I like to think of these cookies as the homemade version of what you get in those little blue tins around this time of year. Yes, I know there’s an actual Danish cookie that those are modeled after (and I have the recipe in my Scandinavian book, just waiting for me to test!), but this is the first cookie I found and made and was transported to Danish Blue Tin Cookie Land.
As you can probably tell from their name, sablés are actually a French cookie, with a name meaning “sandy.” And sandy is a great way to describe the texture of these treats: sablés have a crispy texture that quickly melts in your mouth. Because it’s a type of shortbread cookie (and not a true sugar cookie), they’re also not terribly sweet, which is always a plus in my book.
I’ve made these a couple of different ways to ensure that sandy texture. The best recipe I used actually had me hard boil the egg in question to get a dry yolk (it prevented excess moisture from making the cookie too soft). Other recipes had me making a cookie dough similarly to how I made pie crust – cutting cold butter into sugar and flour to get that “sandy” texture.
While these recipes made great sablés, the difference in texture was not enough to make me go through the trouble of hard boiling an egg and peeling it every time, or pulling out a food processor or spending the extra energy with my pastry cutter. When you’re like me and also making batches and batches of cookies and treats throughout the year, you find ways to simplify your baking without compromising texture or flavor.
Today’s recipe does this – no hard-boiling, no cutting, no crazy equipment. Just one mixing bowl, some refrigeration time, and a short bake. The egg is still reduced to just its yolk to ensure the cookie crispness. It is a delightfully simple recipe that even allows you to make other shapes besides rounds, if you so choose, since the dough is similar to that of sugar cookie dough.
Fair warning, however – the higher butter-to-sugar ratio makes this dough a lot harder in the fridge or after thawing, so sablé dough is not quite as pliable as other rolled doughs. Still, other shapes are possible.
Mmm’kay, enough of that. Let’s make sablés part of your holiday cookie tray.
Merry Christmas and Happy Solstice, y’all!
Like shortbread and other treats with few ingredients, you want to make sure to get the best stuff you can get for best flavor and results. Feel free to make other shapes besides rounds!
you will need:
- 2 c all-purpose flour, sifted
- ½ tsp kosher or sea salt
- 1 c white sugar
- 1 c unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- turbinado or demerara sugar, for rolling and sprinkling
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium speed (or by hand) until light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes (longer if by hand). Gradually add the white sugar and salt, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Turn the speed to low, add the egg yolk and vanilla, and mix until thoroughly combined. Gradually add flour on low speed until just combined.
- Spoon dough out onto a clean workspace, and form the dough into a log about 1 foot long. Sprinkle about ¼ c of the demerara sugar onto a piece of parchment paper (one large enough to wrap the dough tightly) and place dough on top of the sugar. Sprinkle ¼ c more sugar on top of the dough, and roll gently to cover all sides (except the ends). Wrap the dough tightly in the parchment or other wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (2 is better) until firm.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2-3 baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
- Using a sharp knife, cut the dough log into ¼ inch rounds, rotating the log as necessary to prevent flat edges. Place dough rounds onto prepared baking sheets, about 1 ½ to 2 inches apart, and bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to brown. (The centers should still be pale).
- Remove the pans to wire racks, and allow the cookies to cool completely on the pans – this ensures their characteristic crispiness, as well as keeps their shape. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.