My sister is known as Victoria, the prestigious, detailed, oncology surgeon on paper. We know her as Vicki, slightly forgetful, spontaneous, and mixes up her lefts and rights while driving. She is brave and dedicated, moving from city to city every couple of years for her profession, seeking to learn from the best, and striving to change the way we operate on cancer for a better standard of living. This year, she’s in Buffalo NY, harsh snow-filled winters and humid non air-conditioned summers. There’s plenty of wings and sauce to go around though (Anchor Bar vs. Duff’s?), and it is just a hop, skip, and jump with a passport (don’t forget it!) for any kind of Chinese food your heart desires (in Toronto).
This weekend, we traveled up to Buffalo (evidently not named for the animal, but for the river that winds around making a shape of a buffalo) to visit my sis and hang out with family. I tried to whip up one of Vicki’s favorite sweet snacks to bring home / comfort to her, Palmiers, or more widely known as Butterfly Wings or Elephant Ears. It seemed rather simple; store-bought puff pastry, sugar and a little bit of cinnamon rolled up and baked. Well, it is a disaster if you don’t buy the right kind of puff pastry, have no patience and rush through it in the middle of the night.
Packaged puffed pastry shells are not the same as a sheet of puff pastry, no matter how you try to piece it together and roll it into a sheet. Not waiting for the rolled dough to harden in the refrigerator and stay in the shape you made it into will cause it to fall apart when you cut it. Not baking it long enough on each side will not allow the sugar to caramelize and instead give it a grainy texture.
What I’ve learned so far from starting this blog and baking / making things on a more consistent basis, is that time and patience are the most important ingredients (which I have very little of most of the time). 3 stores (puff pastry is usually much easier to find, but for some reason none of the grocery stores around me had it), an hour to defrost the dough, an hour in the refrigerator to let the dough get colder and harden, and about 15 minutes in the oven finally resulted in success!
These are a bit smaller than the ones you find at the bakery, but I think they’re cuter. They look like whimsical hearts or a big smiley face to me. Vicki and my family loved them (finished a whole batch within 1 morning), but there were suggestions to cut them a little thicker so that the pastry would be flakier and to not bake them as long so that there is a good mixture of sugar bits and caramel. I love the suggestions, because just a few little tweaks can take something from “tastes good” to tastes GREAT!”
I hope you take time this week and more often in the future to reach out to a loved one that’s further away, and remind them that you are thinking of them and catch up with a phone call, email, or if you can a short weekend trip!
1 package of thawed out puff pastry (found in the frozen dessert section of your grocery store). This brand has a little bit of a higher fat content (in the butter), which makes it a little crispier than the more commonly found brand, Pepperidge Farm (which will do fine also). Thawing it out takes about 2 hours in the refrigerator, or about 1 hour at room temperature.
Sprinkle about ¼ cup regular sugar on a clean flat surface, like a cutting board or your counter. Evenly spread out the sugar to the size of the sheet of pastry (add more if you need to, to lightly cover the surface with sugar). Put the unfolded sheet of puff pastry on top of the sugar and gently roll over it with a rolling pin to press the sugar into the sheet. Mix ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon with ¼ cup sugar and sprinkle generously over the sheet of puff pastry. Gently roll over it with the rolling pin. Roll up both sides of the sheet of pastry and sugar so that it’s like a log with 2 swirls as the sides. I cut my pastry in half, length-wise to make rolling easier. (so I have 2 logs). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s a bit harder and holds it’s shape (about 1 hour).
Bake for about 7 minutes (until the bottoms are caramelized and they have puffed up). Then flip them over with a spatula and bake for another 7-8 minutes until both sides are a light brown caramel color.