Chocolate and Orange Palm Leaf Cookies Recipe

Palmiers Chocorange

[Chocolate and Orange Palm Leaf Cookies]

If you browse through the row of cookbooks lined up on top of our fridge, you might notice one, called “Moi, je cuisine solo ou duo” by Brigitte Namour. The title roughly means “I cook for one or two”, and this book is filled to the brim with quick and ingenious recipes, scaled for a couple of servings. Originally, I had bought it as a gift for my dear friend Marion, who’s an enthusiastic cook too. I borrowed it from her (after the minimum length of time that basic manners require) and found myself wanting to write down so many of the recipes, that it was just as simple to get my own copy. So I did, and have been thoroughly happy with it ever since.

One of the recipes I have made again and again from that book is a recipe for little savory palmiers. Palmier (pal-mee-ay) is the French word for a palm tree, but it is also the name of a large cookie commonly found in French bakeries, made with puff pastry and sprinkled with sugar. The puff pastry is rolled into two concentric circles from both sides, creating the special palmier shape I am hard-pressed to describe better than this. (Believe me, I tried.) I don’t buy palmiers very often, but now that I think about it I should, because they are a real treat : the layers of sugar on the top and the bottom are slightly caramelized, the outer rim of the dough is flaky and crisp, and the closer you bite into the center of each circle, the moister and chewier the dough gets. You can also find packages of those cookies in a mini version at grocery stores (by Lu or Belin for instance) and then they are called “Palmitos” and are crispier.

To tell you the truth, I don’t really see the connection between this shape and a palm tree. A little research revealed that this is quite the stealthy cookie, also going by the aliases of Palm Leaf, Elephant Ear, Butterfly and Angel’s Wing, which are cute enough though they don’t make much sense either. But hey, who am I to question the etymology of such a lovely confection?

In my cookbook, the recipe explains how to make savory bites in the shape of palmiers by spreading olive oil and dried herbs on store-bought puff pastry, rolling it up from both sides, then slicing and baking the slices, that turn out palmier-shaped. I’ve made it several times with great success : they are easy as a breeze, look pretty and very professional in that I-can’t-believe-you-made-these-yourself way, and taste delicious.

But the trait I love the most in this recipe is its versatility : the dough can be spread with pretty much anything, be it flavored oil, tapenade, sun-dried tomato paste, nut butter, mustard, onion confit, or any other type of spread, then sprinkled with whatever suits your fancy : herbs, cheese, nuts, little bits of bacon… Savory palmiers are best served slightly warm, but room-temp is fine too.

And of course, the recipe lends itself to an infinity of sweet versions, one of which I came up with the other day : finding myself with leftover pie dough and having bought a rather unreasonable amount of candied orange peel and chocolate chips for my Christmas baking, I decided to make chocolate and orange palmier cookies. (This barely put a dent on my supply of chocolate and orange peel, but I can certainly live with that.)

I love the mix of orange and chocolate, and these crunchy little cookies, with the velvety chocolate chips and the chewy bits of orange peel, were excellent. Served with an after-dinner cup of coffee to a few friends, they disappeared quite swiftly.

Petits Palmiers Chocorange

– 250 g pie dough (this is the amount you would make for a pie) : puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) or regular pie dough (pâte brisée or pâte sablée), store-bought or homemade.
– a handful of chocolate chips
– a handful of candied orange peel strips
– 2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 TBSP brown sugar : demerera sugar (or any unrefined sugar) gives the best results, as its crystals stay a little crunchy when cooked.
– 30 g (1/4 stick) lightly salted butter

Melt the butter in a small ramequin (don’t your ramequins just love me?) in the microwave or “au bain-marie” : put the ramequin in a small saucepan filled with a little water, over medium heat.

Roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface. If you can, roll it out (roughly) into a square. But if it is store-bought and already rolled out into a circle, that’s fine. Using a brush (or the back of a small spoon), spread a little butter all over the dough. Sprinkle the cocoa powder and sugar evenly on it.

Lay the chocolate chips and orange peel strips on the surface of the dough, arranging them in vertical lines of chocolate or orange, about two centimeters (1/2”) apart from one another.

Starting on the right hand side, start rolling the dough onto itself (jelly-roll style) into a tight log. While you roll it, the log will “swallow” the lines of chocolate and orange one after the other. Stop when you have rolled half the dough. Proceed to do the same from the left hand side, rolling the rest of the dough to meet the first half. You should now have a log of dough, with a slit down the middle.

Wrap it in parchment paper or plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to harden.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Prepare a cookie sheet lined with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper. Take the log out of the freezer and unwrap it. Using a sharp knife, cut it in slices about 5 mm thick (1/6”). Lay the slices on the cookie sheet, spacing them a bit. Don’t worry if they are not in a perfect palmier shape yet, they will bloom into it while they bake.

Brush the tops of the palmiers with the remaining butter, and bake for about twelve minutes, or until they have turned a little golden. Transfer to a rack to cool, and serve with tea or coffee.

  • vika

    swoon! I grew up with palmiers (or “little ears” as we called them in Russian) as one of my favorite desserts, and have never even attempted to find a recipe for them, thinking the puff pastry would be a pain. But, hunh: pie pastry? Is the French pie pastry generally something approaching mille-feuilles? In any case, these sound very doable. Having made zucchini soup yesterday (and, naturally, thought of your site), I am about to speak to the other half of its title. Thank you!

  • http://ilforno.typepad.com/il_forno/ Alberto

    It’s funny how palmiers have other weird names in other languages too. In Germany they’re called Schweinsohren (pig ears for those not speaking German), and I can maybe see a resemblance. In Italy (at least Naples) they’re called Prussians… and I don’t have a clue why! Good to know I’m not the only one asking himself such “futuile” questions :-)

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Vika – “Little ears”, that’s a cute one! You are quite right, making puff pastry is supposed to be difficult (though I’ve never tried). But in France you can buy very good puff pastry (pâte feuilletée) at grocery stores. So if I want to make them the traditional way, I’ll use that. But regular pie dough, the one you make with butter and sugar and flour, makes for great palmiers too. And this kind of dough I prefer to make myself.

    Alberto – Apparently, the different names for this type of cookie is thesis-material! Thanks for contributing two new ones! And now it gets political! :) I am stumped by the “Prussians” too : could it be from the little metal signs they had on their helmets?

  • http://gastroblog.com Jackie D

    These sound pretty easy and good (though I would probably omit the orange peel, being fussy). I don’t have a freezer, though, so could I just stick the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Jackie – Absolutely, the fridge would work too. You could also omit the chilling step altogether if you’re cautious and the filling is not too runny… I’m curious to see what you’ll come up with to replace the orange peel! :)

  • http://www.BiancaAndDarren.com/BBLog Bianca

    Congratulations for your nomitation!
    Your web site is very nice!
    B

  • http://www.obsessionwithfood.com Derrick Schneider

    The rolling from the sides is an interesting variant. I learned to make them by taking each edge and folding it towards the middle (stopping a little shy of the actual middle so that you leave a “gutter” for folding). This gives you four “rows” or “columns” (depending on where the long side is). I think this would be a double fold in pastry terms. Then you fold the two halves together.

    What you end up with, ideally, are heart-shaped cookies. Rolling from each edge probably produces a tighter cookie though. Mine tend to open up more than I’d like, even when I squash the cookies a bit. I just made some last weekend, so it will probably be a while before I make more, but I think I’ll try the rolling technique next time.

    Derrick

  • http://www.rappyamhappy.com rappy

    I just voted for you! Of course, I also nominated you ;).

  • http://www.makunas.com/aliveone Jenny

    We called them “elephant ears” and I’ve always adored them. I never thought of making them myself, but I’m definitely going to try. Maybe even today, in fact.

    Switching subjects, do you know of a site where I can buy French cookbooks online without insane shipping costs?

  • http://www.rappyamhappy.com rappy

    Jenny, try http://www.amazon.ca

    There is a French boutique there, but I can’t attest to the quality of the titles.

  • http://radio.weblogs.com/0129838/ Donna in Harrisburg

    Making a puff-pastry-like dough is fairly easy — its like making pie crust but applying a technique known as fraisage. I recently described it in a post! The recipe comes from Gordon Hamersley”s Bistro Cooking at Home.
    For the Pastry:
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and well-chilled
    4 to 5 tablespoons ice water.
    Method: In a food processor, cut the butter into the flour by pulsing it 8 to 10 times, being careful not to overheat and overmix the butter. Slowly add the ice water to start to bring the dough together. Dump the mixture out onto a clean surface and form the dough into a log shape about 8 inches long. With the heel of your hand, push down and away from you all along the line of the dough. With a pastry scraper, gather up the dough, shape it back into a log and repeat the smearing action. This technique will form sheets of butter in the dough, creating a light crust almost like puff pastry.

    Gather the dough into a ball, wrap it well with plastic wrap, flatten it a bit and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour before rolling.

    Great for tarts… and I’m guessing it would be divine for these palmiers.

  • http://www.web-ho.com/blog Linus

    Hey Rappy – Good call nominating Chocolate & Zucchini for the Bloggies. Of course, I did too … the more the merrier. Bound to be a winner!

  • Céline

    Hello pucette,

    je dois dire que je retrouve ton blog avec grand plaisir, après cette pause due à mes vacances, et c’est un régal de lire une semaine de postings d’un coup !

    Je suis de plus en plus fière de toi, ton blog est vraiment génialissime ! Tu mérites vraiment cette nomination et surtout de gagner… j’ai bien sur voté pour toi…! :-)

    Gros bisous et à demain soir,
    Céline.

  • http://blogs.salon.com/0003323 Meg

    I found out about your site while trying to nominate a friend for the Bloggies. It’s lovely…visually, textually, and ideologically. Thank you for sharing with us in every sense.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Rappy and Linus – Thank you so much for nominating C&Z! It’s a wonderful compliment…

    Derrick – It’s a great idea to pinch a little gutter in the middle to make hearts. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it’s very seasonal, too!

    Bianca and Meg – So glad you enjoy Chocolate & Zucchini, thanks for telling me!

    Jenny – You can try fnac.com and amazon.fr. They both express ship to the US and Canada for roughly 15 euros + 1.9 euros per item. Amazon also has a slower but cheaper option at 9 euros + 1.9 per item. And if you need any French cookbook recommendation, you know whom to ask! :) (Or if you’d like me to check something out at the bookstore before you buy it.)

    Donna – Thanks a lot for the pâte feuilletée recipe : it doesn’t sound so daunting the way you put it, I will definitely try it and report back!

    Céline – Ravie de te récupérer aussi! Et merci pour ton vote… A ce soir!

  • Andree

    clotilde, I love your blog! I just wanted to mention that another good place to get French books in North America is http://www.archabault.ca It’s a store out of Quebec, so all the prices are in Canadian dollars (a deal for Americans) and shipping to the US is something like $7 CAD.

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Andree – Thanks for the site recommendation! For those of you who would like to check it out, the complete URL is http://www.archambault.ca .

  • Bee

    How do i nominate for C & Z?
    What’s the title of your cookbook?
    Would love to nominate you and buy your book as christmas gifts and for myself of course!!
    Your favourite foods and philosophy are mine too!! I love chocolate(dark and Valhrona) Combinination of choc and orange. (do you have a moist choc and orange cake recipe?)
    Love to bake,perfectionist,and I don’t waste precious calories on mediocre food.Eat only the best or don’t eat at all,till later when something else yummier appears!

  • Bee

    Do you also have a butter cake recipe that’s dense,rich and moist?? I’ve been looking for one forever and have not found one that’s ideal….Bee

  • Bee

    Does the Brigitte Namour book you mentioned come in english?

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Bee – The cookbook is still under construction! I don’t really have a butter cake recipe to recommend, and unfortunately, I don’t think Brigitte Namour’s book has been translated…

  • Sirene

    I love the idea of these and when the heat wave is over I will be inthe baking mood. They remind me of savory ones I bake with honey mustard and Proscuitto filling, always a hit at my catering gigs.

    I love the blog, keep us salivating!

  • zoy

    Just wanted to mention a variation for the choclate chips and orange mentioned in the beginning. I spread nutella (a chocolate hazelnut spread) on the pastry then sprinkle crushed nuts over (usually hazelnut or pecans.) Then follow the regular directions for rolling… Yummy!

  • http://littleowl.com/heidi Heidi

    You know, this entry is about a million years old but I re-found it while looking for a recipe for palmiers, so thought I’d comment!

    I heard, and I have NO idea where (or how accurate it is), that the nickname “palmiers” actually comes from the resemblance to pilgrims’ hands pressed together in prayer. Since pilgrims carried palm leaves (and were therefore nicknamed palmers/palmiers in the Middle Ages), the connection comes from that nickname and their praying hands rather than from any resemblance to palm leaves.

    Or so I’m sure I read somewhere!

  • http://www.sweetashoney.co.nz sweetashoney

    I did it a bit differently to looks more like the palmitos we can buy in France and it came good too. Thanks for inspiring me! This is my recipe.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      They look fantastic, well done!

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