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Author Notes: I like to think of these as the best ever shortbread cookies with a crispy sugar-coated edge …cakelike in the center. The flavor is full of butter with a hint of saltiness. Just a hint. The sablé is by far the most popular cookie in all of France. Many variations may be found, but this is the basic cookie. I was totally inspired by Dorie Greenspan's recipe ...just tweaked it a bit here and there. If you want to switch it up, add lemon or orange zest. Or throw in some chopped roasted hazelnuts. Top them off with a few mini dark chocolate chips. Make them yours but first, give these basic beauties a try. You’ll be so glad you did.
I used Bob's Red Mill Sparkling Sugar for the cookie edges. It produces a wonderful effect. Also, any tinted sugar could be used, if so desired. Wrap a dozen or so in an attractive, reusable container and you have the perfect hostess gift.
Makes 36 cookies
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar (67 grams)
- 3 teaspoons vanilla paste or extract (or the pulp from 2 vanilla beans)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, preferably high-fat European-style, at room temperature (8 ounces)
- 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted (40 grams)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
- 1 large egg yolk (save egg white for edging)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour (272 grams)
Dough Roll Edging
- 1 egg white (saved from cookie dough recipe)
- sanding sugar (or granulated sugar)
- Place the granulated sugar in a small bowl. Add the vanilla extract or paste to the sugar. Alternatively, cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the seed pulp into the bowl. Using your fingers, rub them together until blended.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix the butter on low speed until smooth and creamy (you don’t want it to get light and fluffy - it's best not to add air to the dough), about 1 minute; mix in the salt. Add the vanilla sugar and the confectioners’ sugar and mix on low speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the egg yolk and mix for just 1 minute. Still on low speed or by hand, mix in the flour just until blended; the dough will be soft.
- Turn the dough out onto the counter and knead it gently a few times. Divide it in half and shape each half into a 9-inch log. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- Position oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner.
- Sprinkle about 1/2 cup sanding sugar onto a piece of waxed paper. Combine the reserved egg white with a splash of water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork. Brush each log with the egg wash and roll it in the sanding sugar until evenly coated, adding more sugar if necessary. Trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place them on the baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between rounds.
- Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheet position halfway through, until the cookies are very slightly brown around the edges and golden on the bottom, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes; then carefully transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely before serving. Sablés shouldn’t be eaten warm; they need to cool so that their texture will set properly.
- Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- FOR GLUTEN FREE: Replace the flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour.