Perfect Elephant Ears
Author: Nick Maglieri
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 30 mins
These crisp, caramelized pastries go by many names — elephant ears, palmiers, pig's ears, butterflies, palm leaves and even glasses. Regardless of what you call them, they are addictive. Layers of flakey puff pastry infused with sugar make these irresistible. Bet you can't eat just one.
  • 12 ounces prepared all-butter puff pastry (or ¼ batch of Malgieri's Instant Puff Pastry)
  • ¾ cup sugar for rolling the dough
  1. Line 2 jelly rolls with parchment or foil.
  2. Sprinkle the dough and work surface with about half the sugar and press the dough to soften it, turning it 90 degrees and continuing to press until the dough is soft enough to roll. Keeping the work surface covered with sugar, rolled the dough into an 8 x 12-inch (20 x 30 cm) rectangle.
  3. Trim the edges of the dough to be even, if necessary. Fold in each of the 12-inch (30-cm) sides of the dough a little less than halfway toward the middle, a little more than 1½ (1-cm) inches.
  4. Repeat folding each edge in toward the middle–there should now be about a ½-inch gap between the 2 folded pieces of dough. Fold over along the gap to make a long, narrow rectangle closed on one of the long sides like the spine of the book and opened on the other. Do not stretch the dough in the gap, which will cause the ears to open while they are baking.
  5. Used the palm of your hand to slightly flatten the formed piece of dough. Cut it in half, wrap each half in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Scrape any sugar remaining on the work surface into a bowl to use after the ears are cut.
  6. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F (190°C).
  7. Remove one of the pieces of dough from the refrigerator and place it on a cutting board. Use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to cut the ears crosswise into ½-inch (1 cm) thick slices. Dip the cut sides in the reserved sugar and place them cut side down on the prepared pan. If you want to take all of the elephant ears on the same day, cut the 2nd piece of dough and arrange it on another pan, but bake only one pan at a time.
  8. Bake the elephant ears until they have expanded and puffed and the sugar has caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove individual elephant ears as they are finished, as some many burn before others are baked through. Cool the elephant ears on a rack–the "public side" is the one that his baked against the pan.
From The Modern Baker: Time-Saving Techniques for Breads, Tarts, Pies, Cakes and Cookies by Nick Malgieri. Published by DK Publishing 2011

These are always best on the day they are baked, but you can refrigerate or freeze the formed length of dough–some of the sugar will melt, but I have never noticed this is made any difference in the baked pastries. Please resist the temptation to add cinnamon, cocoa, or anything else to the sugar pay. It would ruin the delicacy of the buttery caramel.

Storage: Store leftovers between sheets of waxed paper in a tin or plastic container with a tight fitting lid.
Recipe by The Messy Baker at