Sweet & Surprisingly Simple Recipe: Petite Palmiers

Elegant puff pastry palmiers are one of our all-time favorite cookies. So crispy! And buttery! Plus it feels so fancy to set them on a tray for a spot of afternoon tea. We'll tell you a little secret, too: they are super easy to make.

We use store-bought puff pastry to make our palmiers, and this is the secret to our success. We have a box or two of the dough in our freezer at all times. It's a simple matter of taking out a sheet, letting it thaw, and rolling it into palmiers for a quick afternoon treat.

If you're feeling adventurous and want to try your hand at making your own puff pastry, by all means go for it! Homemade puff pastry is labor intensive, but has better flavor and more puff than store-bought. Here are two great guides to making it yourself:

Shortcut Puff Pastry from Fine Cooking
Full Puff Pastry from White on Rice Couple

Palmiers are also a wonderfully versatile cookie. We make them with anything from a simple dusting of sugar to a spread of summer jam. Take a look at the variations after the recipe for more ideas.

Sweet and Simple Palmiers
Makes about 18 cookies

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
roughly 1/4 cup granulated, demerara, or brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Unwrap the puff pastry and lay it on a clean work surface. Cover to prevent the dough from drying out and let it thaw until completely pliable but still cool. It's very important that the dough be completely thawed before using. (You can see some cracked edges in some of my pictures because I rushed this step!)

Sprinkle the sugar over the dough in a single thick coating. Run a rolling pin over the pastry to press the sugar into the dough and help it adhere. Tightly roll both sides of the pastry inward so they meet in the middle. Wrap the rolled log in plastic wrap and refrigerate 20-30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Place a rack in the middle position.

Use a serrated knife to slice the roll into cookies roughly 1/3 - 1/2 inch thick. Arrange the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, allowing 2 inches of expansion room between each one. Flatten each cookie slightly using the bottom of a cup. Brush each cookie with melted butter and sprinkle a little more sugar over the tops.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container. Cookies will be less crispy but still delicious the next day.

Instead of (or in addition to!) simple sugar, try one of these variations:
Cinnamon and sugar
• Citrus zest and sugar
• A thin spread of jam
• Nutella
• Finely-shredded cheese (for a savory twist!)

Related: Melt in Your Mouth: 5 Nibbles with Puff Pastry

(Images: Emma Christensen)