I think I tried palmiers from a bakery once a long time ago. Apparently, it was a terrible bakery, because I have never wanted to eat them since, let alone make them myself.
But this week, after the puff pastry post, I had a lot of it lying around in my fridge. I didn’t want to do a complicated recipe today, and so I thought maybe I should try making palmiers. Nothing could be simpler than palmiers. Traditional palmiers are just a sheet of puff pastry, coated in sugar, and rolled up so that they look like the capital of an ionic pillar. As they bake, the sugar caramelizes and the layers of dough puff up and get crisp.
But last time I tried them, I thought they were horrible.
Then I thought maybe it was just the bakery I bought them from, or maybe they were simply made with cheap puff pastry. That’s one of the things about cooking: Simple recipes are great, but only as great as the ingredients. If you use crappy ingredients, then the finished product will be crappy. And there’s no way around it.
So today, I gave them a try. I was right. The ones I had before must have been made with cheap, store-bought, non-butter puff pastry. Because the ones I made today were crisp, buttery, sweet, and exactly how they should have been before.
Normal—or I guess, traditional—palmiers are rolled up on two sides, but I wanted these to fit with other Christmas treats on a cookie plate, so I used half the dough you would normally use, and only rolled it from one side, so that is looks like a snail shell. I also added lemon zest to the sugar, which you can do as well, but it’s not necessary.
lemon palmier twirls
1 cup granulated sugar
zest of one lemon, removed with a microplane or a vegetable peeler
pinch kosher salt
1 pound puff pastry, but in half longways
1. Place sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the lemon zest is in tiny pieces, and the sugar is fragrant. Spread half of the sugar on a board and place the puff pastry sheet on top. Cover the pastry with more of the lemon sugar, and use a rolling pin to gently press the sugar in to the dough.
2. Start on the long sides of each half of the dough, and roll up tightly. Place the rolls in the freezer to firm up for about 30 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry into 1/2 inch slices. Rub the cut ends of each cookie in sugar mixture left on the board. Place on parchment paper lined baking sheets, and refrigerate.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while the cookies chill. When the oven comes to temperature, bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, and flip each cookie over with a spatula. Continue to bake for 10 minutes more, or until the edges are golden brown. Let cool completely in the pan.