Palmiers are one of my favorite cookies to make. They’re easy, delicious and always a crowd pleaser. I sometimes make them with homemade puff pastry, but I often make them with store-bought pastry for a quick palmier fix. Using frozen, you can churn out these hard-to-resist treats in no time at all. I like to put my own twists on palmiers by adding ingredients like toffee and rainbow sprinkles, but one of the most impressive ways to up your palmier game is by turning them into Palmier Butterflies.
If you’re familiar with making palmiers, these are shaped in exactly the same way as their traditional relatives and I will walk you through the folding process in the recipe below. Once your log of dough is shaped, it should be cut into individual pieces that are twice as thick as you might use for classic palmiers. Holding the folded side up (and the solid side down), make a cut into the pastry as though you are going to divide it into two separate palmiers, but only cut 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through the pastry. Open up the “wings” that you just made with that cut and place, wing-side-down, on a baking sheet. They’re beautiful to look at even before they’ve baked!
When it comes to the size, you can be a little bit flexible. I’m giving approximate dimensions with this recipe, as homemade and packaged pastries will be in a variety of sizes. The important thing is that you get the technique of shaping the palmiers into butterflies, which can actually be done with any size pastry once you get the hang of it. A square pastry is the easiest to work with, but if you are working with a rectangular pastry, you’ll want to place the short ends on your left and right, and fold in the long sides. One pound of pastry is going to give you about 15 or so palmiers, depending on exactly how large you make them.
You’re probably not going to use all the sugar that I listed in the recipe, but when making palmiers, I always find it is better to have too much sugar on hand than not enough. Without the sugar, you’re just eating a plain (even if it’s tasty) pastry. I cover my work surface with a thin layer of sugar when I start to shape the pastries, that way I end up with palmiers that are perfectly caramelized, not ones that have too much flour on them.
These are at their best the day that are made, when the pastry is shatteringly crisp. Be sure to bake them until they are a deep golden brown color, as they take a few minutes longer than classic palmiers do to bake all the way through. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and should still be good for a couple of days after baking. They’re excellent on their own and delicious when served with coffee and/or ice cream.
How to Make Butterfly Palmiers
1 cup sugar
1-lb puff pastry (16-oz, or closest package size), refrigerated but not frozen
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cover a clean, flat work surface or cutting board with a thin layer of sugar. Place pastry on the sugar and roll out gently. Trim any hard or uneven edges. Roll pastry into a 12×12-inch square (or large rectangle) and sprinkle the top of the pastry with sugar.
Grab the top edge of the pastry and bring it down to the bottom to mark the center of the puff pastry, then unfold. Again, take the top edge of the pastry and fold it to the center line, then unfold. Repeat the process from the bottom. Sprinkle folded pastry with more sugar.
Take the top edge of the pastry and fold it down to the 1/4-mark you just made. Fold that portion again until it reaches the center line. Repeat this process from the bottom edge of the pastry. When both folds reach the center, bring them together to form a heart shape.
Using a knife, mark the dough in 3/4-inch increments all the way down the log, then cut through the marks to make individual pastries.
Holding the heart open-side-up, use a sharp knife to cut down the center of the pastry (as though you were going to make two individual palmiers), but only cut 3/4 of the way through the pastry. Carefully open the cut side of the pastry into “wings” and place, cut-side-down on your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly, if desired. Repeat with remaining pastry.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until butterflies are deep golden. Cool completely before storing.
Makes 15-16 butterflies (varies with size of pastry)