File this under "things I've always wanted to make but thought I needed an excuse." Not that they're actually so hard, but let's face it -- nothing is easier than simple chocolate chip cookies, or my go-to dessert of late, chocolate pudding. It's just that the recipe is very specific, and one must strictly adhere to it, or else the resulting cookie will be dense and tough. But follow the instructions, and your afternoon tea date will thank you. These cookies are the height of elegance, with their flaky texture and caramelized-sugar crust. They're just the right amount sweet, and very crispy. They might be small and light, but I dare you to eat just one.
As you know, I'm always on the lookout for excuses to tackle culinary challenges. Bryce's PhD soiree gave me one such excuse, so thank you, Dr. J!
On another note, looking at the recipe just now, I realized that it essentially calls for an easy puff-pastry dough layered with cinnamon sugar. Now I've never made my own puff pastry, but I think this is a very user-friendly way to fake it -- so I'll be filing this under techniques; the next time I need puff pastry, I may just make this dough.
One word of caution: do NOT pull a Rivka and start an episode of Barefoot Contessa while your palmiers blacken in the oven, because they don't waste any time. The recipe says to bake for 7-9 minutes, flip, and bake 3-5 more minutes. I baked them for 7 and 4, and they came out black. The second roung, I did 7 and 3, and they were perfect: as you can see, there's a fine line between caramelized and burnt. Beware!
Last thing -- hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I'll be off until next week, as I'm traveling for the holiday, but I promise to post some healthy recipes to detox from T-day excess when I return.
Cinnamon Palmiers from Epicurious
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour * 1 teaspoon salt * 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen * 5 to 6 tablespoons ice water * 1 cup sugar * 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Stir together flour and salt in a chilled large metal bowl. Coarsely grate frozen butter into flour, gently tossing to coat butter.
Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over flour mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated. Test mixture by gently squeezing a small handful: When dough has the proper texture, it will hold together without crumbling apart. If necessary, add another tablespoon water, stirring until just incorporated, and test again. (Do not overwork dough or add too much water, or pastry will be tough; dough will be lumpy and streaky.)
Form dough into a 5-inch square, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 15- by 8-inch rectangle (with a short side nearest you). Brush off excess flour and fold dough into thirds like a letter. Rewrap dough and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Arrange dough with a short side nearest you on a floured surface and repeat rolling out, folding, and chilling 2 more times. Brush off any excess flour, then halve dough crosswise with a sharp knife and chill, wrapped separately in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
Stir together sugar and cinnamon, then generously sprinkle a clean work surface with some of cinnamon sugar and place 1 piece of chilled dough on top. Quickly roll out into a 16- by 12-inch rectangle (1/8 to 1/16 inch thick; if dough becomes too soft, chill on a baking sheet until firm). Trim edges with a sharp knife. Sprinkle top of dough evenly with some cinnamon sugar to cover completely, brushing off any excess. Fold 2 opposite long sides of pastry so they meet in center. Fold in same sides of pastry in same manner, then fold one half over the other (like a book) and press gently with a rolling pin to flatten slightly, forming a long rectangular log. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon sugar if dough is sticky.
Chill on a baking sheet, uncovered, until firm, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Meanwhile, repeat with remaining piece of dough and cinnamon sugar.
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut 1 log of dough crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices with a sharp knife and arrange slices, cut sides down, 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake until puffed and golden around edges, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and turn palmiers over with a spatula. (If palmiers begin to unroll, gently press to reshape when cooled slightly.) Continue baking until golden all over and sugar is caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer as done (palmiers may not bake evenly) to a rack and cool. Make more cookies on cooled baking sheet lined with fresh parchment.
Dough, without cinnamon sugar, can be chilled, wrapped well, up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month (thaw in refrigerator).
Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature 4 days.
If desired, palmiers can be recrisped in a 300°F oven until heated through, about 5 minutes.