Monday, October 5, 2009

Palmiers


My introduction to the palmier was, to put it mildly, a less than stellar experience. I remember stopping by a mediocre bakery in Kansas, starving from a long flight. Unimpressed by anything I saw, I resigned myself to the dry-looking palmiers and thought "These things look impossible to screw up. This can't taste as bad as that Napolean looks." (In my defense, hunger and judgment are inversely proportionate for me: the hungrier I get, the more my judgment suffers until I'm ready to gnaw off my own arm). Not surprisingly, my palmier turned out to be exactly the heart-shaped wood chip it appeared to be: my first bite turned it into a flaky mess all over my new pants and left me frustrated and seriously considering my right arm.


In contrast, my first bite of a homemade palmier elicited nothing but "Mmmmm...ooooohh...wooooow..." and then rendered me speechless. Imagine thin layers of pastry dough and butter generously sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, then folded or rolled in a manner that layers the cinnamon and sugar with the dough, then baked until the layers of butter and dough have worked their puff pastry magic and the sugar has caramelized, leaving you with a delicate cookie that's just crunchy on the outside, yet oh-so-tender and buttery on the inside. I know I often speak in superlatives, but I really do think this is one of the best cookies I make. Do you need another reason to make these? How about this- they're one of the easiest things you will ever bake. I'm not kidding- they take no skill whatsoever. Simply sprinkle, roll, slice, and bake. That's it. I would usually argue that you should make your own puff pastry, but I'll step off my pedestal and spare you the homemade-is-always-better argument (even though it still holds very true in this case and is worth the extra effort). Frozen puff pastry works in a pinch. Still not convinced? Let your friends and coworkers try these. They'll dub you a culinary wunderkind.


Palmiers

Ingredients:
1-2 sheets of puff pastry, thawed
2 cups of cinnamon/sugar mixture


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle a flat surface (I used my frozen marble slab) with some of the sugar mixture and place the puff pastry on top. Roll the dough into a square (roughly 12"x12"), then sprinkle liberally with more sugar mixture.

2. Shape:

Method A (my preferred method):Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they touch, then repeat. Then, as if closing a book, fold one half over the other half.

Method B (the method I used this time): Roll both sides in toward center until they meet.

3. After shaping, slice cookies into 1/2" thick slices and dip both sides in remaining sugar mixture. Bake on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 8-9 minutes, flip, then bake 3 minutes more. These cookies are best eaten within a few hours of baking, but will keep for a couple of days in a tightly covered container.

4 comments:

  1. I saw the last picture and I asked myself, "Me?" I'm not quite sure what I meant but I think I was asking myself to please make some of that... for me.

    Why is method A your preferred method? I like method B. It creates a rather classical look.

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  2. B does look nice, but A is more traditional and actually hold together a bit better during baking.

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  3. They look wonderful, so nicely caramelized!

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