Palmiers are one of those pastries that you can make to impress people, though they are extremely easy to put together. They have just two ingredients: sugar and puff pastry (though, of course, puff pastry requires butter and flour). The finished cookies are so crispy that they almost melt in your mouth, leaving the delicious flavors of butter and caramelized sugar lingering on your tongue long after you took your last bite.
To infuse some flavor into these palmiers, I used vanilla sugar instead of regular sugar when putting them together. Vanilla sugar is simply sugar that has been infused with vanilla. You can easily make it at home by combining whole vanilla beans with sugar in an airtight container. There are also a few places you can buy it and Rodelle makes an excellent vanilla sugar that is infused with bourbon vanilla extract to give it a deep caramel color. In the case of the palmiers pictured above, I used the Rodelle vanilla sugar, however any vanilla sugar will work.
To make the pastries, you just need to roll out the dough and sprinkle it liberally with sugar, then fold it back up and slice it into individual pieces. Be very liberal with the sugar. The sugar not only gives these treats their color, but also their flavor and texture, so you don’t want to skimp. The cookies are best eaten as soon as they are baked and cooled, but will last for several days in an airtight container as long as it’s not to humid when you first bake them.
Vanilla Sugar Palmiers
1 cup vanilla sugar
1-lb puff pastry (16-oz, or closest package size)
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cover a cutting board or counter top with a layer of sugar, using abut 1/2 cup for 1-lb of puff pastry. Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar into a shallow bowl or baking dish.
Place room-temperature puff pastry onto the sugar-coated counter top and press down lightly to coat one side of it with the sugar.
Take a small knife and make a small notch in the edge of the pastry halfway down the short side. Again making small notches, mark each of the halves into thirds, essentially marking off the dough into six even pieces (if you can eyeball this part, feel free not to measure!). Do not cut anything more than a very small notch into the pastry.
Working with the long sides, fold over 1/6th of the pastry (one notch). Fold the same piece over again (from the second to the center notch), then fold the pastry together (folding along the center line). Press gently to ensure pastry sticks together well.
Use a sharp knife and divide pastry into 1/2-inch thick slices.
Place each piece cut-side-up in your sugar-filled bowl and press it down firmly with the palm of your hand to flatten into the sugar. Repeat with remaining side of the palmier. Transfer to baking sheet and repeat with all remaining slices of dough.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool completely before serving or storing.
Makes about 20.