Last weekend a caterer friend of mine asked me to help her with a party. Her client was having a Christmas party for 100 of her closest friends and she wanted a French inspired menu. My friend was shorthanded and she needed me to make a light dessert. I needed some extra shopping money so I said, “Of course I know how to make French pastries!” Not really. However, I recently started researching French culture and cooking so this would be a good opportunity to practice what I’ve learned.
My friend just wanted something simple for dessert. I was limited on time (and skill) so I just referred to my Barefoot in Paris cookbook by Ina Garten. I bought this book years ago and have only made one dish from it. At the time I got the book I was not really interested in French cooking. I bought it becasue I am a fan of Ina’s cooking and writing style and I just added it to my collection of Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Because of my friend’s request, I have re-discovered Barefoot in Paris and it turns out that it’s a good safe place for me to start my French culinary experience.
Since I just needed to make a simple dessert, palmiers (aka elephant ears) seemed like the perfect choice. These cookies sound really fancy, but they are extremely easy to make. I just needed three ingredients: store-bought puff pastry, a little bit of salt and a lot of sugar. The mildly sweet and crisp cookies baked up rather quickly. They looked beautiful and tasted great. My friend was very pleased and she said the guests loved the cookies. Yay!
My sons think I’m the greastest “cooker” in the world and they were really impressed with Mommy’s fancy cookies. We snacked on a few and discovered that palmiers are really good with Nutella spread all over them. Yummy!
Palmiers, adapted from Barefoot in Paris
Makes about 3 1/2 cookies
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sheets store-bought puff pastry (such as Pepperidge Farm), defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix the sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Spread 1 cup of the sugar onto a work surface. Unfold one pastry sheet over the sugar and pour ½ cup of the remaining sugar on top. Spread the sugar evenly on the puff pastry.
Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 13 by 13-inch square, pressing the sugar into the pastry.
Fold the sides of the pastry towards the center halfway to the middle.
Fold the sides again so the two folds meet in the middle.
Lastly, fold one half of the dough over the other half like closing a book.
Repeat this process with the second puff pastry sheet. Wrap the dough logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Cut the dough into ¼-inch thick slices and place the cookies, cut side down on the prepared baking sheets.
Sprinkle any remaining sugar over the cookies and bake until they begin to caramelize and brown on the bottoms, 8 to 10 minutes.
Turn the cookies with a spatula and bake an additional 3 to 6 minutes, until caramelized and browned on the other side.
Cool the cookies for 3 minutes on wire racks. Transfer the cookies to the racks and cool completely.