While living in California, I discovered that people there drop in on you. This came as a surprise to me, though certainly a huge incentive to always have a presentable house. I quickly learned to always have ready made puff pastry in the freezer (one of the few ready made products that I stock) so many incarnations of these grissini/palmiers have been made over the years to serve to unexpected visitors along with a glass of wine. By now however, this has become a family tradition so I trot some variation out for the holidays each year. This year I made Parmesan, caraway seed and smoked paprika Grissini hence the recipe below.
Buy the very best quality puff pastry that you can as this really will make a difference. I have given alternative filling ideas below in order that you have some options but my favorites are either this recipe for Grissini, or a mix of Parmesan, anchovy and fennel seeds with the dough folded into Palmiers.
Last but not least, though this is a long post because the steps are difficult to explain, it is actually a very easy and painless process to complete and you will always get kudos because non-cooks think you have labored tirelessly over a hot stove. I would bet money on this becoming part of your holiday/cocktail party/pre-dinner party drinks repertoire.
Makes about 12-16 Grissini or Palmiers
1 sheet best quality puff pastry dough, thawed. Monitor this carefully as you want it thawed but not room temperature - this will make the dough sticky. If it is sticky then put it in the fridge for 10 minutes before attempting to use the rolling pin.
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
Preheat oven to 425.
Place the puff pastry dough on a floured board. Flour a rolling pin and roll out the puff pastry. At this point I often flip the pastry over so that both sides get floured and I have a better chance of the pastry not sticking to the board.
Sprinkle evenly with the filling ingredients.
Though I am a one photo per post kind of a girl, I have borrowed a photo below from Epicurious.com to illustrate the Palmier process. Add half of the filling at steps 1 and 2 first fold. This is simple to execute but difficult to explain in writing. For Grissini, just cut the dough into thin strips, sprinkle with the filling and then twist multiple times into a curly queue shape.
For Grissini - Bake for 18-20 minutes on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
For Palmiers - Bake for 10-12 minutes. Flip the Palmiers over (a spatula is your best bet) and cook for another 5-7 minutes until puffy and golden. You will know they are done when the most central fold looks like flaky pastry rather than uncooked dough. Keep an eye on the palmiers during the final 2-5 minute cooking period as they go from delicious and golden to crisp and burned in a matter of seconds.
Allow to cool on a rack and serve with wine, Champagne or your cocktail of choice.
Alternative filling Ideas that I have made over the years:
Chopped preserved lemon, Italian parsley and Halloumi cheese
Pesto and lemon zest
Feta and rosemary
Tapenade and goat cheese
Grated Gruyère cheese and crumbled bacon
Chopped smoked salmon and dill
Sea salt, goat's cheese and chopped herbs
Blue cheese and chopped dates
Onion marmalade and Camembert
Pâté de foie gras and cranberry relish
Diced Chorizo and chilis in adobo sauce
Sugar and cinnamon
As illustrated above in the Palmiers photo from last Christmas, chopped basil, brined green peppercorns, chopped anchovies and Parmesan
The possibilities are endless!