Three Cheese Palmiers
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    Makes 15–20 palmiers
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Traditionally palmiers, also known as ‘elephant’s ears’, are sweet and made from puff pastry. Ross has been keen on making these three cheese palmiers for a couple of weeks now; we serve them as a bar snack on Saturday afternoon when we get a few people coming in for a drink or two. They also make a delicious and surprising addition to our version of a ploughman’s.

I am in love with making rough puff pastry! It’s a pretty straightforward recipe and I find it remarkably satisfying to make. Once you have made your own, I guarantee that you will never buy puff pastry again. I make the recipe in larger batches and freeze it in 250g blocks, as these are perfect to whip out if you fancy making these palmiers, or perhaps a pie or tart or something. There are so many recipes that can be made using this rough puff pastry.

It is made by using equal quantities of flour, butter and cream cheese and the beauty is that you can make the quantity according to the amount of ingredients you have, e.g. if you only have 80g cream cheese, then you adapt the rest of the ingredients accordingly. The secrets to success are that your butter must be cold, make sure you don’t overwork the dough, and if a few larger flakes of butter are still visible when rolling your layers, then it’s actually a good thing as this helps the flaky layers to form during baking.

For these palmiers, I have used a mature strong Cheddar cheese and a Corsican semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese (that is encased and aged in herbs from the island). The reason for this latter choice is that I had some leftover from a function and it provides an interesting taste. You can use any cheese you like, but the harder and stronger the cheese, the better results you will get (but avoid using soft creamy cheeses for making these palmiers).photo of Three Cheese Palmiers

Ingredients & Method

For the cream cheese pastry

  • 100g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 100g unsalted butter (well chilled), diced
  • 100g full-fat cream cheese

For the palmiers

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 100g mature Cheddar cheese (such as Keen’s Cheddar), grated
  • 100g Fleur de Marquise cheese (Corsican semi-hard sheep’s milk cheese), grated
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 egg, whisked with 1 tablespoon milk (for the egg wash)
  • 2 tablespoons mixed seeds (such as nigella, poppy and sesame seeds)

First prepare the pastry. Place the flour in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and attach the dough hook. Add the cold diced butter and cream cheese, then using a slow speed, rub the butter and cream cheese into the flour until a ball of dough forms. It doesn’t matter if quite large flakes of butter are visible as this will help with the layers. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry in one direction away from you, to form a thick, even rectangle. Fold the bottom third up and the top third down, then give the pastry a quarter turn clockwise so the folded edges are at the side. Repeat the rolling, folding and turning sequence twice more. Wrap the pastry in cling film and rest in the fridge for 1 hour. Repeat the whole rolling and folding process again (rolling and folding the pastry 3 times as before). In total you need to roll and fold the pastry 6 times. Wrap the pastry in cling film and rest in the fridge for another 30 minutes (resting is important so that the pastry does not get too warm). The rough puff pastry is now ready to use.

For the palmiers, roll out the rested pastry on a lightly floured work surface to an even rectangular shape about 2mm thick. Spread the mustard over the surface, then scatter both grated cheeses and the chopped oregano evenly over the top.

Fold one of the longer sides of dough halfway towards the centre, then repeat with the other long side so that they meet in the middle. Brush egg wash over the pastry, then repeat the same folding process into the middle again, concealing the first folds. Press down lightly. Brush with more egg wash and now fold the two halves together (if you look at the end of the folded pastry, it should look like a ‘B’). Brush the whole log of pastry with egg wash and sprinkle all over with the mixed seeds, then rest (unwrapped) in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Cut across the pastry log into 1cm-thick slices, then place the palmiers on the prepared baking trays, spacing them out evenly. Bake in the oven for 18–20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve slightly warm.

Cook’s Notes

These palmiers will keep for up to a week in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Before serving, reheat the palmiers at 150°C/Gas Mark 2 for about 10 minutes, if you like.

Serve as a snack at a canapé party or serve as an accompaniment with soup or as part of a ploughman’s.