I like sablé cookies (not as much as chocolate chip cookies, but they’re a different animal altogether). Last month, I tried Miette’s chocolate sablé cookies, but that recipe failed completely – the cookies fell apart and I ended up with chocolate sand. It was great as a topping for lactose-free ice cream or yogurt, but not as a cookie. Then I tried Alice Medrich’s recipe, which was on Orangette: whole wheat sablés with cocoa nibs. And they were just perfect! I made them with margarine instead of butter (I agree that butter would taste better, but too much of it makes me sick); I wanted to use whole wheat pastry flour, but couldn’t find any, so I used all white whole wheat flour instead. The cookies were absolutely delicious; the whole wheat gives them a subtle, hearty taste, and the cocoa nibs add crunch and flavor without being too sweet. As a matter of fact, there isn’t much sugar in this recipe. The Engineer and I made the first batch disappear quickly, and I brought a second batch to my parents, both of whom just loved them. These sablés are an understated sensation. The recipe makes about 24 cookies (you can get more if you slice them more thinly, but that’s always a bit risky).
2 cups (9 oz.) whole wheat pastry flour, OR 1 cup (4.5 oz.) all-purpose flour plus 1 scant cup (4 oz.) whole wheat flour
14 Tbsp. (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened (or vegan margarine)
½ cup (3 ½ oz.) sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup (about 1 ¼ oz.) roasted cacao nibs (I pan-roasted mine for a minute)
If using the two flours, combine them in a bowl, and mix with a whisk or fork.
In a medium bowl, with a large spoon or an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 1 minute (with the mixer). Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and add the nibs. Beat briefly to incorporate. Add the flour, and mix until just incorporated. Scrap the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it a little with your hands to make sure that the flour is completely incorporated. Form the dough into a 12-by-2-inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into ¼-inch-thick slices (I made mine about ½-inch thick). Place the cookies at least 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared sheet pans.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies for a minute on the pans, then transfer them (with or without their parchment) to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. (Two batches were all I had, since I made the cookies thicker than ¼ inch.)
These cookies are good on the first day, but they’re best with a little age, after at least a day or two.