When I attended the Piglet Party, I tasted Dorie Greenspan’s chocolate sables and fell in love. Chocolaty, crispy and not too sweet, they were absolutely addictive. (And they were shaped like pigs!) I’ve been wanting to make sables, and there are two recipes in The Essential New York Times Cookbook for them: one by Dorie Greenspan, and one by Pierre Herme. To make these, I adapted both recipes. Dorie’s instructions are impeccable, and I loved Pierre’s idea of using brown sugar with all the warm spices. The dough has to be refrigerated for a couple of hours at least, and I think it's best when refrigerated overnight—the flavors seem to meld together better. If possible, use fresh-ground spices, but one of the great things about cookies is that you can make them on the spur of the moment with what you have in the house—so if you have pre-ground allspice or cinnamon, etc., it’s OK to use that—just make sure the spices are really fresh.
all purpose flour
generous pinch or two of fresh-ground black pepper
(1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices and set aside.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter till it is smooth and creamy, occasionally scraping chunks off the beater to fully incorporate. Add sugars and beat until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low, and beat in egg yolk till well blended.
Add the flour mixture and mix on the lowest speed until the flour is just incorporated, mixing as little as possible. The dough will be crumbly. It's OK.
Lay a sheet of plastic wrap onto your work surface, and scrape the dough onto it, using the plastic wrap to help you form a log that is about 1.5 inches in diameter and about 7 inches long. Wrap well and chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
Center a rack in the oven and heat it to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, slice the log into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place on the cookie sheet about 1.5 inches apart, and sprinkle lightly with turbinado sugar, pressing it gently into the top of the cookies. Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, till lightly golden around the edges and on the bottom, but still pale on top. Let the cookies rest for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. You may need to make these in 2 batches because they do spread a bit; if so, wait till the cookie sheet cools completely before starting the second batch.