Makes 2 to 3 dozen cookies.
Taste Tip: This recipe must be prepared in advance. Palmiers (pronounced pahlm-YAYs) go by many other names, including elephant ears, palm leaves and French hearts.
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup powdered sugar, plus extra for garnish, optional
1 (7-ounce) tube almond paste, cut into small pieces
½ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 (17.3-ounce) package puff pastry sheets (containing 2 sheets), refrigerated
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar and almond paste. Beat until creamy, about 1 minute. Add egg and almond extract, and beat until thoroughly combined.
Sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Carefully unfold 1 puff pastry sheet over sugar and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Using a rolling pin, roll puff pastry sheet into a 12-inch square. Divide almond paste mixture in half. Carefully spread half of almond paste mixture evenly over top of puff pastry sheet. Starting on both sides, roll opposite sides of puff pastry sheet, from the outer edge to the middle, with rolls meeting in the center. Firmly press together, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Repeat with second puff pastry sheet.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap puff pastry logs and, using a sharp knife, trim off uneven ends. Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and place (flat side down) 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.
2011 Finalist: Kay Lieberherr of St. Paul, Minnesota