So cookies are important. And I might argue that cookies that can disguise themselves as pastries are even MORE important, because that means you can have them for breakfast. And with the holiday season well underway, I’ve been thinking a lot about cookies, and particularly about how I can increase my daily cookie intake. I stumbled across Bon Appetit‘s recipe for Spiced Palmiers: little heart-shaped, bite-sized puffs of pastry filled with spiced sugar, sliced thin, and baked. They puff out instead of up and are crispy, crunchy, flaky, little cookies that are also pastries. Perfect.
Their recipe sounded incredible and so I had to give it a try, but I wanted to mix it up just a little bit. I definitely love the cinnamon, the clove, and the cardamom that every surface effuses this time of year, but I thought it was missing one little thing. Orange! With the clove particularly, I wanted to invoke the scents of the orange-clove pomanders you see hanging in houses all over the place. So I forwent the allspice Bon Appetit called for and added orange zest instead. And of course, I couldn’t find their fancy frozen puff pastry dough so I went with what I could find, which turned out just as good. Here’s what you’ll need:
1 package frozen puff pastry (14oz.-18oz., Bon Appetit recommends Dufour, but I used Pepperidge Farm)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp orange zest (~ 1 whole orange)
3 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
1. Combine the sugar & orange zest in a plastic zip top bag and shake around to incorporate the zest into the sugar. Add the spices and shake again to combine. Pour into a small bowl. Prepare a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper while you’re at it.
2. Unfold (carefully!) thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. You want a rectangle about 10 inches across and at least 14 inches long. Longer is okay. My pastry came in two 10″ squares, so I just connected them into one long 10″ x 20″ rectangle. Work with what you got!
3. Brush about 1 Tbsp of your melted butter onto your pastry dough. Sprinkle evenly with about a quarter of your sugar spice mixture.
4. Now the fun part. Using a pastry cutter or knife, cut your pastry dough down the middle lengthwise. Fold each side into the center, so both sides meet.
You’ll end up with a very long strip of dough with all the sugar contained inside. Brush each of these long bits with butter and top evenly with spiced sugar again. Then fold in half lengthwise again, so you end up with two long dough-logs about an inch wide.
5. Move them to your baking sheet (mine were too long so I cut them in half), cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes. You could totally do this early and freeze it for up to two weeks and just thaw it in the fridge overnight before you’re ready to use it. Make an orange-clove pomander while you wait.
6. Preheat your oven to 425° F. Get some more parchment paper ready on another baking sheet and start cutting your logs crosswise into slices about 1/4″ thick. You should have tiny little “palmier”-shaped cookies! Arrange on your parchment paper’d baking sheet about an inch apart, since they’ll grow wider as they bake.
7. Bake about 5-7 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Remove the baking sheet and flip each one with a spatula. Brush some of the remaining butter (zap it in the microwave if it’s started to solidify again) over each cookie and sprinkle with more sugar spice. Bake again until sugar is bubblin’ and pastry is golden brown (8-10 minutes or more, depending on your oven) and delicious-looking. Let cool on a wire rack. I rolled mine in the sugar spice again before letting them cool so they’d be extra sparkly-looking.
That’s it! So few ingredients and store-bought puff pastry is a lifesaver. You can definitely make it on your own (the Barefoot Kitchen Witch gives a great step-by-step tutorial), but it’ll eat up your whole day and when I want a cookie I want it pretty soon, so I didn’t have the patience this time. But you can serve these to all your friends with coffee, with tea, with mulled wine, with whatever! They look great next to anything and everyone will think you’re so cool and talented because you made these fancy heart-shaped French pastry cookie things. And you don’t even have to tell them that it wasn’t hard.
And best of all, you can have them for breakfast. It’s a Christmas miracle!