When Ant and I lived in Rome, there was a little bakery on the corner that sold jumbo versions of these, and for me it was love at first bite! In Italian they are just referred to as "pastries" (just like half the other things in the case ; ) so for us they were just called Swirlies. I had never encountered them in the states before, so it was a few more years before I realized that most people here called them elephant ears. Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon them on Pinterest one day and realized just how easy they are to make!
Lots of granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of sugar over your workstation. Roll out the puff pastry to about 10X12 inches. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of sugar (and spices if using) over the dough.
Roll up the left vertical side inward, stopping in the middle of the dough. Roll up the right side of the dough. The two rolls should be meeting at the middle and touch. Press the two sides together gently and let the dough chill in the fridge for at least half an hour. Repeat with any more puff pastry you may have.
Starting at one end, cut off pieces of the log, in slices about 1/2 inch in thickness. Lightly sprinkle sugar onto each side. Pinch and press the sides of the two rolls together to ensure that they don't unroll during baking. Place on large parchment lined baking sheets, or a baking sheet lined with a Silpat. They will increase in size dramatically, so leave plenty of room between each cookie and only bake a dozen at a time.
Set the tray in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the sugar has caramelized. Allow them to cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.
They didn't turn out as good as the ones in Rome, but they were pretty yummy. A lot of the sugar seemed to "melt" right out of the dough though, so next time I'd probably try a large crystal decorator type sugar.
Wouldn't they be fun with different colored sugars?