VANILLA PALMIERS

Grand Magazine - - FEATURE -

These are not the bready im­posters found in many North Amer­i­can bak­eries. Sim­ple, flaky, sweet and but­tery, these are like the shat­tery treats sold at tiny patis­series that line cob­ble­stone streets. One bite and you’ll think you’re in Paris.

Makes 24

3/4 cup (175 mL) vanilla su­gar*

1 roll com­mer­cial puff pas­try, de­frosted

4 ounces (125 g) semi-sweet choco­late, op­tional

1. Sprin­kle the work sur­face with half the su­gar. Place a disk of puff pas­try on the su­gar. Sprin­kle with more su­gar. Press­ing the su­gar into the dough, roll un­til you have an 8-by-12-inch (20-by-30-cm) rec­tan­gle.

2. Trim the dough so that the edges are even. Fold the long sides of the pas­try rec­tan­gle to­ward the cen­tre leav­ing one-half inch (1 cm) be­tween where the folded edges would meet. This gap is cru­cial for the palmiers to keep their shape when cook­ing.

3. Fold the dough in half along this gap. You will now have a roll four lay­ers thick and about two inches (5 cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) long.

4. Flat­ten the dough gen­tly with the palms of your hands. Wrap the dough in plas­tic and re­frig­er­ate for one to two hours. Scrape the su­gar off the work sur­face and save with the rest of the su­gar for dip­ping later.

5. About 30 min­utes be­fore you are ready to bake the palmiers, pre­heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a bak­ing sheet or two with parch­ment pa­per.

6. With a sharp knife, cut the dough cross­wise 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick. Dip both cut sides in su­gar and place cut side down in the parch­ment.

7. Be sure to leave at least two inches (5 cm) be­tween palmiers. They will ex­pand quite a bit side­ways. They don’t ex­pand much top to bot­tom, so you might be able to get six rows of four if your sheet is big enough.

8. Bake 15 to 20 min­utes or un­til the palmiers are am­ber and the su­gar has caramelize­d. Al­low the palmiers to cool a few min­utes be­fore trans­fer­ring to a wire rack to cool fully.

9. Op­tional choco­late dip: Melt the choco­late in the mi­crowave oven in 30-se­cond bursts or in a heat-proof bowl over hot, not boil­ing, water, stir­ring gen­tly un­til smooth. Tilt­ing the bowl to pool the melted choco­late, dip half of a palmier into the choco­late, then place on parch­ment pa­per or waxed pa­per to set.

*VANILLA SU­GAR

Vanilla su­gar is where steeped and scraped pods go to die. You can make as much as you want with this ra­tio. Use it in place of gran­u­lated su­gar in baked goods to boost the flavour. It also makes a lovely ad­di­tion to tea and cof­fee. The best part? You never waste a scrap of vanilla again.

1 vanilla bean (whole or with the caviar re­moved and steeped)

2 cups gran­u­lated su­gar

1. Split the vanilla bean length­wise. Place the bean pieces in a jar with a tight-fit­ting lid.

2. Pour the su­gar over the bean pieces, tighten the lid, and give it a shake or two to dis­trib­ute the su­gar and bury the beans.

3. Place in a cool, dry place for a week be­fore us­ing. Once in­fused, vanilla su­gar keeps in­def­i­nitely. Re­plen­ish any time you use a vanilla pod. You can­not add too many pods. As the su­gar gets low, top it up.

4. Just keep bak­ing with vanilla, and you’ll never run out of vanilla su­gar. If it clumps, grate the su­gar on the large holes of a box grater to break apart.

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