Food & dining

Recipe: French palmiers are dressed up for the holidays with gingerbread spices

Gingerbread-spiced palmiers
Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe
Gingerbread-spiced palmiers

Makes about 3 dozen

Sugar mixed with gingerbread spices gives these buttery, crisp confections — palm leaf-shaped French pastries called palmiers — a wintery feel. Begin with frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package instructions. It’s available in varying sizes and weights; buy what you can find in a package that is around 16 ounces. Roll out the dough in a spicy, sugary mixture, then roll each long side into the center to form the palmiers; you’ll see why they’re also called elephant ears.

1cup sugar
1tablespoon ground cinnamon
2teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoons ground cloves
½teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1package (about 16 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed

1. In a bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside 4 tablespoons of the sugar mixture for the cooked palmiers.

2. Spread half the remaining sugar mixture on a work surface. Unfold the dough. If you have 2 pieces of dough, you can overlap them slightly and press the edges together to make 1 long rectangle. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the remaining sugar. Roll the dough into a rectangle that is about 12 inches wide. The length will vary; it doesn’t have to be exact.

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3. With the tip of a knife, mark the midpoint (score it lightly) on the dough. Roll both long sides in until they meet at the midpoint. Turn the log over so the rolled pieces are on the bottom. Place the log on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until firm.

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4. Set the oven at 450 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. With a sharp knife or a bench scraper, cut the log into ½-inch slices. Lay them cut sides down on the baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.

6. Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a wide metal spatula to carefully turn them over (they are very hot). Bake 3 to 4 minutes more, or until the palmiers are golden brown. (Total baking time is 9 to 10 minutes.) While hot, sprinkle with the reserved sugar mixture. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Sally Pasley Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at sally.p.vargas@gmail.com.