Technically, this is my second attempt to find my coworker Eileen a bear claw. Hannah’s Café was my first unsuccessful foray. But since then, I’ve made a more concerted effort to find it so I’m going to start numbering my attempts to track down an honest-to-goodness bear claw. Until Eileen pointed out how hard they were to find, I confess I’d never paid much attention to them. I like them well enough but they’re not my pastry of choice; that would be a pain au chocolat if I wanted to forego a protein breakfast and hang the calories.
A true bear claw is made from enriched dough like a brioche dough, is filled with almond paste, one long end is cut into the “claws” (Eileen insists that’s what makes them genuine bear claws), the top is garnished with sliced almonds to signal the almond paste filling and usually, though not always, drizzled with vanilla icing. I make a point of laying this out so you know what I’m looking for and why I consider my hunting attempts to be failures so far.
No longer trusting yelp reviews since that’s what led me astray to Hannah’s Café, this time I crowd sourced recommendations for bear claws from my neighborhood on Next Door. I easily got 5 recommendations and went with the one that got the most accolades: Copenhagen Crown Bakery.
I’ve been there before and written up the visit but at the time, I was involved with the burnt almond cake and had not paid much attention to the pastries. I had a 7 am meeting one morning but fortunately Copenhagen opened at 6 am so I was able to go before work and secure half a dozen: 1 for me to try and the rest for Eileen. They looked scrumptious and worthy of the recommendations from Next Door. They were also reasonably priced at $2.50 each and a perfect size, not too big but not too small either.
The pastry was flaky with just the right amount of buttery goodness tempered with the sweetness from the caramelized almonds. It was delicious. Unfortunately, it didn’t have any filling. At first I was puzzled. Did I just happen to get a bear claw that the bakery missed filling and baked “empty”? But in checking with Eileen and the box of 5 I had left her, it turns out they were all empty. So the lack of filling was deliberate. Ack. That didn’t make the pastry less delicious but, in my eyes, that disqualified it as a bear claw. Yes, the claws were there, yes the dough was the right dough, yes it had the almond topping. But a genuine bear claw pastry has almond paste filling and this didn’t. So the hunt continues.