These buttery crisp cinnamon & spice palmiers come together with pastry dough, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and orange zest. Shaping them is surprisingly easy and I walk you through each step in today’s thorough tutorial. If you’re short on time, you can absolutely use store-bought puff pastry, but if you can spare a couple hours for the dough to chill in the refrigerator, I urge you to try a simple homemade variation using rough puff pastry.
What Are Palmier Cookies?
Have you ever had palmiers before? They’re a delightful French pastry made from puff pastry dough and sugar. Variations can be made with cinnamon, spices, chocolate, or even savory herbs and other fillings. Palmier means palm tree in French and these fancy looking cookies can also be known as elephant ears, palm trees, shoe soles, palm hearts, or palm leaves. (Not to be confused with elephant ears made from fried dough– these are baked.) And it’s a treat with many names throughout different regions of the world!
Palmiers are typically enjoyed for breakfast, snack, or dessert. To make them at home, roll dough out with sugar or other toppings, and then roll or fold the two sides into the center to meet in the middle. Chill the shaped logs and then slice and bake. Flip over during bake time so the sugary coating can caramelize on both sides. You can make palmiers from scratch with real puff pastry or for a shortcut, you can reach for store-bought puff pastry. I like using this rough puff pastry because it’s not quite as laborious as authentic puff pastry, but it still has a homemade flavor and indulgence to it. It’s what I use when making homemade turnovers.
Rough puff makes a buttery and tasty base for cinnamon & spice palmiers!
Tell Me About These Cinnamon & Spice Palmiers
- Flavor: Enjoy sweet caramelized flavor on the exterior of each pastry cookie with a hint of spice from nutmeg and cardamom. I love adding orange zest this time of year because it’s a bright flavor that always pairs nicely with warm spices.
- Texture: Certainly noteworthy! The edges are light and crisp while the centers are melt-in-your-mouth soft. Dozens of buttery layers shatter and flake with each bite, making scrumptious crumbs all over your fingers and plate. (Baked puff pastry is always a beautiful mess!) Flipping the pastries over about halfway through bake time is the secret to their caramelized crisp edges.
- Ease: Homemade palmiers can be as easy as rolling and folding thawed store-bought puff pastry or, for a challenge, made with from-scratch butter laminated dough. But if you want to make the journey somewhere in the middle and still show off your baking skills, use rough puff pastry. It requires just over 2 hours of refrigeration and your hands are the best tool.
Using “Rough Puff” Pastry as the Dough
Rough puff pastry has become a popular method for making homemade dough because it produces bakery-style puff pastry with lots of flaky layers without the same time commitment that laminating dough (such as for croissants) requires. The trick is to work large pieces of cold butter into dry ingredients and then hydrate it all with ice cold water. Sometimes bakers grate butter into the mix or use a food processor. There’s many ways to make this dough.
I use a version of this dough to make homemade turnovers and created a separate rough puff pastry page with a video tutorial just in case you want it for other recipes that call for the dough– like butternut squash and mushroom tart, cranberry brie tarts, or today’s palmiers.
More About This Shortcut Pastry Dough
- 5 Ingredients: Flour, Salt, Sugar, Butter, and Water
- No Yeast, No Laminating: Unlike the breakfast pastries dough, this dough does not require any yeast and unlike croissants and traditional puff pastry, this dough does not require laminating with a separate layer of butter.
- Flatten & Fold Dough: Flatten dough after it’s made and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. After that 1st refrigeration, flatten and fold the dough like a business letter 6x. Chill in the refrigerator 1 more time for at least 15 minutes. After that, the dough is ready to use in these palmiers or other recipe.
This is the rough puff pastry dough:
Step-by-Step Photos: How to Make Cinnamon & Spice Palmiers
Let me show you how they come together so you have a better understanding before you begin. For this palmiers recipe, start with about 1 lb of pastry dough which is the full recipe of this rough puff pastry or 1 standard box (with 2 sheets) of store-bought puff pastry. Divide the rough puff pastry in half and roll out each half in a sugar and spice mixture.
Quick Success Tip: Yes, instead of flour, you’ll roll the dough out with sugar. That’s the secret to their caramelized edges– sugar worked directly in the exterior of the dough!
Working with 1 half at a time, roll dough out in the sugar & spice mixture into a 10-inch square:
Below, left: Mix more sugar & spices together and combine with orange zest. Below, right: Top with sugar/spice/zest mixture.
Roll each side inward towards the center. Some palmier cookie recipes fold the sides inward instead of rolling.
Repeat with 2nd piece of dough. Below, left: Wrap each “log” up and chill for 30 minutes. Without time in the refrigerator, the logs will be impossible to slice and the cookies will lose shape in the oven. Below, right: After refrigerating, slice into 3/8 inch thick slices which is just under 1/2 inch size.
Arrange on lined baking sheet:
Bake in a hot oven for 8 minutes, then flip over:
The remaining bake time depends on your oven and the dough of your cookies, but another 10-12 minutes is usually standard for this particular recipe using rough puff pastry. Good rule of thumb: simply bake until they’re golden brown.
Do you have a favorite recipe for palmiers? I also love this chocolate and orange palmiers recipe from Clotilde.
Here Is The Recipe:Print
These light & crisp pastry cookies come together with puff pastry dough, sugar, spices, and a hint of orange zest. For a quick and easy variation, use store-bought puff pastry or try homemade rough puff pastry dough.
- 1 lb homemade rough puff pastry or store-bought frozen & thawed puff pastry (2 sheets)
Sugar Spice Mixture for Rolling & Filling
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 teaspoons orange zest (optional)
- Dough: Prepare homemade rough puff pastry dough through 2nd refrigeration. If using store-bought frozen puff pastry, make sure it’s thawed.
- Sugar Spice Mixture: Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Evenly divide mixture into 2 bowls. Stir orange zest into half. The 1st half without the orange zest will be used for rolling out the dough in the next step. The 2nd half with the orange zest will be used for filling the rolled out dough in step 4.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of the 1st sugar and spice mixture (the one without the orange) onto a large work surface. Coat rolling pin with mixture as best you can. Remove dough from the refrigerator and, if using homemade rough puff pastry, cut in half. If using thawed store-bought puff pastry, which is typically two 9-inch square sheets of dough, work with 1 sheet at a time and unfold the sheet you’ll work with first. Place 2nd half of dough back in the refrigerator. Always best to keep dough cold before working with it. Roll dough into a 10-inch square, sprinkling more sugar spice mixture onto the dough as much as necessary to prevent the rolling pin from sticking. Do your best to keep the edges straight and do your best to smooth out the creases if using store-bought dough. Use a bench scraper, sharp knife, or pizza cutter to cut uneven edges if necessary.
- Filling & shaping: Sprinkle half of the 2nd half of sugar spice mixture (the one with the orange zest) evenly on top. Run rolling pin over the sugar spice filling to press it down into the dough as best you can. Cut a tiny slit in the very center of the bottom edge of the square. This is a visual mark for you so you know where the center is. Slowly and tightly roll the left edge into the center. Slowly and tightly roll the right edge into the center. Carefully wrap “log” tightly in plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 with 2nd half of dough. Save any excess sugar spice mixture left on your work surface to sprinkle on cookies before baking. Chill “logs” for 30 minutes or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line 2-3 baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Remove logs from the refrigerator and unwrap. Slice off the rounded ends so each end is straight and even. Slice each log into 3/8 inch (just under 1/2 inch) thick slices. If the logs or cookies unravel as you shape the cookies, which is bound to happen, re-roll back together. You’ll have around 36-40 evenly sliced cookies. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets and sprinkle any leftover excess sugar spice evenly mixture on top of each.
- Bake, rotate, finish baking: Bake for 8-9 minutes. Cookies will be beginning to puff up/expand in the oven. Remove from the oven and flip each over. If cookies have lost shape, use a fork or spoon to roll/tighten back together. Continue baking for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. (Note: If using store-bought puff pastry, the time may be closer to 8 extra minutes instead of 10-12. Just bake until golden brown.)
- Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Or enjoy the cookies warm.
- Cover and store leftover pastry cookies for up to 1 week at room temperature.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: If using homemade dough, see the detailed dough recipe instructions for make-ahead and freezing details. You can essentially prep the dough 48 hours in advance or freeze up to 1 month. The shaped logs can be refrigerated for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. See end of step 5. You can also freeze the logs for up to 1 month. Thaw logs in the refrigerator before continuing with step 6. (Note: I find there aren’t quite as many flaky layers in the baked cookies after freezing/thawing the logs and the sugar coating may become wet as it thaws.)
- Plain Cinnamon Sugar: You can skip the nutmeg, cardamom, and orange zest for plain cinnamon sugar palmiers.
Keywords: cinnamon sugar palmiers