Variations on a sable

At this point I must have half a dozen sable recipes scattered throughout TMH’s pages.  I just can’t help myself.  And, I have no intention of stopping.

When the Wall Street Journal published their mother recipe for sables in the Off Duty section just before the holidays I was on it like an otter on an oyster.

I had some leftover candied orange peel and ginger from my own holiday baking and decided to throw them in.

As a category, sables are a lesson in simplicity.  Just four ingredients: butter, sugar, flour and salt.  And this recipe my friends, is the closest I’ve come to the golden quadrangle.

Slightly sweet, crumbly and while delicious plain, just asking for fun and unique combinations.

If you decide to fancy-up your sables, you’ll need about 3/4 to 1 cup of goodies.  Need some ideas?  How about:

  • Any kind of freeze dried fruit, chopped (Trader Joes is a great source)
  • Citrus zest: lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange
  • Herbs: fresh mint, rosemary, thyme, lavender (as a note–start with 1 TBS chopped and go from there).  If you are going to herbs, a good way to further infuse flavor is to measure out your sugar and add it and your herbs to a ziplock bag.  Let “steep” for at least an hour.
  • Chocolate: any kind.  Chop it up and add it in
  • Teas: Chai, Earl Grey and fruity teas work well.  Depending on how strong you want the flavor,  start with a teaspoon and go from there
  • Candied fruit

Master Sable Recipe

The Wall Street Journal

makes 24 cookies

note–this recipe doubles very well

Ingredients

  • 11 TBS (1 stick plus 3 TBS) unsalted butter at room temp (use good quality here with high fat content like Plugra)
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
  • 1 3/4 C all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 C sanding sugar, turbanado or Demarara for rolling
  • 1 C total mix-ins of choice

Directions

  1. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and whipped, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Add salt and beat to combine.
  3. Add flour and beat until almost all flour disappears into the dough.  Finish by giving the dough a few good folds with a rubber spatula.  The dough will be crumbly.
  4. Divide dough in half (I use the food scale here but eye balling works).  Gently coax first half into a general log shape.  Set the log on to parchment paper and roll it back and forth until you have an even log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and 8ish inches long.  Set aside and repeat with other log.
  5. Sprinkle the sanding/decorating sugar onto your parchment and gently roll each log until the surface is completely coated.
  6. Roll each log individually in either plastic wrap or parchment.  As a note, I first roll the log in a sheet of parchment, then place in a paper-towel roll and THEN wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap.  Rolls can now be frozen for up to two months.  They can also be baked from frozen but I prefer to move them to the fridge a couple of hours before I want to bake, I think they cut more nicely.
  7. When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds in the oven.  Line baking sheets with parchment.
  8. Remove parchment/paper towel/plastic wrap from logs.  Using a sharp knife, cut into 3/8 inch disks.  Arrange cookies on baking sheets with about an inch in-between (the sables will not spread).
  9. Bake for 18-21 minutes rotating sheets halfway through and until sables are lightly toasted.  Let stand for 1-2 minutes then slide the parchment off the pan and onto a heat-proof surface.  Allow cookies to cool completely before removing from parchment.
  10. These freeze well.

Chocolate Licorice Brownie Cookies

Hey, hey, hey wait a second.  Give this a chance before you run away screaming.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve made every cookie out there.  Were I enterprising, the next step would be to work out my own original recipes.  Alas, that will have to wait until my brain is less stuffed with other, more important things (eg whether our bathtub is big enough to keep a pet otter happy and, when I get a pet otter, what I will name it).

So, when I came across a recipe for salty black licorice brownie cookies by Charli Nowak over on Food 52, I was over on Amazon ordering ingredients before I’d even finished reading the article.

Now, I know what you are thinking–adding chocolate to black licorice is like putting lipstick on a pig.  But, stick with me. Something cool happens when you mix the earthy, herbal flavors of anise and licorice root with the smoky sweet flavors of deep dark chocolate.

I’ll admit, my own pump for licorice and chocolate were primed before I saw the recipe.  I’ve been thinking about creating an All Sorts French macaroon for a few months.  If you are a fan of these licorice candies paired with a host of flavors and stacked into colorful little blocks, you already know that chocolate and licorice are good friends.

These cookies are indulgent and immensely satisfying.  They’re deeply chocolate with enough je ne sais quoi to make them sophisticated and dare I say, sexy. Think Valentine’s Day worthy.

Still not convinced?  I’ve got you covered.

In the name of research, I offered up a couple to TD without mentioning the unusual ingredients.  TD is squarely in the no black jelly bean camp.

The verdict?  He was a big fan.

When I asked if he could identify the secret ingredients he guessed chocolate.

Did you know TD is the Latin abbreviation for Captain Obvious?

I ordered my licorice root powder and ground anise from Amazon in larger quantities because, as I mentioned, I have bigger plans for these flavors.  However, you should be able to find them at a spice shop like Penzy’s.  Or, if you live close and want to make these, let me know and I’ll share my stash.

Salty Black Licorice Brownie Cookies

adapted just a bit from Charli Nowak for Food 52

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces 60% dark chocolate chips
  • 2 TBS water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (1/4 pound or 8 TBS) unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 3 TBS black cocoa powder (or Dutch-processed cocoa powder)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBS licorice root powder (available in specialty spice stores)
  • 2 tsp ground anise
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (plus more or flaky salt for sprinkling on top)
  • optional: 6 ounces mini chocolate chips or finely chopped dark chocolate bits optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line 4 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. Place butter in a small pot over medium heat and begin melting. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until butter begins to brown and smell nutty. Immediately pour over chocolate mixture and stir until completely melted. Set aside.
  3. To the hot, melted butter, add chocolate, water, and vanilla extract.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes and then whisk until smooth.
  4. Place eggs and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed for 7 minutes until eggs are pale and ribbony.
  5. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, licorice root power, anise, and salt. Set aside.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add melted chocolate mixture. Once combined, add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.
  7. Gently fold in chocolate chips
  8. Using your choice of scoop size (I used my favorite 1 1/2 TBS size, the original recipe called for a 3 TBS scoop), portion batter onto prepared trays leaving two inches between each. Sprinkle tops with flaky salt and bake until puffed and crackly, about 11 minutes. Remove from oven, give the tray a good smack against the counter, and let cool for at least 20 minutes.