Sables Bretons

Butter is my favorite food.  Not kidding.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten it on its own (though I’ve been tempted); but it does make just about anything better.  Especially butter cookies. Especially, especially French butter cookies.

I made my first batch of sables Breton years and year ago after TD and I returned from France.  Brittany the region in the Northwest corner of the country, is famous for its high fat, ultra rich butter.  Enough years have passed since that trip that I am no longer embarrassed by how many of these cookies I ate while there.  These French biscuits are everything I want in a cookie: simple, just barely sweet and sandy in texture.

The sandy element is incredibly important: sable is French for sand.  And, made possible by the letter B for butter.  The first recipe I used was from Martha Stewart.  I made that recipe several times and then drifted away over the years.  As one does.

When I came across David Lebovitz’s recipe, I was reminded of our early fall trip to Bayeux and immediately pulled the butter from the freezer.

These cookies are known for the deep criss-cross pattern on the tops.  I made this batch over the course of a weekend and chilled them after cutting them into circles but before adding the cross hatching.  Cold butter doesn’t make for easy criss crosses and I did not press hard enough.  Do as I say, not as I do.

While butter is the front and center flavor in this cookie, the salt is equally important, so use the good stuff.

The uniformity in shape of these crumbly cookies make them lovely as gifts packaged up in a clear bag with some red and blue ribbon (think Bastille Day or Fourth of July).

Sables Bretons

by David Lebovitz (adapted just slightly by TMH)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 C (5.2 ounces, 150g) high quality high fat butter at room temp (I like Plugra but for best results, David Lebovitz recommends a cultured butter)
  • 2 tsps flaky sea salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 C (200g) sugar
  • 1 3/4 C (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt together on low speed until smooth (about 30 seconds).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, gradually adding the sugar while whisking until the yolks are light and fluffy–about a minute.  With the mixer on low, add the egg yolk mixture to the butter, stopping the mixer to scrape down any butter clinging to the sides.  Mix until everything is incorporated.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Stir into creamed butter mixture until it’s just, but completely, incorporated.
  4. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inh thick.  Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour (dough can be made up to five days in advance and stored in the fridge).
  5. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut the rectangle of chilled dough in half and place the first half between two pieces of parchment.  Roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch thickness.  Using a 2-3 inch cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough.  Place them on the prepared baking sheet.  Set aside scraps and repeat with second half of dough.  Once you have completed the first layer of cut-out circles, top with two sheet of parchment and start with the second. Top circles with another piece of parchment and into the fridge for another 15 minutes.
  6. Gather your scraps.  Roll again between pieces of parchment.  If dough is still cold enough, cut out more circles.  If not, pop in fridge until cold.  Repeat process until all dough is used.
  7. Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Adjust oven rack to middle of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment.  You want to bake-off cookies one sheet at-a-time.
  8. Beat an egg with 1 tsp water.  Place first round of dough circle on pan leaving a couple of inches in between each.  Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash then use a fork to cross hatch a pattern on the top of the cookies.
  9. Bake the cookies until the tops are golden brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through, about 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.
  10. Repeat with dough until all cookies are baked.

 

Paprika Peanut Butter Cookies

Move over chocolate, peanut butter has a new love interest and her name is smoked paprika.

You read that right.  Paprika.

When you think about it, pairing peanut butter with earthy, slightly spicy paprika makes a whole lot of sense.  Think of how much better peanut butter is on toast than just plain bread (toasty and smoky are similar…just go with it).  Now, add a little heat.  And to that, think of the sandy, crumbly texture of a perfect peanut butter cookie.  You picking up what I’m putting down here?

This recipe incorporates smoked paprika is both the dough and on top.

The overall effect is pretty perfect.  I found this recipe through David Lebovitz who came across the original recipe in the book Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski.

Since I’ve been baking for a million years and new things are what keep me going, I’m always on the hunt for new flavors.  Sometimes flavor combinations aren’t meant to be (I’m thinking of the holiday 2012 pink peppercorn and white chocolate sables…ew).  Others you think, ‘where have you been all my life?’  These smoked paprika and peanut butter cookies are definitely the latter.

P.S. Lest you feel bad for chocolate’s new rival, I dare you to make these, throw in some dark chocolate chunks and call it a threesome.

Peanut Butter Paprika Cookies

As seen on David Lebovitz’s blog and originated from  Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit

Ingredients

For the paprika topping
1 TBS turbinado or raw granulated sugar
1 TBS granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
Directions
  1. To make the cookie dough, in a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour with the baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp kosher or salt, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat the butter, peanut butter, and the light brown and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract, stopping the mixer between adding each egg to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl, as you’ll likely find some unincorporated flour underneath the dough.
  4. Scrape the dough into a shallow bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days (TMH: I scraped everything into a gallon size freezer ziplock patted into rectangle–evenly distributed, the dough chills more quickly and evenly). (Dough can be frozen for up to three months–scoop into balls first.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the turbinado and granulated sugar, paprika, and flaky sea salt.
  7. Scoop the dough into balls about (I like using a 1 1/2 TBS scooper). Roll each ball in the sugar and paprika mixture so it’s evenly coated, and place each on the baking sheet so they’re about 2 inches (5cm) apart.
  8. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway during baking, until they are golden brown across the top, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to gently tap the tops of each cookie to flatten them slightly, which makes them more attractive, and chewy when cool.