Photo By: Megan Kempston/Special to the Town Crier
The list of classic children’s food includes Oreos, chicken fingers and – pâte feuilletée?
OK, maybe that last one isn’t so classic, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be. The French pâte feuilletée often goes by the name “puff pastry” in English and can be used to make all kinds of delicious dishes, from savory galettes and potpies to delicate desserts.
A great place to start is with palmiers, spiraled heart-shaped cookies. They’re an especially kid-friendly choice for two main reasons – they have a cool shape and it’s really easy to customize the flavors for each member of the family.
Puff pastry is easy enough to make at home, yet it’s time-consuming. It might make a great rainy-afternoon project, though, because each step of rolling, folding and chilling the dough takes a few minutes. Then the dough needs to rest for 20-30 minutes – just enough time to watch part of a movie or work on an art project. A Google search will turn up plenty of recipes.
If that sounds too complicated, pick up frozen puff pastry at the grocery store. Good puff pastry contains flour, butter, salt and maybe water or lemon juice. Lower-quality puff pastry, on the other hand, will sometimes contain margarine, shortening and sweeteners, so check the ingredient list on the package. The Dufour brand is particularly delicious, though pricey.
For a batch of basic palmiers, roll out defrosted puff pastry in a long rectangle. Orient the rectangle vertically, like a piece of paper, with the long sides on the right and left. Then brush melted butter over the rectangle and sprinkle sugar on top. Roll one long side of the dough in toward the center, and then roll the other long side in to meet it. Then, from top to bottom, cut the spiraled dough into half-inch sections. Place those sections on a parchment-lined cookie sheet – cut side up. Brush them with more butter, then bake at 425 F for approximately five minutes before carefully flipping them over and baking for another five minutes.
The same technique can be used to make interesting variations. Add cinnamon, nutmeg or any other favorite spices to the sugar or spread a thin layer of jam on the puff pastry rectangle before rolling it up. Dip the baked palmiers in melted chocolate or try making savory palmiers for a delicious side dish – use pesto, shredded cheese or any other savory items as filling.
To let multiple children (or adults) make their own variations, cut the puff pastry rectangle horizontally into strips and let everyone top and roll their own versions.
The uncooked pastry is also easy to freeze ahead of time – make the cookies through the rolling and cutting steps, then freeze them on a baking sheet.
When ready to bake, let them thaw in the refrigerator, then bake as usual. n