For Valentine’s 2021, I thought it would be fun to highlight a few traditional and non traditional DIY’s. I am going to start with a food project that is referred to as French heart, in its native land. Palmier Cookies are my most favorite cookies and as some of my students would say, best cookies ever. They are crispy, flakey, caramel-ly (is there such a word?) and so freaking buttery I could eat them all day. Yes, technically I should not be eating them as they are made with wheat flour, but over holiday 2020, I took a little break from eating alkaline.
But I digress: what are Palmiers? Feuille de palmier or Coeur de France, which is palm tree leaf or French heart in English are better known in the US as Palmiers or elephant’s ears, were invented at the beginning of the 20th century in France.
Palmiers are made from puff pastry and sugar. Just two simple ingredients. Well, simple if you use store bought puff pastry. Making puff pastry from scratch is a process and takes forever. But if that is your jam, I say go for it.
While the recipe I am highlighting here is the classic version, slight variations are popular in other parts of the world including the Spanish version that’s often topped with coconut or chocolate and the Puerto Rican version that can be topped with honey.
So as you get ready to make these delights, I just have a few words of advice:
- You control the sweetness level. Puff pastry on its own has a neutral flavor profile, which is why it can be used for both sweet and savory dishes. So the sweetness of the Palmiers is dependent on how much sugar you use.
- I used vanilla sugar instead of regular granulated sugar. You can buy vanilla sugar or make it by adding the seeds from one vanilla bean to 1 cup of sugar. Mix well and then add the vanilla skin as well. Place in an airtight container for at least 24 hours, but longer is optimal, before using. I truly believe it elevated what is already a top notch treat. Consider adding cinnamon (1 tablespoon) or other preferred spices or cocoa powder (2 tablespoons) for a chocolate version to 1 cup sugar. If you do that just make sure you use plain granulated sugar to cover the bottom of the pastry and that the flavored sugar is only used between the folded layers. And use plain sugar to coat the cut slices before placing them on the baking sheet.
- Flip the cookies about 3/4’s of the way through baking. I like my cookies golden brown from top to bottom and the only way to achieve that is by flipping them.
- Position the oven rack in the top 3rd of the oven.
So how do you make these cookies. Check out the video above as well as the photo step by step tutorial below.
Ingredients and Equipment: puff pastry, sugar (as mentioned above, I used vanilla sugar), rolling pin.
Roll pastry into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle sugar all over the entire surface. All those black spots are vanilla beans. Then gently press the sugar into the pastry with a rolling pin.
Next, flip the pastry upside down.
Sprinkle more sugar onto this new surface and press the sugar into the pastry. Then fold the outer edges in as shown in the bottom right photo above.
Sprinkle sugar on the folded edges and press the sugar in.
Then repeat the process: fold edges in, sprinkle sugar, press it in etc.
Sprinkle more sugar and press it into the pastry.
Then make the final fold. The next step is optional but I highly recommend it. Roll the pastry in parchment paper or plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Putting the pastry in the fridge makes it easier to cut.
After 30 minutes, slice the pastry into 18 slices.
Take each cookie slice and cover the cut surface with sugar and then place it on a parchment paper covered cookie tray. Repeat for the rest of the cookies. On a standard home cookie sheet, you should fit 12 cookies. Cookies will expand as they bake so make sure to give them room to “grow”.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until the bottom has turned a light golden brown. Remove the cookies from the oven.
Turn the cookies upside down and return the tray to the oven and continue to bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until the top and bottom is a golden brown.
All done. Time to enjoy … I mean package in a nice box and tied with a big bow.
French Heart Cookies
- 1 cup sugar you can use regular granulated sugar or vanilla sugar instead
- 1 package Pepperidge Puff Pastry Sheets 2 sheets, thawed
- Unfold 1 pastry sheet. Roll out the dough to make a long rectangular shape.
- Sprinkle the pastry surface with sugar.
- Then gently press the sugar into the pastry with rolling pin. You are not rolling out the dough just pressing the sugar in so please do not put in a lot of pressure.
- Carefully turn the pastry upside down and sprinkle the new surface with sugar.
- Use the rolling pin to press the sugar into the pastry.
- Fold in the left and right edges, roughly 1.5” to 2” wide, so that they are pointing towards the center of the dough. Sprinkle more sugar over the folded section and press it in with a rolling pin.
- Repeat the folding, sprinkling and rolling until you bring both sides together. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.
- Repeat the first 7 steps with the remaining pastry sheet.
- Cut the first pastry roll crosswise into 18 slices.
- Dip the cut slices in the sugar before placing them on the baking sheet.
- Place the pastry slices cut-side down onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the pastries are light golden brown on the bottom.
- Remove the cookies from the oven, and flip them upside down and return the baking sheets to the oven.
- Continue to bake the cookies for another 3 to 6 minutes or until the cookies are a golden brown on top and bottom.
- Once done, place the cookies on a cooling rack and then enjoy!