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Divas on a Dime: Puff pastry palmiers offer versatile holiday baking

Puff pastry is a freezer staple year-round, but I find myself using it constantly during holiday season. Its ease is matched only by its versatility. I’m sharing a technique for making palmiers that’s so easy it’s a perfect treat to make with your kids. Or if you’re like me it’s a perfect shortcut to making people think you’re an expert on French pastry.

Puff pastry can be a little expensive but often goes on sale this time of year. If you combine the sale price with a coupon you can score some great deals.

Palmiers (pahl-me-yays) are flaky, multi-layered puff pastries filled with either sweet or savory fillings and baked to melt-in-your-mouth perfection.

We have four filling recipes below; each will fill one sheet of puff pastry and yield about 18-24 pastries. Each can easily be doubled. The technique is the same for each. Preheat oven to 450°F degrees. Roll the thawed pastry on a sugared or floured surface to a roughly 12×16 rectangle. Evenly place filling across the pastry, spreading it out as evenly as possible and as close to the edge as possible.

To fold the pastry – 1. Fold the long sides of the rectangle towards the center so they meet halfway in the middle. 2. Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. 3. Then fold 1 half over the other half like closing a book, making 6 layers. 4. Slice at ½ inch intervals.

Space them 2” apart on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake for 12-14 minutes until palmiers are golden brown and puffy. Cool slightly before removing from sheet and serve.

SIMPLE SUGAR – This is the easiest and a great place to start. Combine ½ cup granulated sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Place half the sugar on a flat surface, place pastry on to and cover with remaining sugar. Roll pastry to size, rolling the sugar into the pastry. Fold, slice, then dip each piece into sugar remaining on the rolling surface. Bake as directed.

RASPBERRY WHITE CHOCOLATE – Place ¼ cup granulated sugar on flat surface and place pastry on top. Roll to size. Spread ½ cup raspberry jam evenly over pastry. It’ll look skimpy, that’s fine. Sprinkle ¼ cup white chocolate chips over surface. Fold, slice and bake as directed.

HONEYED CARAMELIZED FIG AND ONION COMPOTE WITH BLEU CHEESE – This sweet and savory combo is begging for a glass of red wine. To make compote – In a skillet on medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add 2 cups diced sweet onion and sauté for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup diced figs, 1 tablespoon honey and a pinch of kosher salt. Sauté for 10 to 15 minutes or until it’s all soft and caramelized. On a floured surface, roll pastry to size. Spread compote over pastry and sprinkle with 3 to 4 ounces of crumbled bleu cheese. Fold, slice and bake as directed.

SPINACH, ARTICHOKE AND PARMESAN – Thaw a 10-ounce box of frozen chopped spinach and squeeze as dry as possible. Drain a (14 oz.) can of artichoke hearts (not pickled) and blot with paper towels. Chop into ½ inch pieces. Roll pastry to size on floured surface. Combine 3 tablespoons mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese. Spread over pastry. Scatter the spinach and artichoke evenly over the pastry. Cover with ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Fold and slice, dipping each piece in additional parmesan and bake as directed.

Now, this is just the beginning – you can put any filling you desire into a palmier. I hope this gets your creativity flowing!

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is the recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com

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