Making puff pastry from scratch takes time and skill. Luckily for busy and/or inexperienced bakers, there’s no need to do it yourself. The same all-butter Dufour-brand frozen puff pastry used by professional pastry chefs in 4-star kitchens is available at specialty stores and many supermarkets. It comes in handy when you need some quick but elegant cookies.
- To make Sacristans, roll a sheet of puff pastry into a 12-inch square, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with finely chopped almonds and sugar. Slice into 1-inch strips, and twist before baking.
- For Pinwheels, brush with beaten egg, sprinkle with sugar and simply roll the square into a tight cylinder. Slice, and bake.
- Palmiers, otherwise known as elephant ears, are a sort of double pinwheel: Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar, then roll one side in towards the center, then roll the other to meet the first spiral. Slice into the classic shape, which some say resembles a butterfly.
It’s fun to experiment with fillings, adding cinnamon and other spices the to the sugar, using different kinds of nuts and finely chopped dried fruit or spreading some jam over the pastry. Take care not to overfill, especially with sugary ingredients, which will ooze and burn.
To prevent sticking, always bake puff-pastry cookies on parchment or a silicone baking mat. For the puffiest puff-pastry cookies, chill them before baking (or shape them ahead of time, freeze and bake straight from the freezer). A hot oven, about 400°F, is best. Bake the cookies until they are well browned, 15 to 25 minutes depending on their thickness, so their interiors will by crisp, not soggy.
Image: Lauren Chattman