What is a Palmier?

H.R. Childress

A palmier is a type of pastry that is eaten for breakfast or dessert. They are also known as palm leaf cookies or elephant ear cookies, although elephant ears are more commonly associated with a type of fried dough dessert. Palmiers are made of puff pastry and baked.

A palmier is a type of pastry that some people think was first made in Vienna, Austria.
A palmier is a type of pastry that some people think was first made in Vienna, Austria.

Palmier is the French word for palm tree, and the pastry gets its name from its resemblance to a palm leaf. A Finnish version of these pastries is called kanapee. It is commonly thought that palmiers were invented in France around the beginning of the 20th century. Some maintain, however, that they were actually first made in Vienna, Austria. Although no one is certain where or how they originated, a common explanation of the development of palmiers is that they were modified from Middle Eastern desserts, such as baklava, which involve a similar baking method.

A traditional palmier is made by rolling puff pastry out very thinly and sprinkling it with sugar. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg may also be added. The pastry is then rolled up from both sides at once and sliced thin, forming the distinctive leaf-like shape. Baking the palmiers crisps the pastry and causes the sugar to caramelize, giving the cookies their crunchy texture and sweet flavor.

Coffee or tea is often served with palmiers. They are commonly served as a dessert or an afternoon refreshment. A palmier may also be eaten as a breakfast or snack food.

Although the traditional palmier is simply puff pastry with sugar and possibly spices, there are several variations. One such incarnation on sweet palmiers can be made by adding dark, milk, or white chocolate chips to the pastry before rolling it up. Alternatively, the chocolate can be melted and the cookies dipped in it after baking. Cream cheese, whipped cream, and finely chopped fruits are other filling possibilities for a sweet palmier.

It is also possible to make a variety of savory palmiers. Filling options include ingredients like various cheeses, herbs, and condiments, as well as garlic, sundried tomatoes, and pesto. Many combinations of the different fillings may also be used. Savory palmiers are filled, rolled, and baked in the same manner as their sweeter relatives. They are typically served as appetizers or side dishes rather than as a dessert.

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