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Vanilla-Bean Sablé Cookies

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Yields about 2 dozen cookies

  • by Dorie Greenspan from Fine Cooking
    Issue 116

These simple French shortbread cookies are are a revelation when made with the very best ingredients: high-fat European-style butter, sea salt, and plump vanilla beans. If you like, you can substitute 2 tsp. vanilla extract for the vanilla beans; add it with the egg yolk.

  • 2 soft, plump vanilla beans
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, preferably high-fat European-style, softened
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1-1/3 oz. (1/3 cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Sanding sugar, white or colored
Tip:
Once you’ve scraped the pulp from the vanilla beans, stash the pods in a canister of sugar to make vanilla-sugar.

Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the seed pulp into a small bowl; add the granulated sugar. 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), about 1„ minute; mix in the salt. Add the vanilla sugar and the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add 1„ egg yolk and mix for 1 minute. Still on low speed, 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 and refrigerate for at least 3„ hours.

Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking liners.

Sprinkle about 1/2 cup sanding sugar onto a piece of waxed paper. Combine the remaining egg yolk 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. Trim the ends of the logs if they’re ragged. Using a knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Put them on the baking sheets, leaving about 2-„inches between rounds.

Bake the cookies, rotating and swapping the baking sheets’ positions halfway through, until the cookies are brown around the edges and golden on the bottom, 18„ to 22 minutes. Let cool on the sheets 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.

Make Ahead Tips

Packed in an airtight container, the cookies with keep for at least 4„ days. You can also freeze the unbaked logs of dough, wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 „months. Let sit at room temperature for about 10„ minutes before cutting and baking; there’s no need to fully defrost them.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 140; Fat (g): 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): 5; Protein (g): 1; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 2; Carbohydrates (g): 14; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 0; Sodium (mg): 50; Cholesterol (mg): 35; Fiber (g): 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This recipe is one of my new absolute favorites! I was so thankful to find it online...I was looking for a recipe to feature a beautiful bufala butter that I picked up at a specialty grocer-higher protein than standard cow butter, spread on bread it's more similar to ice cream than butter. The simple ingredients and delicate preparation method completely did the trick. It was a smashing success! I dusted with demerara sugar which added a nice (but very subtle) molasses flavor and garnished the tops just after pulling out of the oven with a pinch of vanilla salt. I recommend this recipe to anyone who loves good butter!

These are one of the greatest discoveries I've ever made on this site. For small impromptu gatherings of friends, we often sit around drinking tea while we chat--these are a perfect complement to that. Now I'm sure to always have a log or two of dough waiting in the freezer because I can have them sliced and baked in half an hour flat, and by the time everyone arrives I have delicious cookies that receive rave reviews!

Well this was a pleasant change to all those boring shortbread recipes.Easy and no frills recipe that produced a delicious tasting and wonderful looking cookie. I used what we call vanilla caviar (fresh vanilla paste)which is the inside of the vanilla bean and the cookies tasted amazing. I also used Raw sugar to coat which gave a beautiful crunch to the cookie.My new favorite cookie!

Just like my grandmother used to make them. Careful they burn easily!

These cookies are delicious, easy to make and have the perfect texture and taste. I didn't have a vanilla bean but replaced it with pure vanilla extract (as suggested by the the author) and they turned out perfectly. I too used coloured sugar, but adults and kids alike loved them! I chilled the dough in the freezer to speed up the process and it worked well. Will definitely make them again.

These cookies illustrate how satisfying a well-made cookie can be. With top-quality ingredients (butter, vanilla) and following the recipe carefully, you can make cookies worthy of a restaurant dessert plate. They have a delightful texture and flavor. I used colored sugars for the exterior, which the kids liked, but these are really a cookie for adults, I think. As for a "plump" vanilla bean, I use the ones that come inside bottles of vanilla (I used Penzey's) because they stay soft. Next time I finish a bottle of vanilla, this will be the first recipe I go to!

I bake a lot for my family but am not much of a cookie person, BUT these are elegant and absolutely delicious.

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