I’m gonna stick with calling these Gluten Free Elephant Ears. They are “palmiers,” but I don’t think anyone wants to start trying to sound French. Or at least doesn’t want me to start trying to sound French. Truth.
A note about the pastry dough: elephant ears begin with puff pastry. They just do. It’s really exceeding easy to make puff pastry, and that link has step by step (by step) photos to guide you along the way. You can (and should!) make it way ahead of time, so the actual elephant ear making is dead easy. BUT. If you’re just all, ‘no WAY I’m doing all that turning and folding and butter packeting,” you can still make gluten free elephant ears! Just use the Extra Flaky Buttermilk Biscuit dough from page 227 of GFOAS Bakes Bread, or even the Gluten Free Biscuits from the blog.
Whatever you call ’em, these super light and flaky pastries are a real personal favorite of mine. Every once in a long while, I make something for the blog (or a book) that I don’t really care for. It happens! I don’t tell you that, though. How silly would that be? I just talk about someone else loves it, or about how I love making it for someone else or something. But these pastry cookies? The layers and the sweetness and the flakiness and did I mention the layers?
These are simply the perfect cookies for a cup of tea. With lemon, please.
You’ll find lots and lots of different methods out there for handling the pastry dough to make elephant ears. I don’t personally care for the ones where you rooooollllll the ends of the dough together toward the center, and end up with, like, kind of a handlebar mustache. I like the fold once, fold twice, fold together sort of deal (see photos above). And I insist upon pressing down on the cut, raw cookies with a glass to compress the layers a bit before the final chilling and, finally, baking. It creates a much more integrated cookie that stays together, but still becomes super flaky as it bakes.
And for the love of Mike, don’t skimp on the sugar. It helps keep the pastry tender, and caramelizes in the oven into the most gorgeous cookies the world has ever seen. —-> (Too much?)
*If you simply don’t want to go through all the “turns” and the butter packet and all that to make the real deal Gluten Free Puff Pastry, try using the Extra Flaky Buttermilk Biscuit dough from page 227 of GFOAS Bakes Bread, or even the Gluten Free Biscuits from the blog. The cookies won’t be quite as crazy layered and flaky, but they’ll still be flaky. And they’ll still have layers.
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper, and set aside.
Prepare the gluten free puff pastry according to the recipe instructions. There are full instructions, plus step by step photos, in that link. The puff pastry can be made up to 3 months ahead of time and frozen, then defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. It can also be made up to 4 days ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.
Mix the sugar and salt in a separate, medium-size bowl, until well-combined. Sprinkle 1/3 cup (67 g) of the sugar on a large, flat surface such as a large pastry board, cutting board or smooth countertop, and spread into an even, rectangular layer (about 14-inches x 16-inches in area). Place the chilled puff pastry dough on top of the sugar, sprinkle lightly with flour, and roll into a rectangle that is about 14-inches x 16-inches, and a bit more than 1/8-inch thick. Trim any irregular edges of the rectangle with a pastry cutter, pizza wheel or very sharp knife. Brush the entire top of the puff pastry rectangle with the egg white in a thin, even layer. Sprinkle another 1/3 cup (67 g) of the sugar on top of the puff pastry rectangle and spread into an even layer, and press down gently to help the sugar adhere to the dough. Gently fold each 16-inch side of the pastry rectangle 1/4 of the way toward the center (see photo). Fold the same sides again, another 1/4 of the way toward the center so that they meet in the middle (see photo). Finally, fold both edges of the now 8-inch rectangle along the center seam over one another, creating a 4-inch by 14-inch rectangle with 6 distinct layers of dough. Place the entire rectangle on the prepared baking sheet, and then in the freezer for 10 minutes or until firm.
Once the dough is firm, remove from the freezer and transfer the dough to a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, slice the dough by cross-section into 24 equal pieces, each about 1/2-inch wide. Dip both sides of each piece in the remaining 1/3 cup (67 g) of sugar, and then place on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart from one another. Press the flat bottom of a glass firmly and evenly onto the top of each of the cookies on the baking sheet to compress the layers by about 1/4. Place in the freezer for about 5 minutes, or until once again firm.
One at a time, place the baking sheets in the preheated oven for 9 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden brown on the underside. Working quickly, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and carefully flip each cookie over. Return to the oven and bake for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly golden brown on the second side. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Cookies will stay fresh for about 3 days if stored in a sealed glass container at room temperature. For longer storage, seal well in a freezer-safe container and freeze.