Guillermo couldn't contain the excitement in his voice when he called his friend Walter and proclaimed: "Che! Loco! Oh my God! You're never going to believe what Rebe made!! It's like grandma's house over here!"
Oh, if only everything I cooked received such a reaction.
The thing he was so excited about were palmeritas, those flaky, sweet, ear-shaped cookies that are made out of puff pastry.
When Guillermo was a boy, his father took over the family farm. They lived far out of town, and only moved closer years later so that the boys could attend high school.
Each month, his grandmother (with whom they lived) would take Guillermo and his brother, Marcos, into town with her to get her pension money from the bank, and she would treat them to a palmerita at a local bakery. Like most farm wives, she was a spend-thrift type of woman, and didn't waste her money on useless things. She didn't generally buy the boys anything, but the one thing they could look forward to on that once monthly outing was a palmerita after going to the bank. (I guess everyone, like Proust, has their personal Madeleine.)
I was surprised to find out how easy these cookies are to make-using only pre-made puff pastry and sugar! (So don't go getting all impressed, here!)
I got this recipe from Ina Garten's Cookbook, Barefoot In Paris.
Recipe for Palmeritas
2 sheets Pepperidge farm Puff Pastry (left to defrost overnight in the refrigerator so it's pliable but cold)
2 cups sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Combine the sugar and the kosher salt. Pour 1 cup of the sugar on a flat surface such as a wooden board or a marble slab. Unfold the first sheet of puff pastry onto the sugar and pour 1/2 cup of the sugar mixture on top, spreading it evenly on the puff pastry. This is not about sprinkling, this is about an even covering of sugar.
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. Fold the sides of the square towards the center so they go halfway to the middle of the dough. Fold them again so the two folds meet exactly at the middle of the dough. Then fold one half over the other half as though closing a book. You will have six layers.
Slice the dough into 3/8-inch slices and place the slices, cut side up, on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Place the second sheet of pastry on the sugared board, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar mixture, and continue as above. (There will be quite a bit of sugar left on the board.) Slice and arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment.
Bake the cookies for 6 minutes, or until caramelized and brown on the bottom, then turn with a spatula and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes, until caramelized on the other side. Transfer to a baking rack to cool.