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:
Sweet and Savory Palmiers
- 9 ounces unsalted butter cold/chilled
- 1 1/2 cups flour unbleached, all-purpose
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoons cold water more or less depending upon humidity in your kitchen/environment
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
Palmiers (sweet or savory)
- 1 recipe puff pastry (see above); note - puff pastry can be made 4-6 weeks in advance and kept in the freezer
- 1 cup sugar (sweet) or savory filling Savory filling options: Comté or Gruyère cheese and Dijon are my choices
- Add the flour, called butter and salt to the food processor. Pulse and combine until you see what looks similar to rough grains of sand.
- 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 – shop "kitchen" in TSLL Shop to find the one I recommend).
- 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 10 by 16 inch rectangle. Brush any flour from the surface of the dough.
- 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. OPTIONAL - for even more layers, but not necessary if you need to save time - 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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 (or bake for a total of 20 minutes, checking at 10 minutes, but with no need to flip - they will still look and taste delicious). Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
- OPTIONAL: Freeze any of the palmier dough and book folds before slicing if you don't need to bake them all at this time. I wrap mine in plastic wrap, label - savory or sweet), and place in the freezer for up to 6 months. When I know I will be baking them, I take them out 4-8 hours ahead of time by placing in the refrigerator (not leaving them on the counter as you want the dough to be chilled so that it puffs!). Then follow the instructions for baking as shared above. If you don't have any time to defrost in the refrigerator, slice gently (some pieces may fall apart - that is okay as they will bake back to together), then top with the cheese or sugar before placing in the oven for two-three additional minutes beyond 20 minutes.
*Will keep for two weeks in an airtight container at room temperature.