This sugar coated puff pastry cookie may seem daunting at first (the puff pastry preparation is somewhat lengthy) but it’s totally worth the effort. Resist the urge to add cinnamon or another spice to the sugar, it might interrupt the delicate caramelized butter flavor.
All you need is this Instant Puff Pastry recipe (a truncated version of the traditional) and sugar. The puff pastry will yield four times more than you will need for the cookies, so good news, you’ll have plenty. You can either make a boatload of cookies, or freeze the dough for later use, which I recommend. Puff pastry dough is extremely versatile and easy to use once it has been prepared – I made Spinach, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Turnovers with mine, but more on that later, it’s cookie o’clock.
Quick & Easy Puff Pastry (Recipe adapted from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker)
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 4.5 sticks or 18 oz. cold unsalted butter
- 1 cup cold water
- 1/4 recipe Quick & Easy Puff Pastry
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Tin foil or parchment paper to prevent sticking
Preparation (you will need a food processor):
1. Sift flour and salt together in a bowl. Place in bottom of food processor fitted with metal blade.
2. Cut butter into small chunks and add it to flour and salt. Pulse twice.
3. Remove cover and use a spatula to stir dry mix from the sides of the bowl. Cover and mix again until crumbs appear.
4. Add the cold water to the food processor and pulse again. Use the spatula to clean the sides of the bowl, refit metal blade and pulse again.
5. The dough will still look crumbly and unset, but it is important not to overmix. Invert the bowl on to a well floured surface and corral the dough into a rough rectangle with your hands.
Dust the dough with flour and press (don’t roll) it with a rolling pin to flatten. Lift and turn the dough 90 degrees and press it again, re-flouring the bottom if it begins to stick.
6. Roll the dough into an 18 inch square and divide it in half to make two rectangles (about 9 x 18 inches each).
Roll one rectangle to make it 12 x 18 inches. Fold the left third of the dough over the middle third and the right third across over that.
Roll the dough into a tight package from one of the short ends then repeat the process with other half of the dough.
For the elephant ears, we will only need 1/4 of the recipe, so divide each roll in half and wrap all four chunks of dough tightly with saran wrap. Refrigerate a quarter of the dough for at least an hour and thirty minutes. (The remainder may stay refrigerated for 2-3 days or frozen and defrosted for later use).
7. Sprinkle your work surface with about half of the sugar and press the dough into the sugar to soften it, turning it 90 degrees until the dough is soft enough to roll out. Making sure to keep both the dough and the work surface generously sugared, roll the dough into an 8 x 12 inch rectangle.
8. Trim the edges of the dough with a knife.
Fold the longer sides of the dough a little less than halfway (about 1.5 inches) towards the middle.Repeat with the opposite side until there is a half inch gap between the two folded pieces.
Fold each side over again so that the ends meet in the middle, being careful not to stretch the dough and break it.
Flatten the formed dough with the palm of your hand, cut it in half, and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Scrape excess sugar into a bowl.
9. Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or tin foil. Remove dough from refrigerator and place it on a cutting board. Use a thin blade to slice the cookies into 1/2 inch slices.
Dip each slice in sugar before arranging it on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the rolled dough has been sliced, sugared, and arranged.
10. Bake the elephant ears until they have puffed and caramelized (about 10 – 15 minutes). Cool elephant ears before serving. Store in airtight container.