Latkes, Dreidels, Gelt… and Blue Palmiers
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!
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!
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 Beignets – en 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!
Puff pastry* / pâte feuilletée
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.