Pretty much every bakery in Karachi sells Palmiers or French Hearts. They are one of those things that I can rarely resist picking up when I am back in Karachi, but am frequently disappointed by. The thing is they are just a little… boring you know?
In one of my recent nostalgic moods I pulled out a sheet of all butter puff pastry from my freezer and looked around for inspiration. It came quickly in the form of two lackluster oranges lying in my fruit bowl. Remember the citrus sugar I had made for beignets? I zested the oranges, rubbed the zest into some granulated sugar, added a teensy bit of salt and wow, these were really good. The orange zest brightens the flavor of these flaky petite puff pastry treats and transforms them into something extraordinary.
They’re also really pretty (if I do say so myself) and would make great hostess gifts or a very welcome addition to the usual smorgasbord of Christmas cookies.
Orange Sugar Palmiers
1 sheet all butter puff pastry
3/4 cup sugar
zest of one large orange or two small ones
1/8 tsp salt
Zest the orange(s) right into a bowl with the sugar and salt. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is a little moist and the zest has thoroughly perfumed the sugar. Yes, I just like saying zest over and over.
Spread half the sugar on a chopping board and place your sheet of puff pastry on top. Roll it out horizontally so that the sheet stretches by another inch or two and the sugar gets embedded on the underside of the sheet. Now sprinkle sugar over the top of the sheet so as to cover it (I had some left in the bowl).
Now quickly and firmly, fold and press the puff pastry sheet in half lengthwise like in the picture.
Gently press and then repeat so that it looks like this.
Freeze. Really, cutting it is so much faster when the puff pastry has had a chance to harden again. If yo tu don’t have time to throw it in for fifteen minutes then just be extra careful when you cut it.
Preheat the oven to 425, line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. When the oven has preheated pull out your puff pastry log and slice into pieces that are between 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Carefully pick and spread out the palmiers on to your baking sheet and put the ones your aren’t baking just yet back in the fridge. Bake for 4-6 minutes. I find they bake faster with parchment, slower with silpat so keep an eye on your first batch. Lift one at the edges to check and see if they are golden brown underneath at 4 minutes. Tops will be a little pasty looking.
Flip over and bake for another 3-4 minutes to golden perfection.
Okay so here is a quick cheat – if after the first 4-6 minutes your palmiers are spreading apart too much (not folded tight enough) then go ahead and gingerly press them together. The melting sugar will help them come together a little better.
When they have cooled a little move them to a wire rack to dry – if you want you can sprinkle them with more orange sugar at this point.
Enjoy with tea, coffee, or milk just like my kindergartner did 🙂