Pastry How-To: Palmiers

photo 20A few weeks ago, the ladies of Winelandia got together to make some cookies. It’s true they’re cookies, but they’re also our favorite cookies, and an easy way to create something that will make someone in your life feel special. Palmiers are also called Elephant Ear cookies, among other names, and they’re made with puff pastry. While I did make my own puff pastry from scratch, you don’t have to in order to produce a successful palmier – just buy a batch of the good stuff from your local market. DuFour is the best brand I’ve tried from stores, but some local bakeries in the San Francisco area will also sell their own. I know Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg does, for example.

Puff pastry, whether you buy it or make it, will come in some kind of a rectangle shape, like this. I needed to measure mine to make sure what I was starting with was the right 9

Check out all these layers! This batch was made according to the great Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s specifications, and it has 7 turns, which results in 2187 total layers. It took about 5 hours to make.

photo 11

So anyway, you need to roll your sheet of puff pastry out to a very large, relatively thin piece of dough. Many recipes have specifications for how big, but honestly I think the thinner the better, by and large. I’d say somewhere around 1/8″ thick is perfect, which is how thick your pie crust should be if you’ve ever made pie. Before you begin rolling, spring your work surface with white sugar – maybe 1/4 cup. Then, lay your rectangle of dough down, and sprinkle the surface with another 1/4 cup of sugar. Once both sides are coated, you’ll roll the sugar into the dough, which will help it be incorporated into the cookie and caramelize with the butter in the dough. Try to keep the edges even.

photo 15

Once you’ve made a nice thin rectangle with sugar rolled into both sides, you’ll roll or fold the whole thing up from each side. I measured my dough and made a rough mark in the center so I knew where to stop. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and like I said, you can roll or fold it. Rolling will give you a rounder cookie, but you can start with maybe a 1/2″ flap and fold it inward toward the center, which will give you more of a heart-shape.

photo 17

When you finish rolling it together, wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour or so. You want it to firm up before baking.

photo 18

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

After an hour in the fridge, take your log out, unwrap it, and slice it into 1/4″-1/2″ slices. Puff pastry expands a great deal, so even if they look small and thin, you will be rewarded in the end.

photo 19

Lay the cookies out on a cookie sheet covered with parchment or with a silicone liner, leaving plenty of space between them for expansion. Slide the trays into the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and delicious looking. Cool them on a wire rack and enjoy!