Friday, August 10, 2012

Spiral Jam Palmiers

Yesterday, my boys and I went to the county fair.  The excitement in the car was almost tangible as we drove closer and the boys could see the ferris wheel spinning in the distance.  We couldn't get out of the car and to the ticket booth fast enough for them.  What made it even better was that we had friends waiting for us to share in the fun- my oldest's best buddy from school and his family.

With wristbands purchased, we set out for the rides.  The biggest problem? Where to start first.  My little one was ready to jump on the first bumper car he saw and his big brother would have happily ridden every kiddie ride along with him.  But his buddy, the seven year old daredevil that he is, wanted to hitch a ride on the swinging pirate ship or spin upside down if at all possible.  And he wanted my son to go along.  For a few moments, he forgot he was supposed to be having fun and started getting upset, nervous, and fearful.  Very fearful.  It took a lot of convincing to get him to shake his nerves and get on that pirate ship, but he did it.  Though he looked like he wanted to jump off the ride the moment it started swinging, he made it through and I was very proud of him for taking the chance.
Standing there, in front of the swinging pirate ship, talking my son into trying to conquer his fears, I realized a few things.  Not only about him, but about myself.  Having children is one of the greatest blessings one can have, but at some point you start to see yourself reflected in them- for better or worse.  In their personalities, their choices, or their mannerisms, you've managed to create a little version of yourself in some way.  My oldest shares with me my calm demeanor, my ability to get along with all sorts of people, and my love of reading, but darn-it-all, he also inherited my fears.  It is so hard to see those traits you can't stand about yourself reflected right back at you in your children.
At that moment, I realized the only thing I can do is to try and give him the tools to deal with his fears.  Tools I wish I had as a child and that I still haven't mastered as an adult.  To push past those fears and try new things with the knowledge that not only are failure or embarrassment options, but success, happiness and pride as possibilities as well.  I can only hope that as those moments arise in the future, that instead of allowing him to give in to his fears, I can teach my son to be fearless.  And in the process, perhaps he can teach me to be fearless too.

So in the spirit of being fearless, I've started a business with my sister.  I'm offering the handmade jams and preserves that I've come to love making (partly as a result of writing this blog) for sale in our Etsy shop, DuTill & Daughters.  It's exciting and daunting at the same time.  And there's fear, big time fear.  Will people be willing to pay for my creations?  Will we be successful?  All I can do is follow the advice I gave my son and give it a try.  Because who knows what the outcome could be?  Perhaps from the fear will come happiness and joy.
These palmiers were made using one of the jams from my new shop, white tea peach preserves.  My Mom used to make a similar cookie using blackberry jam.  I think you could use just about any jam you love and the results would be delicious.  With a cup of tea or coffee, you'll feel like you're at the fanciest of French patisseries.

Spiral Jam Palmiers
Makes about 12 5-inch cookies.  Adapted from Martha Stewart and my Mom.
For a printable version, click here.

Warning- making these cookies is a messy job.  But the end results are SO worth it!

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (from one package), thawed
about 1/4 cup your favorite jam or preserves
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating work surface
1 to 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional- depends on the jam you choose and if the flavors would work well)

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper.  Place the sheets of puff pastry side by side on the parchment.  Press together at the seam.  Roll the pastry out with a rolling pin to create an 11 x 20 inch rectangle.  Transfer the parchment to a baking tray, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, stir together the two sugars and cinnamon (if using).  Remove the pastry from the refrigerator.  Spread the jam in a thin layer over the pastry- you want to cover the whole sheet to the edges.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the jam.  Starting with the short side and using the parchment to help you, roll the pastry into a log.  Wrap the roll tightly in the parchment paper and freeze the roll until firm, about 20 minutes.

Cut the firm dough crosswise into 1 inch slices.  Generously sprinkle granulated sugar over the work surface and turn a dough slice over in the sugar to coat both sides.  Roll each slice out into a (roughly) 5 inch circle, sprinkling more sugar over the top as needed.  This part of the job is messy- the jam will leak out a bit as the slices are rolled.  Don't worry, they'll turn out just fine.  Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate to firm up while you preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, 14-16 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through.  Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet before peeling off.

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