Source: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two
I’ve had commercial palmier cookies before, and found them horrible. They were dry and mostly tasteless.
When leafing through Mastering the Art of French Cooking, looking at delicious-sounding tarts and desserts made with puff pastry, we eventually get to the palmier cookies. I initially passed right over it. But later I started reading the palmier recipe introduction.
As if she were reading my mind, Julia Child describes store-bought palmiers as a “disappointment”, even in France, but that homemade ones from your own puff pastry are “always delicious”. Since I had some scrap puff pastry from the blue cheese tart, there was nothing to loose (it was garbage otherwise).
I assembled my scrap puff pastry, trying (as much possible) to combine the dough scraps in a way that stacked and preserved the butter layers (although perfection is not critical). After chilling this reconstituted dough ball, it’s as simple as rolling out the rough in sugar (instead of the usual flour), making a 4-way fold (or some other creative fold), and cutting into slices. The cookie slices should be chilled for 30 minutes before baking, so they get blast with a wave of heat and really puff up nicely.
They only take 8-10 minutes to cook (I cooked them on convection bake), and halfway you sprinkle more sugar on the tops of the cookies and flip them, ensuring all sides have a nice even coating of caramelized sugar.
The results? Addictingly delicious. They’re crispy but still tender (not at all dry). The exterior has a delicious coating of caramelized sugar (think crème brulée). This caramelized layer along with the butter of the pastry provides plenty of flavour. We each devoured 5 (small) cookies within minutes! I’ll definitely be making these whenever I have leftover puff pastry… and I might even make puff pastry just for these palmier cookies!
(These would also be delicious with some cinnamon added to the sugar coating. This version is called an arlette cookie.)