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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.


  • 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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