I have a confession to make: I once tried out to be on reality television last year. More specifically, to be on Gordon Ramsey's MasterChef series (season 1).
It's actually quite uncharacteristic of me as I am cursed with the worst possible stage fright. Stuttering, clammy hands, tomato complexion—the whole nine yards. Just thinking about the experience gets my heart pumping at full speed.
However, I'm a devoted Gordon Ramsey fan. I was willing to battle my affliction for the slim chance of meeting the infamous chef and who knows, maybe even impressing him with my culinary creation! And so, on an early Sunday morning, I set out with my good friend to my first casting call at The Grove.
To enter, we had to fill out an application akin to the mammoth packets to apply for college as well as to create our signature dish in front of a panel of judges. Knowing there were no stoves nor refrigeration, I create a plate of cookies as my entry dish. A risk since everyone were preparing extravagant masterpieces.
The producers actually stopped when they walked by my station as I simply unwrapped my plate and said I was ready to present while everyone else scrambled to assemble their elaborate dishes. Looking back, I think they were a little miffed as they thought I didn't take their prompt seriously. However, I presented it as a dish that was uniquely me.
Merging the French palmier (my Francophile side coming out) with the goodness of bacon, it was the matrimony of the two loves of my life. I called it the Billionaire bacon Palmier.
In a way, it's like the perfect man of the cookie world. It combines the French sophistication of buttery pastry layers, the complexity of caramelized brown sugar, the manliness of smoky bacon and just the right amount of spice from the black pepper to keep things interesting. A wonderful blend of sweet, salty and spicy to keep you wanting just a little more. Best of all, he's, I mean, it's low maintenance too—the whole process got me in-and-out of the kitchen in no time.
Perhaps they thought I was crazy to describe a cookie in such depth or that they too saw the light after eating the palmiers (I hope it was the latter), I got the golden (green) ticket to go on to the next round!
Needless to say, I never got on to the show as I was cut after the third round (which involves a cooking video that will never see the light of day). However, it was worth it to see them cast the Housewives of Beverly Hills, not to mention it was a memorable month to say the least! Perhaps one day, I too can make a beef Wellington for Chef Ramsey…
Billionaire Bacon Palmiers
Yields 20 cookies and serves 5
1/2 package or 1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
1 cup brown sugar
2 thick slices of apple smoked bacon
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
First, render the bacon slices in a skillet on medium heat till golden brown and crispy. Drain the cooked bacon on paper towels and crumble to tiny pieces (the smaller the better) when cooled to the touch.
Next, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Unfold the sheet of thawed puff pastry on a clean work surface and sprinkle 1/2 cup of brown sugar evenly on top. Use a rolling pin to gently press the sugar into the dough.
Carefully flip the pastry over and scatter the crumbled bacon all over the top. Do the same with the black pepper. Take the remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar and sprinkle over evenly and lightly press the toppings in with the rolling pin.
Now comes the fun part! Roll the left vertical side to the center and then repeat with the right side. Gently press the two sides together and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate the pastry log for an hour or so till it's firm and thoroughly chilled. This step is imperative because it enables you to slice the palmiers easily later on and also ensures even baking.
Once the pastry is chilled, slice the log crosswise into 1/2 inch medallions. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet (silpat works wonders as well) with plenty of space in between as they will spread and expand in the oven.
Bake the palmiers for 8-10 minutes till they are golden brown on top. Flip the cookies over and bake for a 3-5 minutes longer till the bottom is caramelized as well. Let them cool for a short while and enjoy responsibly!