The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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July 5, 2015

Paris in July: Sablés

Since going to the beach, for me, has always been more about this...

than about this...

...a cookie which gets its name from the French word for 'sand' is very fitting, :)

This one is from Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi:  Recipes from my Paris home to your home anywhere, which I have been slowing dipping into. Like shortbread, buttery but a little crumbly, very easy to make, elegant, delicious. And verrry French ... Dorie writes that 'while the French have hundreds of cookies, half a hundred of them are based on the sablé.'

I'm not sure whether the sandy name comes from the texture {but in a good way, I promise},or from geography. According to the Marquise de Sévigné {whose letters I keep reading about, but can never find to read}, according to Wikepedia, the cookie was created in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, in the Loire Valley, far from the sand, in 1670.

So far, I have added chopped hazelnuts, chopped hazelnuts + lemon zest, and nothing to this basic recipe, and they were all good. Dorie also suggests adding orange zest, cocoa, other nuts, or warm spices to the batter. Like all of her recipes, this one has lots more to it {brilliant tips on how to roll the dough log smoothly, and what to do with the empty vanilla beans,  and information on how to store or freeze them, and the suggestion that though it's tempting to eat them warm from the oven, the texture will be better if you let them cool}. Your kitchen will smell wonderful while they are doing that, so it could be difficile. :)

Vanilla Bean Sablés
from Baking Chez Moi, by Dorie Greenspan
for about 36 cookies {I would say}

1/3 cup (67 grams) sugar
two moist, fragrant vanilla beans or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract {I used the extract, but definitely want to try them with the vanlla beans}
two sticks (8 ounces or 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup (40 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
one large egg yolk
2 cps (272 grams) all-purpose flour
. . .
another large egg yolk, blended with a splash of cold water {not too much!}
sanding sugar

Put the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or in a large mixing bowl if you're using a hand mixer. If you're using vanilla beans, split them the long way and scrape the seeds over the sugar. Using your fingertips, rub the vanilla seeds into the sugar until it's fragrant. (If you're using vanilla extract, you'll add it later.)

Add the butter {cut into several pieces}, the confectioners' sugar and the salt to the bowl and beat on low speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy {but you don't want it to become pale and fluffy, or add too much air to it}, scraping down the bowl as needed. Drop in the first egg yolk, beat for one minute, then if you're using vanilla extract, add it now.  Add the flour {Dorie says all at once, but this was very messy; I added half, mixed it in a little, then add the rest}. Pulse the mixer on and off to begin incorporating the flour into the dough.  Mix on low speed just until the flour has disappeared {or do this last little bit by hand with a flexible spatula}.  The important thing as you'll read, is not to overmix the dough.

Turn the dough out on a work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log about 9 inches long.Wrap the logs in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.

When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats {very French}. Spread the sanding sugar onto a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the logs with the egg-and-water glaze, then roll them in the sanding sugar, covering them evenly. Trim the ends off the logs if they are raggedy, then slice each log into half-inch thick rounds.  Place them on the baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

Bake the cookies for about 18 to 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheet(s) halfway through {side-to-side, and top rack to bottom rack, if you're baking both at the same time}. The cookies should be golden brown around the edges and lightly golden on the bottom.  Let them sit on the parchment for a few minutes {they're fragile when they're hot}, then transfer them carefully to cooling racks to cool completely. As noted above, Dorie writes that 'These really shouldn't be eaten warm; they need time to cool so that their texture will set properly.'

{The paintings, by Edward Henry Potthast (top) and Isaac Israels, found here.}


JoAnn said...

Wish I could pull up a pot of tea and join you!!

The paintings are gorgeous. If anyone looks for me on the beach, they know to scan the umbrellas first - I'm always in the shade with a book :)

Karen K. said...

Great paintings! And if it weren't so darn hot here, I'd be pulling out the mixer to try this recipe. Sounds perfect with a pot of tea and a good book!

Paulita said...

I love that you found paintings to illustrate. The biscuit sounds yummy, but I'm dieting so I'd better make a note of the recipe for a future date.

Nadia A said...

I love the paintings! And those cookies look and sound delicious. Thanks for the recipe :)

Esme said...

This is such a clever post. I must confess I love both reading and swimming at the beach. Have a good day.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I'm with you on the beach! Love the recipe and beautiful photo of the cookies.

Here's my Paris in July post!

Mae Travels said...

The "Joy of baking" site says "The name 'Sablés' is French for "sand", which refers to the sandy texture of this delicate and crumbly cookie." That's what I always heard too, though I never thought they felt THAT sandy. Your choice is really nice: I think of them as really typically French.

Jennifer Hartling said...

Oh my word. Those are the perfect cookies for me. Yum! :D

Maggie said...

Lovely paintings, such a nostalgic feel of a bygone age. My local patisserie has melt in the mouth sables, which I could never replicate in my own kitchen, a small indulgence to enjoy now and again.
Maggie @ Normandy Life

Arabella said...

Love the images and I am so with you about what to do at the beach! I have filed the recipe to try later. Great post!

Tamara said...

Oh, I cant believe I missed this post earlier - It's just lovely - in so many ways. Those cookies look super! thankyou for sharing this pieve with us.

Thank you for visiting!

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