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Finnish Christmas Tarts

2 cups (8 ounces) pitted prunes
water to cover
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped stiff
1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter

1 slightly beaten egg
2 tablespoons milk
Pearl sugar or crushed sugar cubes for garnish

Put the prunes into a small pan and cover with water. Simmer slowly
until very soft -- 15 to 20 minutes. Drain then puree; add the
lemon juice and sugar and enough of the cooking liquid if needed
to make a jamlike consistency.

For the pastry, mix the flour and baking powder. Stir into the
whipped cream until evenly blended then mix in the butter. Shape
dough into a ball and chill 1 hour or up to 3 days.

On a floured board, roll pastry out to make an 18-inch square. Fold
dough into thirds, folding first one third over the center, then
the opposite third over the center. Roll out to seal the layers.
Turn dough and fold again into thirds, making the dough into a
perfect square. Roll out, retaining the square shape, to 1/4 inch
thickness, adding flour if needed to prevent stickiness. Cut into
3-inch squares.

With a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, make cuts from the corners
to the centers of the squares, about 1-1/2 inches long. Place a
small spoonful of the prune filling onto the center of each square.
Brush edges with a glaze made of egg and milk. Shape into pinwheel
stars by lifting every other split corner toward the center onto
the filling. Pinch together.

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush tops of stars again with the
egg mixture. Decorate with pearl sugar. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes
or until puffy and lightly browned. Makes 36.


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