These peppery French butter cookies are a grown-up’s version of a great chocolate cookie. Sandy in texture, with the flavor of chocolate shortbread, they melt in your mouth, with a salty finish that’s a terrific contrast to the sable’s sweetness.
You definitely won’t want to share. I suggest doubling or even tripling the recipe to keep the peace. To keep the cookies nice and sandy, don’t overmix the dough. Mine weren’t perfect circles, but they disappeared so fast no one noticed.
Chocolate, Salt and Pepper Sables
From “Les Petits Sweets” by Kathryn Gordon and Anne E. McBride (Running Press, Sept. 2016, $18).
1/2 cup good-quality salted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup cocoa powder
1/3 teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt
In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the mixture is smooth, not fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Break egg yolk with a fork and drizzle it in slowly. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl, then add flour, cocoa, pepper, baking powder and sea salt. Mix until just combined, about 30 seconds
Transfer dough to a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, and use your hands to spread it along the long side of the plastic in a rough log shape. Use the plastic wrap to roll the dough into a 1 1/2-inch-diameter log, rolling the log on the counter to help even it out and to remove any air pockets. Freeze dough for 15 minutes, then take it out and round up the shape so it makes as perfect a log as possible. Return to freezer for 30 minutes. It will keep, frozen and tightly wrapped in 2 layers of plastic wrap, for up to 2 months.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from freezer and let it thaw for about 5 minutes.
Place dough on cutting board and cut into 1/3-inch-thick pieces. Roll log 90 degrees between each cut to keep its shape round. Place cookies on baking sheet, leaving 3/4 inch between them.
In small bowl, mix granulated sugar, cinnamon and flaky sea salt. Sprinkle an even amount of the mixture on the top of each cookie. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until cookies just lift up when you try to move them. Let them cool on the baking sheet and serve at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Yield: 20 cookies.