are about 3/4 filled with the dough and press the dough in gently to fill the molds well. Place the molds on a baking pan cookie dough facing up. Bake in a preheated oven for about 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of the molds. Mine baked for 12,5 minutes. They should be golden brown around the edges and should be able to pop right out of the molds if you try to detach them.

5. Let them cool in the molds shortly to firm up and then flip them out and dust in icing sugar. Enjoy with a glass of milk and spend a cozy evening!

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