As much as I love a good romantic comedy (call it escapism from the sometimes harsh realities of adult life), I am not a particularly sappy person. I also grew up with a mother who strongly believes that food should not be played with. So this little corner of the web is never going to be the blog to feature heart-shaped sprinkles. But what I can get on board with are things that are naturally pink or heart-shaped, like these palmiers. Especially when it’s Valentine’s Day.
While palmiers are made with puff pastry, I always think of them as a type of cookie. A perfectly sweet and crunchy one thanks to the puff pastry being folded around a generous amount of sugar. And while I may be starting to sound like a broken record, palmiers are also one of those blank canvas things coming out of the kitchen that I love so much, i.e. a recipe that is easily adapted to suit your own tastes and therefore a recipe that immediately appeals to me.
Palmiers are dead easy to make, even more so if you already have some puff pastry to hand. Now you can use shop-bought puff pastry (and that is exactly what I did for the ones pictured), but if you do, try and get your hands on all butter puff pastry – the one made with vegetable fat always seems to leave a weird film in my mouth and doesn’t taste nearly as nice as the all butter ones.
Other than that, all you really need is some caster sugar and some spices for flavouring. I used garam masala for these ones because I continue to be obsessed with adding garam masala to all things sweet – further evidence here, here, here and here. But you can really use whatever you fancy: cinnamon or vanilla will obviously work, miso sugar would be great for that sweet and salty hit, grated tonka bean could be very delicious (maybe together with some finely chopped hazelnuts too), anise is an obvious choice, saffron could be glorious as well … in short, if you have a well-stocked spice shelf, the options are practically endless.
Garam Masala Palmiers
Notes: As I said above, this recipe is only really an idea. Palmiers are already delicious as they are, using your favourite spice or spice mixture will just give them that little extra. So feel free to experiment. And do report back if you come across any particularly great combinations. In terms of quantities, the idea here is to have a ration of around 3 parts puff pastry to 2 parts sugar by weight – less sugar would probably be healthier but would also make the palmiers less fun. So if your oven is still warm and you have some offcuts from making Tarte Tatins, why not just turn those into a handful of palmiers as well as a sort of cook’s treat?
Makes ca. 20-25 palmiers
210g puff pastry
140g caster sugar
2 tsp Garam Masala
Water for brushing
Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Mix the sugar with the garam masala in a bowl.
On a surface dusted very lightly with flour, roll the puff pastry out to a rough rectangle of about 3mm thickness. Brush off any excess flour.
Brush the surface of the puff pastry with water, then generously scatter the spiced sugar all over the pastry.
Mark a line in the middle along the length of the sheet of puff pastry. Carefully fold the puff pastry over itself a few times working towards that middle line (to get that typical heart shape, a folding action rather than rolling action is used here). Once you reach the middle, fold one half on top of the other. If you have any sugar left over scatter this over the surface where you rolled out the dough. Brush some water on the outside of the dough and carefully roll the dough in the sugar, pressing gently so that the sugar sticks to the dough.
Cover and place the roll in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm up.
With a sharp knife, cut slices ca. 1.5cm in width and place on the prepared sheet pan, leaving a couple of centimetres of space between the palmiers. When I was doing a pastry course at the Cordon Bleu school in London we were shown a little trick by one of the chefs to ensure the palmiers get their iconic shape: you slightly press the dough together at the bottom and then carefully separate the two spirals at the top just a little bit.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, flipping the palmiers once.
Leave to cool for a couple of minutes before carefully lifting the palmiers on a cookie rack to cool and harden.