Latkes, Dreidels, Gelt… and Blue Palmiers

Chanukah 2009

Candles were lit on the menorah and prayers were sung. Potato latkes were dipped in apple sauce and then devoured. Dreidels were spun and M&M’s won. Gold foil wrappers were peeled off  thin milk chocolate gelt (coins), the chocolate inevitably getting stuck under fingernails. Wrapping paper was torn, presents revealed. Friday night December 11th was the first night of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, and we did each one of those things.  Best of all is that we get to do it 8 nights in a row!  You can get a fun, brief overview of  the holiday and those traditions here, where I realized that Chanukah is in fact very Swiss-friendly – Latke, meet Rösti! And hello milk chocolate, there’s plenty of that here too!

Chanukah 2009Chanukah 2009Chanukah 2009Chanukah 2009

As much as I love tradition, and making the same recipes for various holidays, I also love to add something new to the mix. That’s how I ended up with sweet and chewy fig pistachio nougat for Rosh Hashanah, and how we each enjoyed an individual warm chestnut cake for Thanksgiving. For Chanukah, we of course had typically greasy fingers from fried donuts, as food fried in oil is central to this holiday’s culinary symbolism.  (We remember the miracle when oil to last just one day burned for eight days instead.) But we also enjoyed a delectably buttery treat too! Palmiers it was, also called elephant ears (recipe below).

You may recall reading about my true love that was the palmier from La Bonbonnerie de Buci in Paris. Sad news (and shocking to me) was that it recently closed. I’ve been thinking about those huge pastries ever since I found myself in front of their empty pastry shop window and my chin fell to the ground. Why not make my own?! And make them… blue!  Blue is for the color of the Israeli flag that many people now associate with Chanukah. They are deceptively simple and fast to make.  I used blue sugar, but will be making them more often and experimenting with different fruit jams or other fillings.  I have even seen savory palmiers too.  I’m sure a quick search online will find tons of variations. Try them, and let me know how it goes!

Blue palmer for ChanukahBlue palmer for ChanukahBlue palmer for ChanukahBlue palmer for ChanukahBlue palmer for ChanukahBlue palmer for Chanukah

With Chanukah lasting eight days and nights, you’ve got plenty of time to learn about the holiday, try new recipes and play in the kitchen. Below are a handful of links that have recently caught my eye. Be sure to share links for recipes and articles that caught your eye too.
* Smitten Kitchen’s Latkes (potato pancakes)
* Slashfood on Why Latkes?Good question!
* Bon Appétit’s Cumin-Scented Beet Latkes
* The Jew and the Carrot’s Parsnip Carrot Latkes
* Johns-Hopkins Newsletter takes on Latkes vs. Hamantaschen
* Food Bridge’s Cauliflower Fritters
* epicurious’ Sufganiyot (Israeli Jelly Doughnuts)
* Le Pétrin’s Beignetsen francais
* Mélanger’s Rugelach Macarons
* And last but not least, a Cupcake Menorah on King Arthur Flour ~ Baker’s Banter

To all who are celebrating, I wish you a very happy, healthy and oily Chanukah!

Chanukah 2009

Mini Palmier

Puff pastry* / pâte feuilletée
Egg yolk

Cut out a clean rectangle from your cold pastry and lay on a large sheet of parchment paper. Don’t throw away the scraps as you can reuse them later, simply rewrap and place in refrigerator or freezer until ready. With an 8″ x 12″ pastry, sprinkle about 1/4 cup of sugar over the top, and lightly press it into the dough with your fingers. You can use a rolling pin to do this as well. Place another sheet of parchment paper on top and flip over to do the same to the other side, again with 1/4 cup of sugar.

Carefully fold the left side of the pastry in to the center and press flat. Do the same with the right side so they meet in the middle with a small space between the two. Repeat this one more time. Press down lightly to compress. Brush one side with an egg yolk (binding agent) and fold the other side on top of it. Give one last pat down with your hand or rolling pin. Wrap in plastic and chill for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove pastry from refrigerator and cut 1/4″ thick slices. Having a ruler handy makes things easier. Place on cookie sheet, cut side up, with plenty of space between as they will puff up. Bake for 10-11 minutes until the palmiers start to golden and remove from oven. Flip palmiers over and return to oven for another 2-3 minutes to caramelize the tops.

Tip: your first time making palmier? Here are step by step instructions with photos that make the process extremely easy to understand.

* Two great resources for making your own puff pastry: here and here.  Store bought puff pastry works wonderfully though too.

18 Responses to “Latkes, Dreidels, Gelt… and Blue Palmiers”

  1. Tweets that mention Latkes, Dreidels, Gelt? and Blue Palmiers | MyKugelhopf -- says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Travel News, Kerrin Rousset. Kerrin Rousset said: [new blog post] Latkes, Dreidels, Gelt? and Blue Palmiers […]

  2. Jamie says:

    Oh these are fabulous and they came out perfect! You have put me in the holiday Hanukkah spirit now more than ever! And thanks for the great Hanukkah recipe links.

  3. Nic says:

    How beautiful are these? The colour is amazing!
    Happy Hanukkah to you!

  4. bethany says:

    I’ve been wanting to try out the latkes and now I have a reason and some recipe links. Oh how I’d like a bite of that palmier right now!

  5. Steve says:

    I love your little Chanukah corner. So cool. But i also love your attention to detail, like including getting chocolate under your fingernails when open the chocolate gelt. I don’t think i’ve ever opened one without that happening. So funny. And how on earth did you figure out how to get the blue design on the palmiers to come out so symmetrical? A very happy, healthy and prosperous Chanukah to everyone and their families.

  6. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Love the blue palmiers. Such a great idea. 🙂 And your menorah is lovely. The detail at the bottom is sweet. Do you have all blue candles, too? And real Hanukkah gelt!!! 😉 So presents for each day as well? Great round up of Hanukkah treats – sure love Latkes!

  7. Mom says:

    I truly love your Chanukah post! Love the way that you really believe in holding on to tradition but always give it a bit of kick! A new generation! Palmiers are fantastic. They are my favorite treat in Paris and yes I am really sorry that the Bonbonnaire du Buci closed…how could they? Your Chanukah corner is full of all the wonderful things about the holiday. I do remember when you were a kid ….the opening of the “gelt”! Sticky fingers but loving the milk chocolate. Now you are a dark chocolate kid! Opening gifts every night is a treat! The excitement is fantastic. Wishing you and Olivier a wonderful, happy and healthy Chanukah and to all your readers too.

  8. Rosa says:

    Happy Hanukkah! I love your decorations and pretty palmiers!



  9. Stacey says:

    Your image and description are simply beautiful. Have a lovely holiday season.

  10. Meeta says:

    oh funky colored palmiers. love the post and reading about the way you spent menorah! wishing you a happy hanukkah kerrin!

  11. Sam says:

    I agree with the previous post. That is really funny about getting chocolate under your fingernails. I never thought about it but its totally unavoidable. Love your little Hanukah corner too! Maybe next year in New York!


  12. Kerrin says:

    Thanks everyone for the fabulous Chanukah wishes ! I’ll have a few bites of those palmiers for you all !

    Steve and Sam, the chocolate gelt getting under your fingernails – unavoidable. Might as well accept it as a tradition in itself, no ?!

    Oh and Steve, about getting the blue design symmetrical, it’s all in the folding. Hence my recommendation to use a ruler ! 😉

    Julia, last year I had all blue and white candles, tall and slender. But this year they are shorter and multi-colored – the very ones I grew up with in fact. I found the same small blue box of candles at the Jewish Museum in Berlin that we used to get as kids at Hebrew School. So there’s also red and orange and yellow too, but my favorite is blue of course ! That was always part of the fun growing up, getting to choose what color candles for each night !

    Thanks Mom ! I knew you’d be upset about the pastry shop closing in Paris. I would always go there – to get them for YOU ! And yes, I am totally a dark chocolate girl now. But Chanukah gelt doesn’t count – I’ll always love those. 🙂 Ah, tradition…

  13. Aprille - The Muddled says:

    Happy Chanukah!! Have some latke for me!!!

  14. kelleynr says:

    We had Roesti the other night or as you call them latkes. So yummy! Actually, I just had a French version made with leaks and Gryere cheese for lunch. Double yummy! Happy Chanukah!

  15. Kerrin says:

    Aprille, thanks… and no problem ! 😉

    kelleynr, wow that sounds delicious – and a must try for me. Potato pancakes with leeks and Gruyere cheese, could be the new Chanukah dish ! Thanks for sharing.

  16. Laura says:

    Happy Chanukah, Kerrin! I love the blue and white palmiers . . . So clever!

  17. jkiel says:

    Happy Chanukah! I love the blue sugar!

  18. Sarah says:

    Happy Chanukah! What a pretty little Chanukah corner you have! Blue palmiers?
    Why not! they would be boring otherwise (they look a bit like hamsa)
    thanks for the mention

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