Window-shopping in food halls is one of my favorite things to do in France. I have long fallen under the spell of French gâteaux that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Sugar or cream coated, they glistened in the window of patisseries with the sweet promise of delighting my tastebuds. During my stay in Roanne, a few streets over, was the Gautheron Bakery. They offered a wide range of French pastries- éclairs, proliferoles, saint honores, fraisiers, palmiers, fruit tarts, croissants… I had to limit myself to two per day during tea-time (mostly because I wanted to save some room for the cheese platter at dinner =P) It wasn’t until my fourth or fifth visit, did I notice this plain-looking cookie…
Sablés, also known as French shortbread, are classic French cookies originating in Normandy France. The name ‘Sablés’ is French for “sand”, which refers to the sandy texture of this delicate and crumbly cookie. With its crispy exterior and cakey, tender interior, unlike its counterparts in patisserie, it has got a more subtle sort of elegance.
They were ridiculously easy to make and roll out; some of the easiest cookies I’ve made. These humble-looking treats are everything you’d want from a classic shortbread: crispy, crumbly, sweet, salty and sugary. They are delicious plain, but are also a blank canvas for experimentation, they can be sandwiched together with jam, chocolate ganache or our favorite Nutella!!!
Ingredients (yields 18 cookies):
70 grams unsalted butter (room temperature)
50 gram granulated sugar
Two eggs (room temperature) – reserve one for brushing the cookies
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
130 grams all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2) Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes) by a mixer. Add half the egg and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4) Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated.
5) Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough a few times to bring it together, and divide the dough in half. Then roll each half between two sheets of parchment or wax paper until it is about 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, smooth out any wrinkles.
6) Place the dough on a baking sheet (along with the parchment paper) and place in the refrigerator until cold and firm (about 45 minutes).
7) Once chilled, remove from refrigerator and peel off the top piece of parchment paper. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Place them on the prepared baking sheets.
8) Brush the tops of the cookies with the remaining egg. Make a crisscross pattern on the top of each cookie with the tine of the fork.
9) Bake the cookies for about 12 – 14 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.