Mini Palmiers

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For New Year’s Eve I wanted to make something a bit more impressive than your average tart. It’s a glitz and glam kind of holiday and  I had every intention of baking something that reflected just that.

Then I went to the gym.

I showed up for what I thought was my usual Body Blast class. Instead, I showed up to a class called Amazing Arms. One whole hour of arms. Biceps this. Triceps that. I felt the burn and as a result I can hardly use my rolling pin. Needless to say, I kept it simple in fear that my arms might fall off at the shoulder.

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Anyway. They’re sweet. They’re buttery. They’re easy. They’re French. They’re mini palmiers and they’re delicious. Let’s call this part 2 of my puff pastry post because this is what I did with the other half of the dough. Aren’t they cute? They’re easy to make, but they do check the boxes for a classy New Years Eve. Especially if you dip them in chocoalte!

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PALMIERS: (makes about 15 pastries)

1/2 recipe of last post’s puff pastry or 250 g of store bought puff pastry

3 T. vanilla sugar (mix your sugar with a few drops of pure vanilla extract if you don’t have any)

Preheat your oven 375° F / 190° C

  1. Roll your puff dough out into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle. Trim the edges to make a near perfect edge.
  2. Sprinkle half of your sugar onto the dough and gently roll over it so it sticks.
  3. Now, either eye-balling it or marking with a knife, tightly roll a short side into a spiral shape to the center of the rectangle. Repeat for the other side. The two rolls should meet and resemble a heart or butterfly shape.
  4. Using a very sharp knife, cut 3/8″ slices. Dip each heart in the remaining sugar on BOTH sides and lay them on a cookie sheet prepared with parchment paper. Chill for 10 minutes.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes. They should be brown, but not burnt.
  6. Make sure you resist from eating them right away as the sugar needs time to cool.

Easy right?

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Goat Cheese & Spinach Tart (and how to make puff pastry)

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Today is one of those cold and snowy days that keeps you inside. The best kind of days I think. Perhaps not the popular opinion, but still my idea of fun. So, given my luck, it seemed like the perfect chance to try my hand at puff pastry. I’ve never made it before, but as someone who takes great pride in hand making everything, I owe it to myself. Don’t be fooled by its reputation because puff pastry is far easier than you may think. It may be fancy, but if you can use a rolling pin, you can make this pastry. It’s warm, buttery and flaky beyond any store bought brand. I used only half of my pastry and froze the rest, which means I can use it for something else later on.

Since it was my first time ever making puff pastry I have to say I’m really proud of this recipe. Making the dough is a loving process and it takes time. About an hours worth of time to be exact. If you’re already fumbling to the search bar to find another recipe…stop! There is some solace in the time-warp that is puff pastry. The time isn’t necessarily in the making, it’s in the waiting. So, get a book, practice your knitting or find a good documentary because this recipe welcomes multi-tasking and/or total laziness. You’re welcome.

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Just a tip before you start: Do not ignore the chilling process that makes this recipe so time-consuming. The reason for chilling is to maintain the butter-dough-butter-dough layers that you’ll form as you fold. In the oven, the butter will melt and create steam, which pushes against the dough and creates the airy flaky layers that puff pastry is known for. If you don’t properly chill between folds the butter will melt and your flakes will be sad and dense. That said, I used the freezer to speed up my chill times because I’m impatient.

So here’s the recipe! It’s literally just flour and water, but you’d be surprised how much can go wrong with so little. So, I knicked my recipe from BBC for my first try. It turned out to be the right choice because my puff came out perfectly. If you don’t have a metric food scale I have converted the quantities in the copied recipe below.

 

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PUFF PASTRY: (makes two tarts)

250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour

pinch of salt

150 ml (1/6 cup) cold water

225g (1/6 cup) good quality butter (room temperature, but not warm!) If you use salted butter, ignore the pinch of salt above.

  1. In a food processor combine flour and salt. With the motor running, slowly add the water until the dough just combines without being too dry or too moist. It should hold together when pinched. Once it’s combined and good to go, plop it out on a floured surface and bring it together into a disk shape and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, place your butter between two sheets of parchment and flatten it out into a sheet the size of a postcard. Set aside until your dough is chilled.
  3. Once your dough has had time to rest and cool, roll it out to an 11-inch circle. Place your butter sheet in the middle and fold both the right and left sides over the sheet. Then fold the top and bottom sides over to finally cover the entire sheet. It should look somewhat like an envelope.
  4. Roll this out into a long rectangle rolling only one direction. It should be about 1/8 inch thick. Mark your dough into thirds and fold the top third to the middle and the bottom third over the top of that. Do a quarter turn with your folded dough and repeat the process again. Chill until it’s firm to the touch.
  5. Repeat step four at least 4 more times. This process creates the signature flaky puff pastry. As the butter melts in the oven, it creates steam and forms a flakey buttery crust.

While your layers are refrigerating you can prepare the topping.

For the topping I turned to the fridge to see what was available, but you could easily put this tart together with any other combination of veggies or meats that suit your tastebuds. I’m addicted to goat cheese, which is the reason this tart even exists.

TOPPING: (makes 1 tart)

This is one of those recipes that just works. Like stuffing on Christmas day, the cranberries only compliment the flavor. If you don’t like the sweet and savory concept, try an onion chutney instead.

1/2 t. thyme

1 large onion

a splash of balsamic vinegar

1 c. of sliced mushrooms (I used button mushrooms)

1/4 c. dried cranberries

1/8 c. goat cheese

1/2 c. fresh spinach

1/2 recipe of puff pastry (above)

butter and olive oil for sautéing

salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C/350 F

  1. Slice onions and mushrooms thinly and sauté in butter/oil, thyme and seasoning on medium-high heat.
  2. Once the onions are translucent add the cranberries and turn the heat off. Set aside until the tart is ready to be assembled.
  3. Take out a half portion of the puff pastry and roll it into a 10 inch square. Use a sharp knife to score a 1 inch border around the entire square. This will help the pastry time around the topping in the oven.
  4. Spread the spinach evenly within the border. Then, spread the onion, mushroom and cranberry mix on top. Lastly, crumble goat cheese over top to finish. Season further if you wish.
  5. Finally, brush the edges with egg wash and bake for 35 minutes. The puff should be golden, but not burnt.