Palmiers are elegant, delicious and surprisingly easy to make. Named in French for their resemblance to palm fronds, they are also known as elephant ears or butterfly wings. I made classic palmiers, and also cinnamon-flavoured ones, from one box of puff pastry.
I used the recipe from “The Art and Soul of Baking” for the first of three batches, but when I pulled the palmiers from the oven, they were too pale in colour, too thick and the flavour of the caramelized sugar had not infused the cookies. I was partly to blame of course as I hadn’t quite figured out the timing of the oven yet and I was overly afraid to burn these.
So I adapted the recipe using the picture-by-picture instructions from Joy the Baker’s baking blog for the next two batches. Sure enough, while the first batch was too pale and thick, the second was too dark and burnt, and the third was just right. Below you will find a simplified version of how to make palmiers based on my own error and trial. I hope your palmiers will turn out just right, too.
Makes about four dozen palmiers.
One box puff pastry (two rolls inside)
2 cups sugar
Spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, ground cardamom should you wish to spice up your palmiers
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place the oven rack in the centre.
Using about half a cup of sugar, dust your work surface. Place one roll of puff pastry atop the sugar. Make sure it is thawed, but cool to the touch.
Roll out the puff pastry until it is about 12 by 10 inches. Sprinkle more sugar all over the surface, until it is covered. When I made the cinnamon palmiers, this was the point at which I sprinkled the cinnamon atop the sugar.
Using a sharp knife, carefully mark a line dividing the dough in half vertically. Make sure you do not actually cut through the line.
Starting at one end, begin rolling from the outside toward the centre seam. Make it as tight as you possibly can. Now do the other side. Gently press the two sides together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour to an hour, until the roll is cold and firm.
Remove the cylinder from the fridge (one at a time, so that the other cylinder does not thaw while you are preparing your first batch) and then cut 1/4-inch thick slices from the chilled cylinder. Dip each side in the leftover sugar, being careful not to let the slices unravel, and place them two inches apart on a lined baking sheet.
Bake the cookies for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Do NOT pull them out before you see the edges browning. Using a spatula (or your fingers, like I did), turn them over and return the sheet back to the oven, baking another 9 to 12 minutes, until they are a beautiful caramelized golden brown. Keep a close eye on the palmiers as they can burn easily.
Now repeat with the other roll from the puff pastry box.
I can say that I took tips and ideas from several palmiers recipes until I came up with one that worked for my oven and my tastebuds. The key thing is that this recipe is so easy that you should feel free to experiment. I used cinnamon, but you can also make savoury palmiers with Parmesan cheese and smoked paprika, or fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil, or how about using vanilla sugar rather than regular granulated sugar?
Would I make this again?
I shouldn’t be admitting this, but every time I passed the plate of cookies, I ate one. They are that addictive. If you prefer to make a smaller batch of cookies in one go, you can also freeze the dough, double-wrap it and place in a freezer bag for up to six weeks. Before using the frozen dough, thaw it on the counter for about 15 minutes until it is still cold but soft enough to slice safely.
Eighteen stars out of five. No, really. I loved these buttery, flaky cookies and will make them a staple at my house. And at about $4-5 for ingredients that yielded more than four dozen delightfully delicious cookies, there is nothing to complain about.