In Venezuela there is a bakery in every single corner of every single neighborhood. Most of these bakeries are owned either by Portuguese and/or Italian immigrants that came after the war – and in some cases pass down form generation to generation. Do you know what that means right?
European pastries and breads.
I know, I know, I’m a total snob when it comes to my sweets.
When I was growing up, we went home for lunch. Schools will let us out around 11:30pm and all of us would go home, have lunch with our families and then return for the afternoon classes.
Nothing beat going home for lunch. I pity those kids that are placed in a crowded school cafeteria now a day.
I would usually walk home from school, but sometimes my mother would either pick me up and before we got home she would stop at the neighborhood bakery to pick up a bag of fresh bread for the day. I love going into the bakery. The smell of the fresh baked bread, the busyness of the place, but what I love the most was seeing the display cabinets with rows of delicious pastries. Delicate decorated cakes, cookies, pies, croissants. But among all that sugar I would always seek out my favorite - the “Palmeras”.
Those pale swirls, resembling “palms” or elephant ears (as I learned to call them when I came to the US) called out to me. These delicate leaf-shape sweet pastry with the burn caramelized sugar was one sweet that I just could never say not to. I would go into begging mode, asking my mom to buy me one. She would not always please me with the treat, but when she did, Oh boy was it a good day. I would take that treat and made sure it lasted as long as I could. I would pick at the crispy caramelized buttery pastry, eating first one half and then saving the other for later.
Even after all this time and trying so many pastry from all over the world, I still love this sweet treat and whenever I enter a bakery, it’s the first thing that I seek out in the display case. I guess you can say that I’m taking myself back in time, when taking a bite would automatically transport me to those childhood days, the neighborhood bakery and begging my mom to get me one.
It makes me feel like a kid again.
So after making this week’s TWD baking choice and seeing that I had half a sheet of puff pastry left over, I totally decided that I had to make “palmeras” or in this case “palmeritas” (little palms).
- 1 sheet puff pastry (I use DuFour, but Pepperidge Farms is good as well too)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
If the puff pastry has been frozen, follow instructions on the package to bring it to the right temperature to work with. Usually you can leave it overnight in the refrigerator to defrost so it’s pliable but cold.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a baking tray lined with parchment or silpat
Mix the sugar and salt together. Pour about ¼ cup of it on a flat surface you will be using to roll out the puff pastry.
Unfold the sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar, pour the rest of the sugar on top and with a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough until it’s a 13 inch square and the sugar is pressed into the puff pastry on the top and bottom.
Roll up the left vertical side inward, stopping in the middle of the dough. Roll up the right side of the dough. The two rolls should be meeting at the middle and touching. Press the two sides together gently and let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
Once chilled, start at one end and cut slices about ½-inch in thickness. Place the cut pieces in the prepare pan, giving them a bit of space, since they will puff up during baking. Lightly sprinkle sugar onto each side. Pinch and press the sides of the two rolls together to ensure that they don’t unroll during baking. As a last step, use your thumb to press lightly down to flatten them a bit, but not by much.
Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown and caramelized. Mine were pretty much done at the 8-minute mark, but I made them smaller, so keep in mind.
When ready, take out and remove from the baking pan to a cooling rack. They are best eaten fresh the day you make them and can be store in an air tight container for a couple of days. Our little palms lasted a total of 2 hours before they disappear, just like… magic!
Tip: You can totally turn these from sweet to savory, by sprinkling them with your favorite cheese, or spreads.