Palmiers are a quintessential French cookie. Made with caramelized puff pastry, they are crispy and flaky. When you use store-bought puff pastry, you can prepare a batch in minutes.
But if you are looking for an authentic pastry shop–type version, you will find here my Quick Puff Pastry recipe. I encourage you to try it—you will realize that it’s not that hard to make your own. You will only need half of the batch for these palmiers, but you can keep the rest in the freezer and use it for any recipe in your repertoire that calls for puff pastry. The finished palmiers log can be frozen, uncooked, before slicing it into cookies.
Place the puff pastry at the center of a heavily sugared surface, and heavily sprinkle more sugar on top of the dough. Roll out the dough into a ⅛-inch-thick rectangle, continuously adding sugar underneath and on top of the dough while rolling.
Roll the two short edges of the dough toward the center by folding one side over ¼ inch, then doing the same thing on the other side of the rectangle. Continue folding the dough over itself one side at a time. The sides will become thicker as you continue to fold, reaching almost 1 inch on each side. Continue rolling until the two sides meet at the center of the dough, making sure to roll tightly. Fold one side over the other, like closing a book, then place the dough in the freezer for at least 45 minutes, or until it is completely chilled through. You can keep the dough frozen, well wrapped in plastic and stored in an airtight container, for up to 1 month.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the freezer and cut it into ⅓-inch-thick slices. Place the slices on the baking sheet and sprinkle their tops with a little more sugar. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper, then place a rectangular wire cooling rack on top of the parchment. This will prevent the cookies from puffing up too much.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cookies are a light golden brown color. Be careful: They will go from just the right color to burnt in no time, so keep an eye on them; check for doneness by lifting the edge of the cooling rack and parchment paper. The first time you make them, check the color after about 13 minutes. Once they begin to caramelize, it should only take about 2 more minutes for them to be golden brown. Remove from the oven, remove the cooling rack, and let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. Store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.
For Homemade Quick Puff Pastry (Optional)
Makes 2 pounds
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Beat on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes to combine. Add the butter and crème fraîche or sour cream, and continue beating on low speed. As everything starts to get incorporated, slowly drizzle the water into the bowl with the mixer running. Mix until the dough comes together in a ball.
Transfer the dough to your work surface and, with a sharp knife, slice a ½-inch-deep "X" in the top of the dough. This will help the dough relax. Cut the dough into two equal pieces, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
On a floured surface, working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out the dough into a 7-by-16-inch rectangle that is ½ inch thick. Use a ruler to measure and to push the dough back into a well-shaped rectangle. This will make your folds even. Arrange the dough with its long side parallel to the edge of the work surface. With a rolling pin, make a top-to-bottom impression in the center of the dough. Brush any excess flour from the surface of the dough (otherwise the dough will not stick to itself, and will create a seam). Fold each side of the dough toward the center, so that the ends almost meet at the crease; there should be a gap of about ¼ inch between the two ends. Brush off any excess flour again, and fold the left side of the dough over the right half, as if you were closing a book. (This process is called a "turn.") Place the dough on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the dough with the long side parallel to the edge of your floured work surface, and again roll out the dough into a 7-by-16-inch rectangle that is ½ inch thick. Make an impression in the center of the dough, and fold each side toward the center so that the ends almost meet at the crease. Brush off any excess flour again, and fold the left side of the dough over the right, as if you were closing a book. (This is the second turn.) Place the dough back on the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
If freezing the dough, do it now. It will keep, tightly wrapped, for up to a month in the freezer. To use, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator, then proceed with the third and final turn as follows. Repeat rolling and folding as above a third time. Refrigerate the dough, covered, for 30 minutes before using. It should be chilled, but the butter should not be too hard. Use as directed in the recipe.
Text excerpted from Payard Cookies, © 2015 by François Payard. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.