Elephant Ears

     Some call these large, flat, crisp and cinnamony pastries Elephant Ears; others call them Crispies. Recipes vary – some start out with pie crust or puff pastry; ours begin with yeast dough. Even the final preparation can vary – from fried to baked (ours is baked). We like to eat them plain but they can be topped with fruit and ice cream, or even partially dipped in chocolate.
    And finally — are they a pastry or a cookie? References refer to them as either but we just call them “darn good”.  
    Came across this recipe years ago in a newspaper. Made them once when my parents were visiting and my mom said that she remembered eating them as a young girl. So, Erin and I decided to make a batch . . . without the dates (Barry, Mom and I like them but the rest of the family is not wild about dates).
    They went fast! We liked them SO much that we plan to make another batch.

Elephant Ears   Makes 1 dozen
2 to 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour – divided use
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar – divided use
½ teaspoon salt
1 (¼ oz.) pkg. active dry yeast or 1 scant tablespoon
½ cup water
¼ cup butter + 2 tablespoons, softened
1 egg, at room temperature
1 cup finely chopped pecans
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ cup chopped dates, optional
Pan spray or vegetable oil

1.  In large bowl, thoroughly mix ¾ cup flour, ¼ cup sugar, salt and undissolved yeast.
2.  Heat water and ¼ cup butter until very warm, 125° to 130° - butter does not need to melt.
3.  Gradually add liquid to dry ingredients; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and ¼ cup flour; beat at high speed 2 minutes; scraping bowl occasionally.
4.  With spoon, stir in enough additional flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes.
5.  Place dough in bowl that has been coated with cooking spray or vegetable oil, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
6.  In small bowl, combine remaining 1 cup sugar, the pecans and cinnamon; reserve.
7.  Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Roll dough to 12” square. Brush with 2 tablespoons softened butter, covering the entire surface area. Sprinkle dates, if using, and 1 cup of the sugar mixture on dough. Roll up tightly, as for jelly roll; seal edges and cut into 1” slices (we actually cut them a little thinner and ended up with 13).

8.  With a rolling pin, roll each slice to about a 4 ½” to 6” oblong shape, using remaining sugar mixture in place of flour on board; turn slices during rolling to coat both top and bottom with sugar mixture. (We used a liberal amount of the leftover sugar mixture and still had about 1/3+ cup leftover).
9.  Place “ears” on baking sheets that have been coated with pan spray or brushed lightly with oil. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
10. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown Cool pastries (cookies) on baking sheets 5 minutes; then remove to wire racks to cool completely.
We made a thin powdered sugar icing that we used for a dipping sauce.

Powdered Sugar Icing
For each cup of powdered sugar, stir in  about 1 teaspoon soft butter and about 1 tablespoon milk (add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency.

Click on Yeast Bread Baking Tips and AboutYeast  for links to additional information available on our blog.

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