Rich Table changes its dessert menu almost on a weekly basis, so chocolate sablés are on and off the list. But they are never off for long because they are so popular, and the restaurant regulars insist on them. These tasty little sandy cookies (Sablé is the French word for “sandy”.) are a great way to end a meal, especially when combined with ice cream, a light mousse, crème brûlée, or panna cotta.
The texture of the cookies is sandy because the ingredients are mixed together very lightly so that the crystals of sugar do not completely dissolve, so be careful not to over-work the dough.
This particular version adds a light dusting of smoked sea salt. I used smoked Halen Môn, a Welsh sea salt harvested on the Isle of Anglesey from whence my great-grandfather and great-grandmother migrated many decades ago.
It is interesting how well chocolate and salt seem to go together. You certainly see the effective combination in these cookies, but also increasingly in ice cream and chocolate bars.
Unfortunately, this is not Sarah’s authentic recipe, but it is pretty close to the real thing. The cookies are fairly easy to make, although there are several steps, and there are a couple of tricks along the way. These were a big hit at our recent potluck birthday party.
Sea-Salt-Sprinkled Chocolate Sablés
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1¼ cups flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- smoked sea salt (Halen Môn or your favorite brand)
- Place chocolate in freezer compartment of refrigerator for 10 minutes. Then grate onto a sheet of waxed paper using the fine side of a box grater. You will generate static electricity with the grating, so “ground” the gratings by touching them before you pour them into a bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and sea salt.
- In a medium bowl, mix the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until just combined. Do not over-beat. Then mix in the egg yolk.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix together briefly until just combined. Do not over-beat.
- Fold in the grated chocolate with a spoon or spatula.
- Squeeze the dough into a ball with your hands. The warmth of your hands should melt the butter slightly so that the dough comes together.
- Place the dough in the middle of a 16 inch long piece of waxed paper. Shape the dough into a log about 14 inches long, 3 inches wide, and 1 inch high, along the length of the paper. Fold the waxed paper over the log, pressing the paper firmly against the dough. With the palm of your hand, flatten the log slightly so that it forms an oblong in profile.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour or more.
- While the dough is chilling, heat the oven to 350°F, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and cut into 1/3 inch thick slices with a very sharp knife. The dough will be very firm, so you will have to use some pressure on the knife to cut the slices.
- Arrange the cookie slices on the two cookie pans with at least 1 inch between them. With a pastry brush, and in batches, moisten the tops of the cookies with a few drops of water. Sprinkle each moistened cookie with a few grains of sea salt. Chill again in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool on the pans for 5 minutes, and then transfer to baking racks until completely cooled.
- Serve. Makes about 24 oblong cookies.