Saturday, February 23, 2013

Love comes in all shapes and sizes...

My friend Samantha requested that we whip up something called "Chocolate Sables" last week. What's a sable? Good question... I asked google and came up with:

Sable in French means "sandy" — these are a classic French cookie, made out of crumbly chocolate shortbread. To keep them nice and sandy, be extra careful not to overmix the dough. The hint of salt brightens the flavor and underlines the chocolate.

Sounds good to me. And because I'm an obliging lass, I invited everybody over for a little Valentine's Day Chocolate Sable bake-off. Julia and I also tracked down some seriously cute cookie cutters, resulting in some seriously cute cookies.

Please find it in your heart to forgive my crazy-housewife expression! And yes, I did bake with Jules strapped to my front. Talk about multi-tasking!

The recipe was reasonably easy to make, and well worth it if you're a chocolate cookie enthusiast. In total, the cookies were a hit-- my only alteration-- maybe make double the recipe if you're making them for a squadron of ladies and everybody wants to bring some home!

I know we're obsessed with Smitten Kitchen right now, but that lady seems to do no wrong. Check out the original recipe here...

Smitten Kitchen's Intense Chocolate Sables:

Makes 40 to 48 2-inch thin cookies, fewer if thicker (We did NOT produce 40 cookies. More like 30..)
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutched cocoa powder (see Updated Note)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 to 2/3 cup (100 to 135 grams) granulated sugar (less for a more bittersweet cookie)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped until almost powdery in a food processor
Coarse sugar (turbinato/sugar in the raw or decorative) for sprinkling
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking soda together onto a piece of waxed paper or into a bowl and set aside. (I almost always skip the sifting step wherever possible, but this was uncharted territory for me, so I followed the steps to a T. The results were delish, so I guess I'd say the sifting paid off...)
  • Cream butter, sugar and salt together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla, beating until combined, then scraping down sides. Add dry ingredients and grated chocolate together and mix until just combined.
  • Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap it up and chill it in the frige until just firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. No need to get it fully hard, or it will be harder to roll out. Dough can be refrigerated until needed, up to a two days, or frozen longer, but let it warm up and soften a bit before rolling it out for decreased frustration.
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough gently — it will still be on the crumbly side, so only attempt to flatten it slightly with each roll — until it is 1/8-inch thick (for thin cookies, what I used), 1/4-inch thick (for thicker ones) or somewhere in-between (I suspect the Balthazar ones are rolled to 3/8-inch). 
  • Cut into desired shapes and space them an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle decoratively with coarse sugar. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (for thinner cookies) or 10 to 12 minutes (for thicker ones). Leave cookies on baking sheets out of the oven for a couple minutes before gently, carefully transferring them to cooling racks, as they’ll be fragile until they cool.

Oh yes! Julia and I could not resist the hammer, heart, and fancy-edge cookie cutters.
Sending the two of us into a cooking store together is perilous! We both come out well equipped and fairly broke. 

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