Chocolate Sables

Not sables, sablés. Complications with accented characters in blog post titles.

I’ve been to privy to this recipe for a long time, through Smitten Kitchen, and this is a recipe originally from the cookie master herself, Dorie Greenspan. However, Smitten Kitchen’s recipe used to have weight measures, then the weights were taken off because there were errors, and finally, this past week, I got around to figuring it out myself. And now I shall share it here so we can all benefit from delicious cookie heaven.

Sablés are little French cookies that resemble shortbread, but the consistency and texture is much more pleasing than an old-fashioned cornstarch-y shortbread. The word literally means ‘sand’, and the cookies fall apart in your mouth like fine sand. (That may not sound very appealing, but it’s a texture comparison, not a taste comparison!) The process to make these cookies, when you make them by hand, requires you to rub the butter into the flour, and the action there is called “sabler” in French – to make like wet sand. There are no eggs in these cookie recipes to emulsify and hold everything together, so once bitten, these cookies simply fall apart delicately.

Ingredients

  • 160g flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 3g bsoda
  • 160g butter
  • 3g salt
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 45g white sugar
  • 200g chocolate chips
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Set aside
  2. Cream butter with salt, using the paddle attachment in an electric mixer, or a handheld mixer, or, if it’s room temperature, you can even try to do this with a scraper and a bowl.
  3. Beat in the sugars, and cream well – no need to get to “light and fluffy”, but cream well enough that everything is mixed together.
  4. Beat in the dry ingredients, or if using your hands, rub the butter into the flour mixture until a coarse, wet-sand mixture comes together. Work quickly to gather into a dough, do not overmix.
  5. Add in the chocolate chips, just until mixed
  6. Roll into two logs, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate. Shortbread dough is best chilled overnight and baked the next day.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and slice cookies into 1cm thick discs. Bake until cookies are set. Cool on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before removing to cooling rack to cool completely.

The trick to a good French sablé is to make sure you don’t over-work the dough once it comes together. If you do, the butter fats break down further, sometimes melting at room temperature or from the heat of your hands. In that case, your cookies will still turn out well, but they’ll have a much more coarse crumb, and will crack easily when baked. These cookies will not crack – as you can see, they’ll hold quite tightly together. If you like very buttery, big-crumbs type cookies, then you can take the liberty to work your dough a bit more. However, as the French are very stringent about traditional taste, a proper sablé is never overworked.

Also, the higher quality cocoa powder and chocolate chips you use, the better these cookies will be. This is not a recipe for the Hershey’s cocoa powder! If you try that, don’t even tell me how it turns out.

When I took these into work, people loved them. I am still hearing comments about these cookies a week later. Enjoy!


Pictured here with lavender shortbread

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April Desktop Wallpaper

I had April 1 off as a holiday, and I was sitting here importing my photos to do the wallpaper and get some blogging done, when I accidentally deleted my whole iPhoto library. *Insert multiple GIFs of horrified faces*

Having your whole library destroyed and slowly rebuilt to a mediocre condition (i.e. still not entirely functional) is the sort of thing that lets the air out completely. Therefore, the task of getting the wallpaper done fell to the wayside and I only got around to it this weekend, after a busy week at work.

Since we’ve been back from Taiwan, I feel like my life has been a bit derailed, and I’ve been constantly playing catch-up to the long list of things I want to do/need to do. This is probably due to the fact that I started a new job so my schedule has had to adjust with that. I’m loving the new job, a bit daunted by all the responsibilities that come with it, but super-psyched to be in the big leagues with how much ownership and pride I have for my role within the company! However, later nights have so far pushed daily exercise off my radar, which is really unfortunate, and I’m hoping to get back into it again in April. The whole clocks-skipping-forward thing hasn’t aided me in getting up early to exercise, though!

Since the weather just doesn’t seem to be warming up, I’m also finding it quite difficult to start thinking about spring training for my upcoming runs. I’ve resigned to the fact that I’m a runner for half a year only (say no to winter running!) but seeing as how it snowed here in London on April 4th, I’m not sure when I’m supposed to dig out my pink running shorts! This year I’ve signed up to do a 10K with work in July, and a half marathon in early October in London! All registrations have been confirmed and paid for, so no backing out this time!

I’m also adding in more stress by focusing on the fact that this summer, we have to move. It feels like all the bombs will set off about the exact same time period – we’re going to Toronto, my mom’s coming here, I’m taking my mom to Paris (SO excited), but our lease expires around that time too. Perhaps I need to start packing now to alleviate stress! (Actually, wow, good idea, I probably will do this soon…)

All this to say, I actually did get very busy cooking last weekend (Easter long weekend – FOUR DAYS!) but I documented it all with my camera, and I was able to take some lovely photos because it was a sunny weekend. So this weekend I’m working on getting those photos ready for some blog posts to come soon, I promise!

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March Desktop Wallpaper

Wow, I believe this is the third March I’ve done a wallpaper!

(Ignoring the fact that the month has elapsed almost a third of the way…)

It also feels like I have become the person who updates monthly through an image that wasn’t even really taken in the previous month. February was a short month, and the whole quitting a job, traveling, and starting a new job with immense jet-lag thing kind of took over my month.

We arrived in Taipei on New Years Eve at night, and went immediately to a HUGE FEAST. This feast puts all Christmases I’ve had combined to shame! Between seven people (and an eighth one who showed up much later), we had two tables worth of dishes at my grandmother’s house for our Chinese New Year family dinner. We began with the sea – seared scallops, pan-fried fish (a must-have), giant prawns that were really more like baby lobsters, crab, a type of fish egg that gets compressed into almost a pate-like-shape, then baked or fried…and those were just the highlights. Then it was three different types of beef, two chicken dishes (plus a soup with chicken), pork, Taiwanese sausages, eggs, tofu…you name it, we had it. As if that wasn’t enough, then we had hot pot – a big meal all in itself, normally! We also had dumplings (another must-have for good luck), and sweet deep-fried cakes for the new year. The meal was absolutely fantabulous, and the feast made me realise (and remember) how big of a celebration Chinese New Year really means in Asia.

After dinner, we were already pretty tired, but we decided to take a quick break and visit my grandpa at the hospital to stay through New Year’s Eve with him. It was my first time seeing my grandpa since he’d been ill, and I walked into the deserted hospital wing with much trepidation. We spoke to Grandpa, hung around and met the aide and some of the nurses working overtime, and shortly after the first fireworks went off at the start of the new year, went back to my Grandma’s to meet my uncle who had arrived from San Francisco.

The reason why our trip became a bit of a family reunion is because we arrived at a time when Grandpa’s health was once again quite critical. My uncle came back the same day as us, and we all spent a few days visiting the hospital twice, sometimes three times, everyday. Grandpa passed away on Valentine’s Day (thank you, amazing choice of date, what an awesome man) and then my mom and sister came back to Taipei too to attend the funeral on the 23rd. A sad event, but I am glad that Grandpa has finally ended the suffering, and that I was able to be there on his last few days to speak to him and send him off properly.

We managed to squeeze in a few days of hanging out in Taipei despite the turn of events, and still continued on to our trip to Boracay in the Philippines. Although CNN votes Boracay as one of the top beaches in the world – I TOTALLY DISAGREE. We went at a busy time during Chinese New Year, so the island was completely over-capacity, resulting in green algae growth in the waters, and just a terrible beach to spend time on. Also, I had higher expectations for the Philippines in terms of how easy it might’ve been to navigate or how developed Boracay should have been, and I was quite taken aback by our actual experience. (It took us a FULL DAY to travel from Manila to Boracay, due to delays, traffic, and other sketchy events.) Looking back, I really wish we had gone to Kenting in the south of Taiwan instead! Next time, I’ll know, and for now, I have a couple of new stamps in my passport and better worldly knowledge.

We came back on a Sunday morning, and I started work at my new job the very next day. I can’t quite tell you what happened in the first week we were back in London…we were basically useless by 9pm every night, and woke up chatting to each other at 5am or earlier every morning!

So far, I’m loving my new job, and I’m getting back on track on sorting out my time so that I will have more time to blog and update on what’s happening and share some recipes (about bloody time, you say)!

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The wallpaper is of a gluten-free almond cake that I adapted from a Cordon Bleu recipe…I’ll try to share it soon!

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