Two Ingredients

February 17, 2009

I have lived in France twice for short periods of time. The first time was for three months on a bike, and the second was for a semester in Paris during my junior year of college. The first time I gained 15 pounds because I simply could not get over how delicious the pastries were (or the bread, or the cheese, or the chocolate, etc.) The second time I was much more careful and tried to stick only to the bread and a little cheese. Once in a while, I would allow myself a treat and there was never a question of what that would be.

I discovered Palmiers in a small town in Normandy about 1/3 of the way into the bike trip. I was 16, homesick, freezing and wet. The first month of our trip was spent in the Loire Valley and Normandy which, in case you are wondering, is not a good place to be biking in late March and early April. We got rained on, snowed on, and hailed on. We did not see the sun once during the entire month. We were sleeping in tents and biking all day. I only took comfort from my friend Jen, the hope of mail at the next homestay, and bakeries.

By this point in the trip, I had established my favorites in the boulangerie. Pain au chocolat was a given, brioche was always welcome when I wanted something more bread-like, a croissant when I wanted something less sweet. Seeing a Normandy is apple country in France, a whole new world of apple pastries opened up to me and I tried every one of them. One day, when I was feeling particularly homesick and wanting a cookie, I opted for a palmier. The charming butterfly shape disguised what a sophisticated treat this was. They are made from puff pastry so the layers upon layers of butter worked into the dough make each bite shatter under your teeth as you enjoy the flakiness of a croissant and the honey sweetness of lots of sugar. They became a true favorite of mine and I asked for them repeatedly during the rest of that bike trip (this contributed to the 15 pounds I gained, in spite of biking 1500 miles).

When I returned to France 3 years later, I asked for them in boulangeries all over Paris. I have gotten them for my boys here in Seattle whenever I see them. And I’ve made them a few times which I highly encourage you to do. You see, there are two ingredients in this recipe. Puff pastry and sugar. That’s it. Of course you can make your own puff pastry but why? Why when there is DuFour out there? Yes, it’s expensive (about $13 for 14 oz.), but when there are only two ingredients, you need to use the very best. I have no problem using Pepperidge Farm (about $4 for 14 oz.) when I am making something savory – when I know the flavor of the pastry is not the star. But if you are going to make these cookies, and you should, use the best. (Update: Thanks to two helpful comments, I can tell you that both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carry all-butter puff pastry for less than the DuFour. I will be sure to look for those!  Update #2: In the Seattle area, you can find terrific and reasonably priced puff at DeLaurenti and Grand Central Bakery.  Trader Joe’s seems to be seasonal and I have never found a Whole Foods brand.)


Adapted from The Martha Steward Living Cookbook – The New Classics
Makes about 20

The only real change I made here is an added step of coating each side of the palmiers in more sugar. Yum!

3/4 cup sugar, plus extra for dipping
14 oz. all butter Puff Pastry

1. Sprink half the sugar on a clean work surface. Place the dough on top, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining sugar.

2. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough into a 9 x 15-inch rectangle 1/8 inch thick, being careful not to press too hard around the edges. Continually coat both sides with sugar.

3. Place the dough so one of the long sides is closest to you. Using your fingers, roll the dough length-wise into a long cylinder, as tightly as possible without stretching it, as you would a roll of wrapping papers, stopping when you reach the middle. Repeat the same rolling procedure with the other long side until you have 2 tight cylinders that meet in the middle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator to chill at least 1 hour.

4. Unwrap the dough; using a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick slices. Dip each side of each slice into a shallow bowl of sugar. Place the palmiers on an ungreased baking sheet, and firmly flatten with the palm of your hand. Cover with platic wrap; place in the refrigerator 1 hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the palmiers in the oven and bake 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees; continue baking until the pastry is golden brown and well caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; using a thin spatula, immediately transfer the palmiers to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve shiny side up.


  1. i just made these the other day for a french friend living in california and they were fantastic! the first time i made them i used to make them with the pepperidge farm. this last time i made them with the artisan puff pastry from trader joes and it was 1000 times better. the puff pastry from trader joes is more like the dufour – pure butter. it’s about $5 in at the tj’s in dc, so much less expensive than the dufour. just thought i’d pass this along!

    Comment by christina — February 20, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  2. I’m afraid to think how much weight I would gain if I visited France for a month! Your palmiers look fantastic.

    I’ve found good, frozen, all butter, puff pastry at Whole Foods (their own brand), and it’s a little less expensive than DuFour.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — February 20, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  3. Christina and Lisa – thanks so much for the tips on TJ’s and Whole Foods! I updated the post with this helpful information. The last time I looked at Whole Foods they had a cheaper brand but it wasn’t all butter. I will ask them to carry it. Thanks again!

    Comment by Dana Treat — February 20, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  4. heavens! These are one of my favourite things! They are so easy but look like a million bucks – so elegantly curled.

    I like to add cinnamon sugar to mine!

    Nice blog.

    Comment by Hungry Gal — February 20, 2009 @ 5:38 pm

  5. Wonderful. I actuallymade a chcolate puff pastry for palmiers. Its was a lobor of love. Need to check out the commerical brands you recommended.

    Comment by glamah16 — February 20, 2009 @ 7:00 pm

  6. Its amazing what you can do with just two ingredients! These look so pretty!

    Comment by finsmom — February 20, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

  7. How gorgeous this looks! I love the pitures.

    Comment by veggie belly — February 20, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

  8. I’ve been dying to make these. They are so beautiful! I have a package from Trader Joe’s in the fridge…waiting for me!!

    Comment by The Food Librarian — February 20, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

  9. Cookies this delicious but only two ingredients?! How could one resist? Although it might be blasphemy to the French, I could see these going places: spices in the sugar, finely chopped nuts or dried fruits sprinkled before rolling, a light coating of orange glaze. I hope you don’t mind me stealing this recipe because I’ve suddenly become so inspired! :)

    Comment by Chris — February 21, 2009 @ 4:55 am

  10. I actually just did puff pastry from scratch at home and it was less difficult than I’d expected and puffed up just like the pictures online.

    If you’re a DIY kind of person, don’t fear the puff. Read a couple of tutorials online, follow the directions exactly, and give it a whirl. The ingredients are not expensive and you’ll only be out a couple of bucks if you fail.

    Comment by which_chick — February 24, 2009 @ 1:09 am

  11. I Love these, They always sell them in little Mexican bakeries. I never knew they were french. I can’t wait to go to France and try the real thing.

    Comment by Anonymous — February 27, 2009 @ 3:35 pm

  12. These look wonderful and so easy! Just found your website and it’s great!!!

    Comment by Ann — May 14, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

  13. […] la la! These Palmiers are tre […]

    Pingback by Palmiers | National Cookie Network — July 14, 2010 @ 3:35 am

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