Growing up, Christmas never seemed complete without Finnish Christmas stars (and Grandma’s sweet trail mix, but that’s for another post). These pastries are best when they come straight out of the oven, barely cool enough to consume. The warm, gooey center is a perfect match for the flaky, crackling puff pastry. A shower of powdered sugar tops everything off, creating a delicate and picturesque star for nibbling daintily.
Uhhh, right. I believe in eating these with abandon, devouring them so fast that plumes of powdered sugar and puffy pastry go every whichaway.
“Is that how a princess eats her Christmas cookies?” Matthew asked me after I had let the first batch cool for all of two seconds.
I nodded enthusiastically in response, my mouth too full of the buttery, sweet pastry to actually say anything.
“Well, you’ve got some in your hair there…”
That made me laugh, which made more of a mess, but that’s how good these things are! And can you guess what is actually in the center? PRUNES. Prune-lovers (me!) rejoice and prune-haters fear not because these pastries taste delicious. Try it. And they’re a snap to make. Want to see?
Years ago, my mom took a Finnish cooking class when my siblings and I were growing up and these pastries were the one recipe my mom wrote down and remembered. The woman instructing the class was a Finnish opera star (how cool!) who somehow ended up in suburban Georgia. My grandmother remembers her mother making Finnish Christmas stars, but with pie dough instead of puff pastry. Feel free to go with either, but we enjoy the puff pastry variety the most. If you manage to have leftovers (surprisingly, we also did — how Matthew managed to get me away from the rest of the batch is beyond my recollection), let the pastries cool down before placing them in a ziploc baggie. They’ll keep for a few days, and just pop one in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to warm up the center. Recipe is easily doubled or tripled.
Finnish Christmas Stars
makes 18 stars
1 box puff pastry, thawed
25 pitted prunes
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. To make filling, combine prunes with water, sugar and spices and in medium-sized pot, then simmer over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and mash prunes with fork or small masher. Click here to see consistency.
While mixture is heating, open up thawed pastry sheets and cut each sheet into nine squares (18 squares total). Make cuts from each corner of square, halfway to the middle. Create pinwheels by taking each corner of pastry and pressing it in the middle, repeating with each corner until a pinwheel forms. Place dollop of prune mixture on top of pinwheel (this makes for a prettier star). Alternatively, place dollop of mixture in middle of square and create pinwheel over filling.
Put stars on cookie sheets (will probably take two sheets) and put in oven for 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown. Cool on cookie rack and top with powdered sugar. Place in the hands of Christmas cookie-eating monsters and watch stars disappear instantly!