cinnamon sugar palmiers

It’s bake number 43 this week! The Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person got off to a bit of a shaky start, but boy oh boy has it stepped up over the last few weeks. This week, we made Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers!

Lauren’s Take

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! Besides continuing to be thankful for my family, friendships, and the work I get to do every day, I have added something else to the list this year. This year, I am extremely thankful for rough puff pastry. I mean, the flakes, the butter, the way it is crunchy yet also melts in your mouth?! I don’t know about you, but I feel real lucky that rough puff has come into my life.

The bake for this week was the Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers. I had never made or tried palmiers before, but I was excited when I saw we’d be using rough puff pastry! I had a 1/2 recipe left from the summer when we made the Peach Melba Tart. My pastry had turned out so well that time, that I couldn’t wait to see it in action again!

Since I already had the pastry done from before, this was a super fast bake to organize. I left my pastry at room temperature to thaw out, and then placed it into the fridge until I was ready to bake. Then I made the cinnamon sugar. The recipe calls for Demerara sugar, but I only had dark brown sugar so I used that. You combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt to make the sugar mixture. Easy.

The rough puff is rolled out into a 12×10 inch rectangle. I placed some of the sugar underneath the pastry and then brushed egg wash all along the top of the dough. I then sprinkled and pressed about half of the sugar on top of the pastry, pushing it down with my rolling pin. I then rolled up the dough to make the palmiers.

I started by marking the middle of the dough and rolling each section tightly towards the centre, getting two identical (or at least decently identical…) rolls of dough. I then put the dough on its side and firmly pressed the two rolls together, brushed the outside the egg wash, sprinkled more sugar on the outside, wrapped the log in parchment paper, and placed it in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up.

Once the dough felt firm but not frozen, I took it out of the freezer, cut off the edges of the log, and cut the rest into 16 equal pieces. The pieces of dough looked so beautiful with the swirled design and the dark cinnamon sugar! I laid each cookie onto the baking sheet, giving each one some room to grow, and baked!

I began to smell the cookies after about 15 minutes of baking. When I checked in the oven, there was definitely a lot of growth and caramelization of the sugar, but the dough didn’t quite look golden brown, as is indicated in the book, so I decided to leave them. I ended up baking for 25 minutes because I wasn’t getting the golden brown colour, which I think was too long. I didn’t burn the cookies, but it did seem that the sugar was over-caramelized. So, trust your nose!

I did this bake while watching Claire’s video on rough puff pastry where she makes these cookies. There were definitely some noticeable differences. Claire uses a different type of sugar, doesn’t do an egg wash, doesn’t freeze the dough before cutting, cooks them for a different amount of time…before these differences in videos versus the recipe used to stress me out and I would wonder what the right decision would be. Now, as I have become more confident in baking and trusting my instincts, I just take whatever advice I decide feels right in the moment. And I think that’s why Claire doesn’t sweat not following the recipe exactly either, because she sure does know her stuff.

I was ECSTATIC when I took these cookies out of the oven. First off, the dough puffed beautifully and the layers were unreal. Everyone I showed this cookie to, I kept incessantly pointing out how many layers there were because I was so proud. The cookie just looks so beautiful, it’s hard not to be impressed. In terms of taste, the dough was perfect—extremely flaky and buttery and baked well. The cookie tastes like the very center of a cinnamon bun, which in my opinion is the best part, so you can guess how I feel about the cookie. As I mentioned, my sugar tasted a bit over-caramelized in places, but overall this cookie was a hit for me. 5 stars!

Julia’s Take

Hi everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! I’m always thankful for so many things, and this year I can add this little baking community to the list. These sweet little cinnamon-y babies were the perfect fall flavour and an excellent bake for the holiday weekend.

I think we all know by now how I feel about Claire’s Rough Puff. Taking homemade puff pastry out of the oven and see all of those incredible little layers gives you a level of pride I have felt from few other things in my life. It truly never gets old!

Since I still had Rough Puff in the freezer from when I made the Peach Melba Tart a couple of months back, this was an extremely quick and easy bake. I took my pastry out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours, then threw it into the fridge for the rest of the day. Once I was ready to bake, the pastry is rolled out into a rectangle, brushed with egg wash, and a mixture of demerara sugar (Claire’s all-time fave), cinnamon, and a pinch of salt gets sprinkled over the whole thing.

To create that signature palmier spiral, you need to roll the dough in towards the center from each side. The full log is brushed with egg wash and coated with the rest of the cinnamon sugar, making sure you are pressing the spirals together so keep things nice and tight. This is a simple enough technique, but for some reason I was a bit of a hot mess doing this. My pastry was starting to become VERY warm and soft, and the cinnamon sugar kept sticking to my hands. I was really worried by spirals were too loose but tried my best to get the mushy disaster of a “log” rolled in to the parchment paper and put it in the freezer to firm up as per Claire’s instructions, crossing my fingers that it would hold together well enough to bake.

I wasn’t thrilled with the shape of my “log” even after 25 minutes in the freezer, but it was firm enough to cut so I just went with it. Luckily, as I started to slice the roll into cookies, you could see the little spiral shape. I tried my best to re-spiral the cookies that had some slightly undone and pressed everything together as I went along. I love a recipe that’s forgiving enough to tweak and salvage as you go.

The cookies were spread out on a cookie sheet and baked for about 25 minutes. There are few things more comforting than the smell of cinnamon, especially on a cold, rainy, fall day. Even though the palmier spirals weren’t quite as tight as I was hoping for, my pastry puffed up beautifully and I was thrilled to see those beautiful little layers. One of the best things about the palmiers is how the brown sugar mixture caramelizes along the bottom while they bake.

The whole thing is just a dream combo of textures—sugary, crispy, flaky, buttery deliciousness! Such a simple, wonderful way to use leftover pastry. It’s another 5-star bake for me.

Coming up next week: Malted Forever Brownies! Wishing all of our Canadian friends a very Happy Thanksgiving!

peach melba tart

We’re coming to you this week with our 37th and 38th bakes from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person: another Foundational Recipe checked off, the Vanilla Pastry Cream, which is used to create the grand finale of the Pies and Tarts chapter, the long-awaited Peach Melba Tart!

 

Lauren’s Take

 

Julia’s Take

When I tell you I’d been looking forward to making this tart since I got the book, I am not exaggerating! First off, the flavours sounded immediately appealing (peaches and raspberries are two of my very favourites!) and the photo just looked so gorgeous in the book, it popped off the page. Once we started this little baking project and began following along with other Dessert People working their way through the book, I heard nothing but rave reviews of this recipe. FINALLY, it was our turn to try the tart that everyone seemed to love so much.

The base of the tart is Claire’s Rough Puff, which we’d made a couple of times already—for the Apple Tart and for the Tarte Tatin. For something that seemed super intimidating when we first came up to it, I couldn’t love it more now and could probably make it without really using the book. While I was really happy with my results previous times, for whatever reason (type of butter? Temperature? Just general improvement in skill level?!) the pastry turned out sooooo much better this time. I was working on this tart during a super busy almost-time-for-start-of-the-semester, meeting-filled work week, and while in preparation mode for a hectic weekend with out of town visitors and our other sister’s bridal shower; thank goodness for long pastry rest times, because I was able to prep, refrigerate, and bake the pastry in between meetings and errand running. The flaky layers were just next level. I don’t think anything will ever be as thrilling as pulling homemade puff pastry out of the oven!

The next component of the tart was the Vanilla Pastry Cream, which came together really quickly stovetop with eggs, sugar, vanilla, and eventually some butter which is whisked through at the very end once your custard comes off the heat. I used Vanilla Bean Paste, which was a slightly less expensive option that still gave me those pretty little black flecks of vanilla scattered throughout. Sometimes aesthetics matter, you know?

Third component: the poached peaches! I’d picked up some fresh, in-season Niagara peaches from the grocery store the day before so the timing of making this tart couldn’t have been better here in Ontario. The poaching liquid is mostly white wine and sugar, with some vanilla and lemon juice/rind for additional flavouring. As the peaches slowly simmer away, the liquid turns into this beautiful pink colour and the smell is just amazing. Definitely hang on to that poaching liquid when you’re done—it’s like liquid gold! The book says you should be able to easily peel your peaches once they’re poached and have fully cooled; I don’t know if it’s because I’d poached mine the night before and put them in the fridge overnight while the poaching liquid was still kind of warm, or if it’s because my peaches weren’t as ripe as they could have been (remember, I HATE mushy fruit), but they were not that easy to peel. Ultimately, it didn’t affect the texture and they sort of looked pretty with the peels still on, so I left them as-is.

Some of the poaching liquid is reserved and mashed up with fresh raspberries to create a sauce and with that, you are all ready to assemble! What was nice about this tart was, once your pastry is baked and cooled, it doesn’t require any more oven time. The pastry cream is spread in a thick, even layer over the puff pastry; the peaches are placed in rows on top of the cream, and then the whole thing is drizzled in the raspberry sauce. Wow, is the finished product ever impressive; there are few things I’ve made in my life that have made me as proud as this one did.

I cannot say enough good things about this tart. How can you not absolutely love this?! The flaky puff pastry was perfect; the pastry cream had the most amazing vanilla flavour and was silky smooth; the peaches not only looked gorgeous but were so soft and delicious, not only from their own peachy ripeness but from the subtle flavourings of the poaching liquid; and then the little bursts of raspberry add an amazing colour and additional pop of tartness and freshness. SO SO SO SO SO GOOD! A 5-star bake without a doubt and the most epic finish to what’s been such a fun, challenging, and delicious chapter of the book!

Next week, we’re moving on to a brand new chapter and will be kicking off Bars and Cookies with Claire’s Marcona Almond Cookies. See you then!