Palmiers (Elephant Ears)

Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord who shares his dead-easy palmiers cookie recipe with us. ~Elise

Sometimes I just want a quick cookie. Something simple, yet flashy, with very little work on my part. A quick rendezvous in the kitchen with near instant cookie gratification.

The answer to this cookie conundrum is the palmier, or elephant ear cookie. A simple French classic, and even though it’s French don’t let that scare you. Puff pastry and sugar. Bake. Done. Class dismissed.

This cookie, due to its simplicity, pairs well with many other desserts or after dinner espresso, coffee, and tea. Yet at the same time the simple addition of spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom or vanilla sugar can make this a very fragrant way to end a meal. The palmier can also be reworked into a great savory appetizer if you want; instead of using sugar and spices, replace the sugar with grated Parmesan and roll into it a very thin layer of pesto.

Palmiers (Elephant Ears) Recipe

Ingredients

  • Lots of granulated sugar
  • Puff pastry
  • Parchment Paper (aka baking paper) or a Silpat baking mat

Method

1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of sugar over your workstation. Roll out the puff pastry to about 10X12 inches. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of sugar (and spices if using) over the dough.

2 Roll up the left vertical side inward, stopping in the middle of the dough. Roll up the right side of the dough. The two rolls should be meeting at the middle and touching. Press the two sides together gently and let the dough chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Repeat with any more puff pastry you may have.

3 Starting at one end, cut off pieces of the log, in slices about 1/2 inch in thickness. Lightly sprinkle sugar onto each side. Pinch and press the sides of the two rolls together to ensure that they don't unroll during baking. Place on large parchment lined baking sheets, or a baking sheet lined with a Silpat. They will increase size dramatically, so leave plenty of room between each cookie and only bake a dozen at a time.

4 Set the tray in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the sugar has caramelized. Allow them to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Links:
Pesto palmiers from Confections of a Foodie Bride and Redacted Recipes
Honey, Pistachio and Rum Pamiers from Pro Bono Baker
Anchovy and olive palmiers from Gastronomy Domine
Prosciutto and honey mustard palmiers from The Passionate Cook
Chocolate and orange palmiers by Clotilde

36 Comments

  1. trish

    This sort of reminds me of what my mom used to do with leftover pie crust dough when she made a pie. She would roll it out into large cookie-sized pieces spread with oleo (our “house-spread” of choice – I didn’t grow up with real butter but I love it now =))…sprinkle with sugar and cinnmon and bake till crispy – us kids – including my Dad – couldn’t wait till it came out of the oven and cooled down enough to chomp into – she was a fine southern raised lady who made fine southern pie pastry…*sigh* sometimes I miss those days…anyway – it was yummy! I have a box of puff pastry in the freezer – this sounds lke Sunday breakfast.
    Thanks,
    Trish.

  2. grace

    Am I correct in assuming that these beauties are best right out of the oven and lose quality pretty quickly (even after a day)? I hope I’m wrong because I’m making the desserts for a wedding reception and I think these could be a great addition.

    Store them in an airtight container and you should get a few days out of them, like any cookie. I would suggest a test run for everything you plan to make far in advanced though for any sort of event, just to work out the kinks and see what works and what doesn’t. ~Garrett

  3. katy

    OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That’s how they make these?!?

    These were one of my absolute favorites when I was a kid — our french classes would have field trips to this little french bakery, and I would leave with bags of these!

  4. jonathan

    Simple and delicious.

    I love eating elephant ears, yet it makes me sad to think of all those hearing-impaired elephants running around just so us humans can get a cookie fix.

    Puff pastry tip: I drove 5 miles out of the way to get the Trader Joe’s brand, which is far superior (imo) to the more well-known stuff commonly found in your grocer’s freezer. You know, the brand with the word “Farm” on the box which uses vegetable fats instead of real butter. My absolute favorite, however, is this brand: http://www.dufourpastrykitchens.com/products-puff.php

    My grocer stopped carrying it though, due to lack of demand. Bad grocer…bad.

  5. Katie

    Um, I don’t really know what puff pastry is and in what state one can get it. Frozen? Can puff pastry be made if I can’t find it in stores? Shoot, this is one of the easier recipes I’ve seen, but I’m missing some important info.
    I call ‘em Schweineohren, too!

    Puff pastry is a light, flakey, unleavevened pastry containing many layers of fat. Made with flour, salt, water, an enough butter to kill a racehorse, it expands greatly when baked.

    You can find it in the frozen dessert section of any grocery store. And yes you can make it, but for something like this that’s supposed to be quick and easy, I suggest you just buy some as it’s not expensive. In a pinch, extra pie dough can be used for this recipe as well, though I am not sure what the baking time and temperature would be. ~Garrett

  6. Rose

    These look *dangerously* easy. Can you substitute phyllo dough for puff pastry? I have a box of that stuff in my freezer right now that I have no idea what to do with…

    Not sure if phyllo would work here. However, there is an excellent baklava recipe here on Simply Recipes that might be perfect for you. ~Garrett

  7. Patti Berent

    Sprinkle some ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg onto the puff pastry before rolling up along with the sugar and it’s delectable! So good with coffee, tea or lattes! Enjoy!

  8. Kim

    Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes!!!

    These are fabulous and oh-so easy. Its been awhile since I’ve made these. I used to even keep puff pastry in the freezer just to have on hand if I ever craved these.

    I will definitely try some of the savory recipes for palmiers. I’ve made my own puff pastry before… not hard, but somewhat time consuming and practice will make perfect.

  9. Rose

    Oh my. I know what I’m doing this weekend. Thank you, Garrett for pointing me to that baklava recipe. :)

  10. Scott

    I must be watching too much Travel Channel because from the headline, I thought this was going to be a recipe using actual elephant ears.

    They go well with panda-snaps and endagered condor burgers. ;) ~Garrett

  11. Whitney

    It is so funny that these cookies have so many names. It seems like they have them all over the world. My experience with them was from Mexican bakeries and we always called them “elephant ears”– I didn’t even really know we had them in the States (this could just be because in Mexico we were on vacation so we went to bakeries which we never did back home). I was pleasantly surprised to find small palmiers in the snack box at my office in Japan in single serving packs. The Japanese have a deep love affair for both French pastries and single serving snacks. I had no idea these were so easy to make. Thanks!

  12. EJ

    I’ve had these cookies a million times, and because they’re so delectable and delicate, I figured they’d never be something I could pull off. But when I saw an elise.com recipe — and one that looked so simple??? I made them the same day! They came out beautifully, so delicious, and perfect for entertaining. I made the sweet ones, but I can’t wait to try adding cheese, spices, etc., to really blow my own socks off.

  13. Harley

    I just made these, but I had a slight problem with one side browning a lot before the middle was cooked enough. I used parchment paper on a cookie sheet – should I maybe double up on the parchment paper, or is that how they are supposed to be?

    The edges will brown a bit before the center as with any baked good. It also could just simply be a quirk of your oven, the weather outside, or any number of factors including bad luck. Baking is a definite science where anything can affect the outcome. However, do not despair, a few of mine came out a little over brown, but they tasted delicious the same. ~Garrett

  14. wt

    I hope this isn’t a silly question, but do I need to defrost the puff pastry from the freezer prior to making these? And if so, how do I go about doing so? (She sheepishly asks…). Thanks for the great blog. Love your recipes!

    Read the package on thawing the puff pastry. Maybe about 40 minutes out of the freezer should do it though. ~Garrett

  15. gailey

    Oh my, I cant find any puff pastry in any of my local stores.

    From what I hear, pie dough can work as a decent substitute. Never tried it myself, so if you give it a go, I hope you’ll report back to us with your results! ~Garrett

  16. Cecilia

    Thanks, Garrett and Elise! I made these for dessert for my friends yesterday and they were a hit! So light, flaky and easy to make, too.

  17. Katie

    Garrett, last year I tried my hand at your adorable tuxedo strawberries. This year, pressed for Valentine’s Day prep time, I adapted your Palmiers- tried, true, and oh-so-easy. Sprinkle sugar, add another sprinkle of red sugar crystals, roll ‘em up like you said, squish into a contorted heart, and voila! The red sugar crystals make the rolled spiral bubbly pink and the hearts are subject to interpretation, but I’d call it cute, festive, and tasty. Thanks for having such a bake-genius friend, Elise!

  18. Serene

    These are absolutely delicious! I second the suggestion to use all-butter puff pastry (the one from Trader Joe’s is really affordable)- I’ve used this recipe several times with both the regular puff pastry you get from the grocery store and the all-butter kind, and there’s a definite difference. Richer and infinitely more flavorful. Soooo good!

  19. Joyce

    I tried phyllo instead of puff pastry. Didn’t work. Threw it out.

    Sorry the experiment didn’t work so well. However, phyllo is totally different from puff pastry – puff pastry has layers of butter that when baked boil and create steam pockets which raise the layers of dough. The heat at the same time cooks and hardens these various layers of dough which are separated by the layers of butter. Phyllo dough doesn’t have butter or leaveners of any kind. If you have leftover phyllo I suggest trying the baklava post, it’s easy and gives great results. ~Garrett

  20. karen van der merwe

    We have a Facebook group in South Africa called “what do we eat tonight” and 2 ladies tried to bake Palmiers with disastrous results; they say the sugar runs out and caramelized in the pan, a total flop! they used 3/4 cup sugar. How much sugar do you use on a roll of pastry? Any suggestions please? Thank you.

    Maybe about 1/2 cup is a good amount. I think I need a bit more information to answer your question though. ~Garrett

  21. Kathleen

    These sound so easy. About how many does one box of puff pastry make? I would like to make these for a holiday cookie exchange but I need to bring eight dozen cookies!

  22. Jack

    My aunt tried to teach me to make palmiers a couple years ago, and mine came out horrible every time, either black on the bottom and stuck to the pan, or underdone on top. Then this year she remembered to tell me to turn them over halfway (or a little more) through baking, and now they always come out perfect.

    My problem might have been that I was baking the palmiers directly on the tray, instead of on parchment. Could that have caused the bottoms to burn? Either way, my bad palmiers looked a lot like what the South African group described, so maybe they could try turning their cookies.

  23. S. Wong

    This recipe resulted in many compliments! I was looking for somethin easy to make for the office AND a french conversation group I belong too. Didn’t mind telling folks that it was “semi-homemade.” Even my diabetic mother took a few and found it to be not too sweet!

    NOTE: (1) Though the recipe says 1/4 c. of sugar, the puff pastry doesn’t “soak” it all up, internally/externally. (2) Don’t leave in a really cold fridge overnight. I did and the condensation that formed liquified the sugar into a syrupy mess. I used more sugar to give it the granular finish. (3) If your oven runs really hot like mine, I used 375F and flipped the palmiers over during the 8th minute and let it finish off for the remaining 2 mins. Nice golden color was achieved.

  24. Sara

    AWESOME! I was looking for something quick and yummy for dessert, using ingredients I had on hand. I used some cinnamon and nutmeg along with the sugar. These were so simple and by far the best “elephant ears” I’ve ever had. Actually, I have to admit, I’m not even a big fan of them in general (have only had them from a bakery when they are already hard and dry). I am a fan now!

  25. Dunja

    “Schweineohren” as we call them in my home country of Germany are my all time fave childhood treat. Eating them always conjures up the best images and memories of this sweet time way back when or so it seems. My children love, love, love them as well – we buy them at this little bakery at the farmers market. I picked up some pastry sheets today and the dough is now chilling in the fridge, I can’t wait to surprise my kids with this treat this afternoon, they’ll flip. Thanks!

  26. Anju

    Oh my god! These were amazing!! I made one batch of savory ears and another batch sweet. And both were fabulous. I now have to exercise extreme self-control and not eat all of them before my husband and son come home in the afternoon. I am so looking forward to showing off with these over Christmas when we have relatives visiting. Thank you!!

  27. Gordon

    I made a batch of Cheddar Black Pepper Palmiers just a few minutes ago – Oh Wow!!! It’s like the best potato chip you’ve ever eaten – only ten times better!! Hooked – for sure hooked :)

  28. Abi

    I am hoping to make these as gifts for christmas, could anybody tell me how long they will last/best way to store them?

    Thanks.

    These are best made the day of. They’ll last a week in an airtight container. ~Garrett

  29. Leslie

    Thank you for the recipe to one of my favorite cookies! I made these last night with vanilla sugar, and sprinkled toasted poppy seeds on some of them (sprinkling on the dough before rolling up, and then on top of the cookies right before baking as well). Yummm.

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