Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers

Season: All | Active Time: 25 minutes (not including making the Rough Puff Pastry) | Total Time: 1 hour | Difficulty: 2 (Easy)

One of my favorite things about living in Paris during my time in culinary school was, not surprisingly, pâtisserie culture. Even the humblest bakeries manage to display a remarkably enticing selection of sweets in their storefronts, from huge clouds of meringue to glossy fruit tarts to flaky escargot pastries (Parisians really excel in the art of window dressing). What always got me were the palmiers, or elephant ears: giant double spirals of crispy, caramelized, bien cuit puff pastry that shatter into buttery shards with one bite. Palmiers are one of my favorite “cookies,” if you can call them that, and I make them frequently at home with leftover pie dough or puff pastry. Once you have the pastry, it’s a quick and easy recipe with lots of payoff.

Makes 16 palmiers

½ cup demerara sugar (3.5 oz / 100g)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Pinch of kosher salt

½ recipe Rough Puff Pastry (this page) or 1 recipe Flaky All-Butter Pie Dough (this page)

All-purpose flour, for rolling out

1 large egg, beaten

Make the cinnamon sugar: In a small bowl, toss together the demerara sugar, cinnamon, and salt to combine.

Roll out the pastry and dust with cinnamon sugar: Let the pastry sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften slightly.

Roll it out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, lifting and dusting with more flour as needed, into a rectangle measuring 12 × 10 inches and ¼ inch thick. Use a pastry brush to dust any excess flour off the top or underside of the dough.

Brush the entire surface with a thin layer of the beaten egg and then sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar over the top, pressing it gently into the surface of the pastry.

Roll up the pastry: Starting at one of the longer sides of the slab and using the parchment paper to help you, tightly roll the pastry into a spiral just until you reach the midline. Rotate the parchment paper 180 degrees and repeat from the other side of the pastry so you have two tight spirals of equal thickness that touch.

Firmly pinch the two sides together along the entire length of the pastry, compressing the spirals (the pastry will puff in the oven, causing the spirals to unwind a bit). Slide the pastry off the parchment, then brush the outsides of the pastry with more egg and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar, making sure every bit of surface is coated.

Freeze until firm: Wrap the piece of parchment paper you used for rolling out the pastry around the sugared log and again squeeze firmly up and down the length to help keep the two spirals together. Transfer the log to the freezer and chill until the pastry is very firm but not frozen solid, 20 to 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven and prepare the baking sheet: Arrange an oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Cut the palmiers and bake: Remove the pastry log from the freezer and place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to trim away the ragged ends of the pastry, making crosswise slices about ½ inch in from each end. Cut the log in half crosswise and then in half again to make four equal pieces, then slice each quarter into four equal pieces so you have 16 palmiers measuring between ½ and ¾ inch thick.

Transfer the palmiers to the prepared baking sheet cut-sides down, spacing them evenly, and bake until they are puffed and golden brown and the sugar has melted and caramelized into glassy puddles on the baking sheet, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.

The palmiers, stored airtight at room temperature, will keep up to 3 days.

① Use any warm spice such as cardamom or, less obviously, coriander in place of the cinnamon here. You can also massage any of the following ingredients into the ½ cup demerara sugar in the recipe to make a flavored sugar, and use that instead:

Vanilla: seeds scraped from ½ vanilla bean

Citrus: 1 teaspoon finely grated citrus zest

Lavender: ½ teaspoon very finely chopped culinary-grade dried lavender

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