From the chef at Copine, this chocolate sablé recipe is all you need.
No, you’re not imagining it. There are endcaps at every market filled with sacks of flour and sugar, just begging us to begin our holiday baking. Pinterest boards are filling with everything from the easiest sugar-cookie recipes to cute little pretzel concoctions that will somehow resemble Rudolph, an M&M serving as his shiny red nose.
There are chocolate crinkles, gingerbread men, spritz and something called a cookie bomb. These are the happy, friendly, family-loving holiday cookies of our dreams, right?
Maybe you’re searching for something a little darker, something with a little less fluff? If so, here is just the cookie for you. It’s called a chocolate sablé, and it’s from Shaun McCrain at Ballard’s Copine.
It’s a little like a shortbread in that it’s got plenty of butter, but it also has a crisp, almost sandy quality to it — which is where it gets its name, as sablé in French translates to sand. Also, there’s nearly a third of a cup of cocoa powder in it, making this cookie the dark, adult Oreo of your dreams.
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McCrain first came to making these almost out of necessity. He says pastry chefs are hard to come by in Seattle — especially for small restaurants — and if he wanted to add pastries to his menus, he knew he needed to teach himself how to make them.
“I like shortbread and was given a recipe years ago that I played with a bit and learned that if you roll out shortbread really flat and bake it a bit longer, you’ll get something like this cookie,” he says.
He wanted to do a chocolate version and, after a lot of trial and error, settled on cocoa powder as the most efficient vessel to achieve the perfect depth of chocolate flavor.
The cookie has been on the menu at Copine in a few different iterations; as the base for a cherry bombe, crushed as a garnish for mousse and — almost accidentally — as a sandwich cookie, filled with an orange cream cheese.
“I had extra dough and thought, I love oranges and cream, let’s see how this works,” he says. “I made some for our retail shop and sold out of them right away.”
He’s also tried it with a peanut-butter filling, and wages that using blood orange or grapefruit would do just as nicely.
The end result is a sandy, crumbly, chocolate holiday cookie that will soothe any weary soul during this damp, dark winter. Dare I say it’s just about the only cookie you need to bake this season.
The dough is composed of ingredients you most likely already have in your pantry — unsalted butter, flour, sugar and a pinch of baking soda — and as long as you can be a little patient with your rolling skills, you’ll be swimming in cookies in no time.
Roll these cookies too thin and they’ll turn into a lacy mess, good only for crumbling over ice cream (which, in all honesty isn’t the worst thing). Too thick and they’ll be a bit too rich for a full cookie sandwich. Aim for McCrain’s recommended 1/8 inch.
Shaun McCrain’s Chocolate Sablé
Makes two dozen cookies or 12 sandwiches
For the cookies:
6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces (½ cup) sugar
6.5 ounces (1 ½ cups) sifted all-purpose flour
3 ounces (¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons) cocoa powder (McCrain recommends Valrhona)
Pinch baking soda
For the sandwich filling:
4 ounces cream cheese
½ cup powdered sugar
zest of one large orange, juice from half
1. To make the cookies: Combine the cold butter and sugar in a stand mixer fixed with the paddle attachment until creamy.
2. Add remaining cookie ingredients to the bowl slowly, with the mixer running on the lowest speed and mix until they are combined and you have a dough-like consistency.
3. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of wax or parchment paper and place another piece of equal size on top. Roll out the dough between the two pieces of paper to about an eighth of an inch in thickness and chill for 20 minutes.
4. When the cookie dough is cold, use your preferred cookie cutter to cut into desired shape.
5. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until the surface of the cookie looks firm and crisp. (This is not a soft cookie …)
6. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
7. To make the cream-cheese filling: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and whip for a minute. Add the powdered sugar in two batches, mixing between each until fully combined. Add the zest, and with the mixer running, slowly add the orange juice.
8. Once cookies are cooled, scoop the filling into a piping bag, or Ziploc bag, cutting off a corner to serve as the frosting tip. Pipe about a teaspoon of filling onto completely cooled cookie and top with the other half.
9. Cookies should be kept refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to eat.