There is not a form of pre-made dough I do not consider a culinary godsend. My freezer is tiny, but you will never find it missing a single member of my holy trinity — phyllo, pie crust and puff pastry. They are the workhorses that can make breakfast treats and lunchtime hot pockets, and take dinner from appetizers to desserts. They make me feel like I'm truly baking, even on the days when I'm essentially thawing stuff out and sticking it in the oven. And of all the magical things that dough can do, there's no greater trick, to my mind, than palmiers.
Earlier this year, my younger daughter was going through a rough patch, and I offered to bake her any dessert she wished for. I braced for a challenge. After all, I make yeasted confections that take all day to put together. I make cookies based on Instagram-famous recipes. And yet, when pressed, my daughter asked for "those things with the sugar on them."
I spent days — days, I tell you — interrogating her for more details. Sugar cookies? Churros? Each time I was met with a shrug. Eventually, eureka, we figured out she meant palmiers. I guess it's not the most memorable name, not like Depression cake or gooey butter cake. But it is, however, the most shamelessly low effort dessert in creation.
Traditional palmiers are just puff pastry, generously covered in sugar, rolled up and then topped with even more sugar. I always make them from Ina Garten's recipe, and heed her heady advice that "this is not about sprinkling." They are excellent when dipped in chocolate ganache. But palmiers can also go brilliantly savory if you omit the sugar and fill them with pesto. Almost any food you can spread, you can palmier. Naturally, they are also sublime with Nutella, as most things in life are.
You could also just eat your Nutella straight out of the jar; who doesn't? But when you want to take it up just one notch, palmiers mean you get to have cookies without the trouble of making cookies. These are best eaten warm, but they're fine hanging around a little while stored at room temperature. And the next time someone you love asks you to make "those things," just assume they're talking about these.
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Makes approximately 12 cookies
- 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry
- 3/4 cup of Nutella, give or take
- Preheat the oven to 450° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out the puff pastry between two sheets of parchment paper until it's roughly 13" x 13". Don't stress about it.
- Spread the Nutella evenly over the pastry, stopping about 1/4" from the edges.
- Fold two parallel sides of the sheet halfway toward the middle. Flip them inward so the sides meet in the center. Fold over one side on top of the other.
- Slice the log into even pieces, about 3/4" thick. Place them on the sheet, giving them room to spread as they bake.
- Bake for five minutes, then flip them over and bake another five or so minutes. They should look golden and puffy. Remove from oven and enjoy.