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Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet and Savory Sablés: French Shortbread and Rosemary Almond Parmesan "Cocktail" Cookies

Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet and Savory Sablés: French Shortbread and Rosemary Almond Parmesan "Cocktail" Cookies

         The first time Andrew and I ever tasted a Sablé, we’d made a pilgrimage to The Essex Market where Dorie Greenspan and her son Joshua had opened “Beurre et Sel”, a tiny hole in the wall that sold nothing but these out-this-world butter-y crispy shortbread cookies. The sheer beauty of the Greenspan’s display of the cookies took us aback.  The variety was amazing too—there were sweet and savory versions. These were all tucked into tubes to take home but I couldn’t help wonder how many of them actually made it there. The cookies were that addictive and at about the size of a half dollar coin easily consumed anywhere.  They were also fairly expensive which may explain why, sadly, after 15 months in business, the tiny shop was shuttered.

La Marquise de Sevigné         
  Sablé, which means “Sand” in French, go all the way back to 1670 when they were first made mention of in the Marquise de Sévigné’s “letters”.  La Marquise wrote these letters to her daughter but they were widely circulated for their wit and vivid descriptions.

To this day she is one of the most revered of all French writers.  In one of these letters, she wrote about the cookie that had been created in a French village called Sablé-sur-Sarthe.  In an amazing coincidence, Sablé is the term French bakers use for breadcrumbs.  As the cookie is made, the cold butter, flour and sugar used at the start of the recipe make a texture like breadcrumbs or “sand” before the egg is added.
Andrew waited a while before tackling Dorie’s own recipe for Sablés and I have to say, we were both very sorry he hadn’t made them earlier.  First he tackled a sweet version.  In the sea of Christmas cookies, he made this year, I had to contain myself from not eating every last Sablé, this simple combination of sugar, flour, butter and eggs their edges rolled in demerara sugar  Then after Christmas, I prevailed upon him to try the savory version.  This mixture of Rosemary, Almonds and Parmesan were slightly smaller than their sweet cousins but their impact was just the same.  You could not help but pop these intensely flavored ‘cocktail’ cookies in your mouth one after the other.  Fortunately the recipe yields dozens of the quarter-size circles. 
The fundamental difference between the sweet and savory versions Andrew made was that the sweet cookies are made into rolls that look exactly like my mother’s Ice Box Cookies and are sliced very much the same way.  Rolled in Demerara, the crunchy un-refined raw sugar that’s also called Turbinado  and it’s well worth finding some. (Ours comes from Williams-Sonoma).   The savory version is not made into a roll.  Instead the dough is flattened with a rolling pin and then a cookie cutter forms the final cookie.   I can’t extoll the virtues of Sablés enough.  So next time you want to wow your family and friends, make batches of these and watch them disappear.  If you do have any leftover, they keep incredibly well in an airtight container for several days, if not a week.  Here are the recipes:

2 thoughts on “Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet and Savory Sablés: French Shortbread and Rosemary Almond Parmesan "Cocktail" Cookies”

    • Thanks for taking the time to write. These were a very big hit. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did. XOX Monte

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