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Sables (French Butter Cookies) Tested Recipe

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Sables (French Butter Cookie) Recipe

Sables, also known as a French Butter Cookie or Breton Biscuit, is a classic French cookie originating in Normandy France. The name 'Sables' is French for "sand", which refers to the sandy texture of this delicate and crumbly shortbread-like cookie. The traditional shape is round with fluted edges and the tops of the cookies are usually brushed with an egg wash to give them a shiny appearance. The finishing touch, which makes them instantly recognizable, is to score a criss-cross pattern on the top of each cookie.

 

The flavor of French Butter Cookies is dependent on the quality of your ingredients, especially the butter and vanilla extract. Butter is what gives these cookies their wonderful flavor so use the best you can afford. There are also many European-style butters on the market today which you may want to try as their flavors and textures are wonderful. Butter in the States is graded according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body and one easy way to tell the quality of the butter is by the letter code or numerical number listed on the butter's package. The highest grade is AA (93 score), then A (92 score), followed by B (90 score).  I know that buying vanilla extract can also be a challenge as there are so many choices. The first thing to do is to make sure that it is labeled "pure". The best I have found, although it is quite expensive, is Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract or Vanilla Paste that can be found in specialty food stores and by mail order. If your budget doesn't allow this expenditure or you cannot find it, don't worry, there are quality brands to be found in your local grocery store. Just stay away from the ones labeled "imitation" vanilla extracts as they are made with synthetic vanilla (from glycoside found in the sapwood of certain conifers or from coal extracts) and leave a bitter aftertaste. 

These cookies are delicious plain, but they can also be flavored with ground nuts or zests and they can even be sandwiched together with jam or preserves, chocolate ganache, or lemon curd.

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Sables: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until blended. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat just until incorporated. Do not over mix the dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, knead the dough a few times to bring it together, and then divide the dough in half.  Wrap each half in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least an hour). 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove one portion of the dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface.  Roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch (1 cm) thick.  Using a lightly floured 2 inch (5 cm) round fluted cookie cutter, cut out the cookies, placing them on the prepared sheet.  Place the baking sheet of cut out cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 -20 minutes to chill the dough.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the egg with the water for the egg wash.  Remove the cookies from the refrigerator and brush the tops with the egg wash.  Then, with the tines of a fork (or I like to use the end of a toothpick), make a crisscross pattern on the top of each cookie.  Bake cookies in the preheated oven for about 12 - 14 minutes (depending on size of cookie) or until golden brown around the edges. 

Cool cookies on wire rack. Store in an airtight container for up to a week. 

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Adapted from:

Le Cordon Bleu, "Cookies (Le Cordon Bleu Home Collection)". Periplus Editions. 1999.

 

Sables:

10 tablespoons (140 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups (260 grams) all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Egg Wash:

1 large egg

1 tablespoon water

 

 
 
     
 

 

 

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