I grew up eating French hearts, so, for me, this recipe is a precious piece of childhood and where the past meets the present. For you, the simple recipe is a stroke of genius.
With just 3 ingredients (one of which is optional), the cookies make something extraordinary and delectable. A flaky, crispy pastry whose sticky layers hide the most intriguing flavors of caramelized sugar and aromatic cinnamon.
What are French hearts or Palmier cookies?
French hearts are also called palmier, which is French for palm tree. Why are they called palmier cookies or palm leaf cookies? Because they look like palm leaves.
Since the shape also resembles the heart, eyeglasses, and ears of an elephant, they’re known by many other names: glasses, French hearts, pastry hearts, and elephant ear cookies.
Making the cookies is rather easy. You sprinkle spiced sugar on puff pastry, roll, cut, and bake. And somehow, you get the perfect combination of crisp cookies, flaky dough, and melted sugar.
- Start by bringing your puff pastry ( homemade or store-bought) to room temperature.
- Very lightly flour your prep area and then roll the puff pastry into a rough rectangle.
- Then sprinkle cinnamon sugar (sugar tossed in cinnamon) across the rectangle.
- With your rolling pin, press the sugar into the pastry. Use a light touch to ingrain the spiced crystals.
- Next, take the long edge (length of the rectangle) of the pastry and start folding it inwards. Roll till you reach the center of the pastry.
- Now roll the other edge till it meets the first rolled half in the middle.
- Slide the rolled pastry log into the fridge to firm up. Chances are the butter in the pastry will melt while you work with it. Chilling the rolled log solidifies the butter.
Baking the palmier cookies
- When the dough is very firm to the touch, take it out. Cut quarter-inch-thick slices.
- Dust more of the cinnamon sugar on top and then place on a Silpat or parchment-paper-lined tray.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes in a preheated oven.
- Scatter another round of cinnamon sugar right out of the oven, then transfer it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
As fancy as palmier cookies sound, there isn’t much technique to making them. But here are a couple of things to take care of:
- It’s crucial that your pastry be at room temperature when rolling it. So, if it’s frozen, thaw it thoroughly.
- Chilling the rolled log is necessary because it sets the butter and helps the cookie puff up. If the butter in the pastry is melted, you won’t get those gorgeous layers.
- After you cut the log, it’s your choice to toss the unbaked cookies in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. For those who love the caramelized crunch, I recommend this extra step to coat the cookies.
- Keep an eye on the cookies after the 12-minute mark, as each oven is different and the sugar on the cookies can burn easily. When the cookies have puffed up, golden on top and brown on the bottom, they’re done.
- Store the French heart cookies in an airtight container, and they will last a good while.
Sugar: Raw, granulated sugar will hold you in good stead for this recipe. But if you don’t have it, use regular plain sugar. Demerara sugar, with its beautiful crystals, will give the heart cookies a good crunch and texture.
Puff pastry: Since I’m all for keeping recipes straightforward during the holiday season, I recommend buying puff pastry. It’s easy to find and is a fail-safe method for making a flaky cookie. If you’re in the mood for the effort, go ahead and make the pastry at home. December is a great month for it.
Filling: I religiously make French hearts with sugar and cinnamon, and I’ve never felt the need to try anything else. But you have free rein. Some almond meal would give a delicious nutty touch. Or you can spread your favorite jam. You even have the option of making a savory palmier with Parmesan cheese and herbs.
All the reasons to try the French hearts recipe:
Super crispy, puffy layers that shatter in your mouth
Superbly light, ideal as a yummy breakfast pastry
Easy to customize with savory or sweet spices and fillings
Not overly sweet, a perfect pairing for morning coffee or evening tea
More fun holiday recipes
French Hearts Recipe
- 1 sheet (500 gms) Puff pastry, room temperature (homemade or store-bought)
- 1/3 cup Raw sugar You can use regular granulated sugar too
- 2 tsp Cinnamon powder
- Preheat your oven to 200C. Line a baking tray with Silpat or parchment paper.
- Roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle about 14" * 12".
- Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon powder on the dough. Lightly press the sugar and cinnamon into the dough, using a rolling pin.
- Starting with one long side, start rolling the dough tightly until the center. Repeat on the other side.
- Chill the log for at least 20 minutes.
- Cut into 1/4" thick slices and place on the baking tray. Sprinkle some more sugar if you like.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes until the pastry is all puffed up and golden brown in color.
- Transfer the cookies onto a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before transferring to an air-tight container. Enjoy!