I hate baking. No, let me correct that – I’m afraid of baking. All the exactness of it, the “don’t open the oven until it’s done!” stuff, the science of it. Ask me to make a last-minute Thanksgiving dinner for 12? No problem. Ask me to bake a cake? HIVES. But that all changed when I learned that Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa herself, was intimidated by baking too, or more specifically, making pastry dough. Then she discovered frozen puff pastry. And I did too. It’s easy, it’s timesaving, it’s inexpensive, and it’s just a great short cut to creating simple, homemade desserts. Most of all, Ina approves.
Here’s a simple but impressive recipe for Palmiers, sometimes called Elephant Ears or French Hearts. Why impressive? Because they’re French, fancy, and flaky. But shhh, so easy!
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry*, defrosted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Mix the salt with the sugar and pour half the mixture onto a counter or cutting board. Unfold the sheet of pastry dough onto the sugar and pour the rest of the sugar mixture on top, spreading it out evenly.
- Roll the dough into a 12”x12” square, rolling the sugar into the pastry. Idiot alert! If it’s your first time using a rolling pin, don’t get all excited and roll it out too large and thin (“Wooooo, I’m baking!”). You’ll burn whatever you’re doing because the bottom will be too thin.
- Now it’s time to fold and fear not – you’ll get it. Fold the two sides a quarter of the way inwards, then a quarter of the way inwards again so that they’ll meet in the middle. Then fold one half on top of the other, culminating in six layers, and you’ll now have a long vertical strip.
- Slice the dough into strips about ¼” thick and place strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure you leave about 2” in between slices so that they can spread while baking.
- Bake for 10 minutes until brown and caramelized on the bottom, then turn and bake for 3-4 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack and Voila! Fancy, French cookies you made all by yourself!
*Tip Any puff pastry will do, but if you can find Dufour Pastry Kitchens Classic Puff Pastry, I promise you, you will never use another kind again. It’s crazy good, and no one will ever believe it’s store-bought. I found it at Whole Foods and almost wish I hadn’t, ka-ching!