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Making palmiers

(article, Kim Carlson)

Palmiers are crisp, buttery, and sweet — not to mention elegant. With their spiral heart shape, these French cookies look fancy, but they're really a cinch to make. 

Recently, Piper Davis, of Grand Central Bakery (in Seattle and Portland), taught us how to make palmiers (the name means "palm leaves" in French). Serve a batch of freshly baked palmiers with a dish of ripe berries and a dollop of whipped cream as a simple summer dessert.

[%image reference-image float=right width=350]Davis used Grand Central's premade puff pastry, but you could use whatever type you can find at your local supermarket; Pepperidge Farm is widely available. 

Or, if you're feeling ambitious, you can make your own puff pastry. A great resource is Martha Holmberg's new book Puff, which contains not only recipes for puff pastry itself but also dozens of other recipes that feature puff pastry (including, yes, palmiers; hers are made with confectioners' sugar). 

h3. Setting to work

block(clear). [%image one float='clear right' width=350]Prepare the workspace by tearing a 12-inch length of parchment paper. Next, lay the pastry on the parchment and cut an 8-inch length (so you're working with an 8-inch-by-12-inch sheet of pastry). Rewrap the remaining dough, and return it to the refrigerator or freezer for another use.

block(clear). [%image two float='clear right' width=350]Sprinkle about 1/4 cup sugar over the top of the puff pastry.

block(clear). [%image three float='clear right' width=350]Using a rolling pin, roll the sugar into the puff-pastry sheet. Pick it up, flip it over, and do the same on the new side, again with about 1/4 cup sugar. 

block(clear).  [%image four float='clear right' width=350]Arrange the sheet of pastry vertically, with the 8-inch side closest to you. Beginning at the bottom edge, fold over 2 inches of pastry once, then again. Repeat with the top edge so that both edges, doubly folded, meet in the middle, with a small gap in between.  

block(clear).  [%image five float='clear right' width=350]Gently compress the folded dough with a rolling pin. Brush one side with an egg wash, then fold the other side over, the folded edges atop one another like a book. (The egg wash binds the two sides together.)

block(clear). [%image six float='clear right' width=350]Again use the rolling pin to press the dough gently, then wrap the dough log in plastic wrap and chill it for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

block(clear). [%image seven float='clear right' width=350]After 20 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Score the roll every 1/4 inch . . .

block(clear). [%image eight float='clear right' width=350] . . . then slice it into cookies.

block(clear). [%image nine float='clear right' width=350]Place the cookies on the parchment-lined baking pan, leaving plenty of space between them (three across by four high).

block(clear). [%image ten float='clear right' width=350]Put the palmiers in the oven. 

block(clear). [%image eleven float='clear right' width=350]When the bottoms of the cookies begin to brown (at about 10 minutes), pull the baking sheet from oven and quickly flip the cookies, then return them to the oven for another 8 minutes or so . . .

block(clear). [%image twelve float='clear right' width=350] . . . until the tops caramelize. 

block(clear). [%image piper float='clear right' width=350]Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them cool before storing them in an airtight container. Merci,_ Piper!

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