Sunday 11 March 2012

Remembering Sendai: Sakura Cherry Blossom & Lemon Palmiers

Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

I've always wanted to make palmiers.

These crispy buttery heart shaped cookies are oh so chic and call to my inner francophile.  So when it came time for our Baking for Hospice Summertime Round I knew I had to make Sakura Cherry Blossom & Lemon Palmiers.  Although technically the arrival of the blooming gorgeous cherry blossoms herald the start of spring rather than summer, it was the perfect excuse to use the bottle of Sakura or Cherry Blossom sugar that my brother's lovely girlfriend brought back for me from Japan.  Merci beaucoup!

I sat down this evening to post about these pretty palmiers and was just about to put fingers to keyboard when I heard over the news what day today was.  March 11, the one year anniversary of the devastating Sendai earthquake and tsunami.

{sakura sugar}
I remember the evening vividly.  It was the eve before my grandma's funeral and we were at the funeral home when we received news about the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami just the coast of Sendai.  An earthquake so powerful it shifted the earth off its axis and created a tsunami over 30m high.  It floored us, my brother especially.  My brother's girlfriend was living and teaching English in Sendai, the city that got the brunt of the tsunami.  Try as he might he couldn't get in touch with her.  My brother texted and called late into the night, his eyes never leaving the devastating footage on TV.  He stayed up all night watching the carnage unfold and eventually, in the early hours of the morning, he got finally through to Winsy.  She was safe.  Thank God.

But not everyone was so lucky.  So my heart, thoughts and prayers tonight go out to all those who one year on are still, recovering, grieving, and remembering.

{massive thank you to my cousin-in-law susy for these pretty as a picture cupcake wrappers xox}

Now about these cookies.

I can't even begin to describe how easy these are.  As easy as slice and bake cookies and the end result are delicate, dainty, delicious pastries.  Pretty pastry perfection. Oh you clever clever french pastry chefs. 

In fact, there are really only 2 ingredients in this recipe: puff pasty + flavoured sugar.  It's barely a recipe at all and open to an infinite number of variations.  Sure you can go nuts and make your own puff pastry but meh, I'm all for keeping things simple, stupid. 

I tasted the sakura sugar before baking with it and it was a delightful surprise.  It was salty sweet and ever so delicately floral.  It was delicious.  I added lemon zest to the cookies boost the floral notes but on baking the lemon and the sweetness ended up drowning out the cherry blossom flavour.  Gutted!

If I'm ever lucky enough to get my little hands on another bottle, I'd definitely use it as a coating after baking rather than bake with it.  Perhaps over doughnuts.  Mmm doughnuts.

As a bonus finding, when I ran out of sakura sugar, I switched to using cinnamon sugar instead and these were O for awesome.  I mean, what's not to love about flakey, crispy thin, buttery pastry with warming cinnamon sugar.

And did I mention they're heart shaped?  The little girl in me squealed with delight at the pretty little hearts and skipped over to put them on pretty teatowels and in pretty pink baking cups. 

{don't you just love this gorgeous teatowel. it's TPTU - too pretty to use}

A word of warning however,  be careful with your baking time, as it can vary depending on how thin you slice the cookies...I burnt a whole tray, mon dieu!

Cherry Blossom and Lemon Palmiers

makes around 90 cookies

4 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry (~750g, 24 cm x 24 cm)
1 cup Sakura Sugar  (around 1/4 cup sugar per sheet)
4 tsp lemon zest

For a cinnamon version: replace the sakura sugar and lemon zest with 1 cup white sugar and 2 Tbsp cinnamon (or 1/4 cup sugar + 2 tsp cinnamon per sheet).

1. Defrost the puff pastry sheets according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Preheat oven to 200oC.  Line two baking trays with baking paper. 

2. On a clean work surface sprinkle a little of the sakura sugar (around 1 Tablespoon) to cover the surface (I used a double layer of plastic wrap to work on.  It ended up being a godsend when it came to folding the pastry.)  Place a sheet of pastry over the sugar and sprinkle around 2 Tablespoons of the sugar on top of pastry and spread evenly.

3.  Fold the ends of the pasty towards the middle about an inch wide (see below) and give it a light once over with a rolling pin.  Repeat folding ends to the middle until the two sides touch and fold the pastry in half.

4. Cut the logs into 1 cm slices and place around 1 inch apart on your prepared sheets.  I teased open the cookies to get more of a heart shape going on. You might have to wrap and return the rest of log to the fridge as you are waiting for the trays to bake.

5. Bake at 200oC for 10 - 12 minutes turning halfway with a spatula.  Cool immediately on a wire rack.  Repeat with the next sheet of puff pastry.  (NB: Make sure the baking tray is completely cooled between batches before you put the pastry on and keep any pastry you are not using covered and in the fridge). Store palmiers in an airtight container for up to 3 days with a few sugar cubes to keep them nice and crispy although they are best the day they're made.


  1. A beautiful post and such lovely cookies.

  2. What a charming idea and image.

    I like palmiers with one side dipped in chocolate.Or iced with raspberry icing.

    Oh heck, any way at all really!

  3. These are really adorable! And what a shame about the Sakura sugar flavour getting lost.
    I think I might have to make some lemon ones for my future-sister-in-law's hen's party in a few weeks :)

  4. Lora: Thanks heaps Lora!

    Dale: Oooooo chocolate is a great idea - next time am gonna try with orange zest and dipped in dark choc. You've inspired me!

    Jagiri: Naw thanks lovely! I was super gutted you couldn't taste the sakura but I reckon lemon ones would be amazing!



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