"It is hard to describe how sublime homemade palmiers are," Jane Daniels Lear writes in this month's Gourmet. Even more than the tantalizing pictures, this sentence convinced me that I had to make these palmiers, and soon; if J.D.L. wasn't even going to try to render their tastiness in words, they had to be pretty good. Besides, I had been wanting to try my hand at puff pastry (ok, modified, easier, less time consuming puff pastry) for a while.
"Do you like a recipe that you have to get out the ruler for?" Andrew teased; yes, yes I do. I had a lot of work to do on Sunday, and I found that I enjoyed the rhythm of going back and forth between the work and the pastry: work for an hour, roll out dough, chill; pay bills and deal with paperwork for an hour, roll out dough, chill; make dinner for an hour, roll out dough, chill; it went by pretty quickly. I really am a pastry chef at heart. There were a few hairy moments with folding sticky dough, but thanks to my silicone mat and my pastry scraper everything came out fine.
It's extremely gratifying to see the crumbly flour-butter-salt-water that you worried wouldn't come together turn into a smooth (and strangely elastic?) sheet of dough. It's even more gratifying to peek into the oven and see that the unpromisingly skinny little dough slivers with which you populated a cookie sheet have puffed up into hearts, just as they should.
A school of palmiers, just out of the oven. This is the first batch, which got a little burned but still tasted mighty fine. I had gotten the hang of it by the second batch but had also lost my patience with food photography!
Here is the recipe. I didn't tweak it at all, and my only complaint is that it's not fun to grate frozen butter. (I wonder if you could put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and grate the frozen butter in with the grating attachment without spoiling the texture of the dough? It would definitely be faster, so more butter would be more frozen when it hit the flour, surely a good thing.) I'm pretty sure my puff pastry wasn't perfect, but it was fantastic nonetheless. These cookies have a wonderfully pure butter-cinnamon-caramel taste that is not overwhelmingly sweet. (Wondering whether my fondness for butter and cinnamon sugar could be more easily stoked, I made cinnamon toast with some of the leftover cinnamon sugar, half expecting it to be just about as good as the palmiers. Silly girl. No comparison at all.) A good chunk of the pleasure of eating them is their texture; something about their light crunch invites compulsive eating because you (ok, I) want to experience that firm flakiness over and over again.
I know this close-up is blurry, but seriously, imagine sinking your teeth into those layers. Homemade palmiers, you and I will meet again.
Even though I made these not for Christmas but for my own greedy self, I'm sharing them virtually witih Food Blogga for her amazing Christmas cookie roundup. They'd make a terrific addition to any Christmas cookie plate or package (and for some reason I am obsessed with the idea of serving them with ice cream...maybe a good holiday dessert for those of you in warm places). Thanks, Food Blogga!
Two other things I am excited about: the Wintermarket downtown (via wonderful Manhattan User's Guide). And TasteBook (via wonderful Heidi). I have been wanting to figure out how to organize all my recipes in an internet-accessible way, and TasteBook seems perfect, though I am worried there is something I'm not getting about it (am I going to be required to order a book at some point?). I got started last night. That is all.