Monday, December 20, 2010

Palmiers: Cookies Without Making the Dough

Yes, you read that right....

So, I was trying to post this all much earlier and then I spilled coffee all over my poor little computer and the bottom heating element burnt out on my stove. I pretty much took that as a sign that I needed to chill out a little and step away from the virtual work world of blogging and trying looking my family in the eyes for a couple days.

Now the computer has dried out and the oven is fixed and the babies are in bed....and I'm exhausted. Too tired, in fact to actually mix up some cookie dough.

Palmiers are a French classic. Sometimes they are called palm leafs, elephant ears or even glasses. They come in two basic shapes-the palm leaf or the butterfly. That all sounds intense, I'm sure; but they are super duper easy, keep well at room temperature (so don't worry if you are out of freezer space at this point), and tend to impress.

And, did I mention, you don't need to mix any dough? I think I did....
Instead, you need a box of puff pastry dough.
puff pastry, thawing
WAIT!!! DON'T RUN AWAY!! There is simply no reason to be intimidated by puff pastry dough. And most of the rules of puff pastry don't actually apply to this recipe anyways so take a deep breath and go to the nearest freezer section of your grocery store. You'll find it in the dessert section near the whipped cream and the cheater creme puffs.

When you are ready to make the cookies, pull the dough out of its packaging and lay it on some paper towel. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 and get out some cookie sheets. Line your sheets with parchment or silpats. You absolutely have to line the sheets for this because there is going to be some serious caramelization of sugar going on.

In fact, you only have 3 ingredients for this cookie:
puff pastry

as it thaws, you can open
it gently
Puff pastry dough comes in two tri-fold pieces. As the dough begins to thaw on the paper towels (which absorbs any condensation), you will gently begin to open the dough up into a triangle. DON'T FORCE IT OPEN OR IT WILL BREAK APART. Just rest the edges on itself so the air can get in and thaw it GENTLY.
....did I mention you should be gentle?

rectangle cut in two

rolled slightly to
form a rectangle

Once it is totally thawed but still cool, place the dough--which is a square in shape--on a lightly flour surface and roll just a little to make a rectangle and smooth down the fold lines. Don't try to roll it thin. Cut this rectangle in two, lengthwise. This means that you'll have four pieces of dough to work with.

covered with sugar
and water

Now, sprinkle some cold water across the surface to moisten it enough for the sugar to stick to it.

roll in from both sides

Next, it's time to roll up the dough. Instead of rolling it up in one big spiral, you want to roll it up from both long sides towards the center.

Try to roll it tightly

does this look like
a vertebrae to anyone

With a sharp knife, cut 3/4 inch slices. That probably looks small, and therefore, wrong to you. Trust me, they get bigger.

slices, slightly flattened

Place the slices on a cookie sheet with 3-4 inches between them and flatten them slightly with your hand.

pan on parchment on
cookies on parchment
on pan....this could be
a metaphor for something
if I think hard enough 

parchment to keep the pan
from sticking to the cookies
Cover the cookies with another sheet of parchment or silpat and put a second cookie sheet on top. Weird, huh? Do it anyways.

the first bake before flipping
they look soft and flimsy
don't worry, the sugar
will start to cook soon

Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. No, they aren't done yet. They need to be flipped over. Replace the cover and cookie sheet and bake again for about 4-5 minutes. Remove everything on top of the cookies and take a look. The sugar should be turning a golden to dark golden caramel color. If that isn't happening yet, return the cookies to the oven with out the cover sheet and bake for a few more minutes at a time. They can burn quickly so always set a timer and always keep an eye on them. Everyone's oven is different so if it takes a little longer, have no fear.

golden, crispy, classic

Look, it sounds like a lot of work but it's not like you had to make any dough, remember? (No free lunches.....)

Once you have removed the cookies, they will cool and harden pretty quickly. They should be crisp and caramely. Pack them in an airtight container-they will keep for a couple of weeks, actually.

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