Looking for a simple yet swank little nibble to serve at your New Year’s Eve party? Consider the palmier (say polm-YAY) — crisp, buttery, one-bite French pastries whose elegant look and flavor belie the ease with which they’re made.
They have just two components: puff pastry and a simple filling, rolled together and then sliced thin and baked. Fillings are often sweet — usually just sugar, with or without a flavoring — but they can swing savory as well, making use of assertive cheeses, spices, herbs, and seeds, as they do here. What lovely little bites to help ring in 2019.
Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper Palmiers
Makes about 2½ to 3 dozen
The measurements of different brands of puff pastry sheets differ. I used Trader Joe’s All Butter Puff Pastry, which measures 9½ inches by 12½ inches. Depending on what brand you use, you may have to trim, or piece together more than one sheet, to match those measurements. Or, if it’s easier for you, leave your sheets as is and adjust the filling amounts as necessary.
Regardless of brand, make sure your pastry is fully thawed but still cool (warm puff pastry can get sticky to handle) so you can unfold it initially, then roll it up with the fillings, without it cracking. Cracks could make your palmiers look funny or, worse, cause them to separate as they bake.
Note that the pastry rolls have to chill for an hour before you slice — a sharp serrated knife is best for this — and bake them.
Serve within a couple of hours of baking, or recrisp them with a 6- or 7-minute stay in a 350-degree oven.
1½ cups finely grated pecorino Romano
1½ teaspoons freshly, finely ground black pepper
Flour, for the work surface
1 sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed according to package directions
In a bowl, mix the pecorino and pepper and set aside. Place a parchment sheet on your work surface, flour it lightly, and unfold or unroll the puff pastry on it.
Cut the pastry sheet in half crosswise and, with your fingers, loosen the pieces a little from the parchment if necessary (this will make it easier to begin rolling them with the filling). Evenly sprinkle the two pastry sheets with the pecorino mixture, going all the way to the edges. Lay a piece of parchment over the cheese and gently press down to help it adhere.
Working with one sheet of the pastry at a time, gently yet tightly roll both short ends evenly until they meet the middle (resembling a double scroll), brushing away excess flour as you roll. Wet your finger and spread a little water along one of the rolled sides, where it will meet the other side, to help them adhere. Repeat with the second sheet. Transfer the rolls to a plate or small tray, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle position. Line two baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking mats. Remove the plastic from the logs and place them on a cutting board, rolled side down. Using a sharp serrated knife with a sawing motion, trim the ends if they’re uneven and cut each into ½-inch-thick slices. Arrange the pieces about 1 inch apart on the prepared sheets and bake until browned and crisp, about 16 to 18 minutes, reversing and rotating the baking sheets halfway through (do not overbrown the bottoms of the palmiers, or the cheese may taste bitter). Cool the palmiers on the baking sheets for about 3 minutes, transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature (they’ll crisp up as they cool), and serve.
TIP: Palmier Pointers
Everything Bagel Palmiers
Makes about 2½ to 3 dozen
You can replace the seed and seasoning mix here with the Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend I’ve seen at some Trader Joe’s locations. You’d need a scant ½ cup, or about 2 bottles.
Follow the recipe for the Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper Palmiers, making the following change:
Substitute 2 tablespoons each lightly toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and dried onion flakes, 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt for the pecorino Romano and black pepper.
Ham, Gruyere, and Sage Palmiers
Makes about 2½ dozen
Follow the recipe for the Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper Palmiers, making the following changes:
1) Substitute 1¼ cups finely grated aged gruyere and 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan for the pecorino Romano, and ¼ cup finely chopped fresh sage for the black pepper.
2) Modestly and evenly sprinkle the pastry sheets with kosher salt and ground black pepper before sprinkling on the cheese mixture.
3) Top the cheese mixture with 4 to 6 very thin slices (about 5 to 7 ounces total) good-quality deli baked ham, such as Black Forest, cutting the slices to fit without overlapping. Lay a piece of parchment over the ham, gently press down to help the fillings adhere, remove the parchment without disturbing the ham, and proceed with the recipe as directed.Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.