A Simple French Treat
These buttery, sweet melt-in-your-mouth treats will take you to Paris without having to leave your home. Paired with a cup of hot tea or cafe au lait, these delicate simple luxuries will please adults and kids both. Needless to say, over this past weekend, my sweet tooth craving was more than satiated. Sweet dreams indeed!
Prior to my baking class at Sur La Table last month, my experience with palmiers was not pleasant. As my first memory was from a plastic bag that most likely sat on the shelf for months, the sticky, hard cookie was not worth the calories, money or effort. Thankfully, that is not what palmiers are supposed to taste like.
Emelia Hall, the Parisian Boulangerie instructor at Sur La Table, shared a list of French recipes that can be done at home, and one of them was sweet or savory palmiers (click here to see all of Sur La Table cooking class offerings).
Made with quick puff pastry (which can be made ahead of time, recipe is below), the process of making palmiers is very simple and requires few ingredients. Not sure I could successfully make them at home, I was thrilled to discover that while the chilling process takes time and patience, the actually skill needed is minimal. I couldn’t have been more pleased or delighted with out how they turned out. Have a look:
Palmiers (Sweet or Savory)
(French for their resemblance to palm frond. They are also called elephant ears or butterfly wings.)
- 1/2 recipe (18 oz) Quick Puff Pastry (see recipe below)
- 1 cup (7 oz) sugar, plus more if needed OR 1 cup filling of your choice - comté and Dijon are my choice (you can incorporate whatever filling you like in the middle of the palmiers before baking, layer honey, mustard, prosciutto, parmesan cheese, etc)
1. Generously dust your work surface with sugar. Place the dough in the center and sprinkle the top with one cup sugar (if making savory palmiers, add the savory ingredient just before you fold into the heart shape), covering it completely. Roll into a 16 by 10-inch rectangle, using additional sugar as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the surface.
2. Make a book fold (four layers). Using a ruler and the back of a knife, mark a line dividing the dough in half length-wise, each half measuring 8 x 10 inches. Using the ruler and knife again, mark each half into quarters. Fold the two short edges to the quarter mark and fold over again until you are 1/4 of an inch away from the center (do this on both sides). Tighten each side to leave 1/4 inch space down the center of the dough. Fold one side on top of the other, forming a 10-inch long cylinder.
If you look at the end of the cylinder, you’ll see the shape of a heart. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and position an over rack in the center. Place the remaining sugar in a small mixing bowl. Trim the ends of the cylinder if they are uneven or cracked, then cut twelve 1/4-inch thick slices from the chilled cylinder, dip each side in sugar, and place two inches apart on the baking sheet. (Any left over dough that is not going into the oven, rewrap and return to the refrigerator.)
4. Bake the cookies for 7-10 minutes, or until golden at the edges. With a spatula, flip each cookie over. Return to the over and bake for 9-12 minutes longer, until they are a beautiful golden brown. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
(The palmier recipe calls for half of this recipe; however, you can freeze the other half for up to 4-6 weeks for a variety of recipes.
- 4 1/2 sticks (18 oz) cold unsalted butter
- 3 cups (15 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3 oz) very cold water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1. Cut cold butter into 3/4 inch cubes. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer or a mixing bowl. Add the flour and salt, toss with your hands until the butter is coated. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Combine the water and vinegar and refrigerator for 20 minutes as well.
2. Fit the bowl with the butter onto the stand mixer with the paddle attachment or place butter and flour into a food processor. If using a stand mixer, place on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. If using a food processor, pulse until the butter is broken up into a variety of sizes but not too fine. In both instances, the largest size of broken butter bits should be 1/2 inch square – too big for pie dough, but perfect for quick puff pastry. Don’t overblend, as the butter will break into pieces two small to form the flaky layers you want in puff pastry.
3. With the mixer or food processor on low, slowly add the water-vinegar mixture, drizzling it in at different points around the bowl. In about 10 seconds, the dough will begin to come together in large chunks and feel slightly moist, but it will not look smooth or finished. Turn the dough and any dry bits at the bottom onto a work surface that has been dusted with flour (I used a pastry frame which is much less sticky and allows for easy clean-up – click here to buy).
4. Shape the dough into a rough rectangle about 6 by 8 inches and about 1-1/2 inches thick. Dust the top with flour and roll the dough into a 14 by 16 inch rectangle. Brush any flour from the surface of the dough.
5. Make a letter fold (3 total layers after folding – see my example below). Brush off any excess flour as you fold. It will look shaggy – this is completely acceptable and expected. Roll your pin across the top of the dough briefly and gently one or two times, just to fuse the dough. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, take out and roll out again to 14 x 16 inches and make the letter fold. Place back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
*You can do this entire process ahead of time and keep the dough in the fridge up to 48 hours.
*Will keep for two weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.