French Sables and the current situation involving Macarons and Pierre Herme

As many of you know, I have been really into making shortbread since I learned how last month.  Shortbread cookies were always a special treat that I never though to actually make.  Turns out they are quite easy, and homemade ones are much better than store-bought ones.  I have made these French Sables three times now.  I should probably stop making them, but they are so good.  The recipe follows.

On other baking news, a while ago, I decided I wanted to make French Macarons–those lovely little brightly colored sandwich cookies that decorate every bakery in France.  While I was there, I ate an amazing fushia colored chambord flavored one.  Every since, I have wanted to make them.  There are few books written in English that are for French Macarons.  I read reviews on them on Amazon and ended up not buying any.  Today I decided that I was going to buy the one by Pierre Herme, the famed French Pastry chef.  The issue and reason I didn’t look to buy it before: it is written in French.  I took 4 semester of French in college, and I did okay while in France, but is complicated cooking in French really within my ability?  There is only one way to find out.  However, when I went to buy it, the cheapest I could find it on Amazon was $150.  Forget that idea.  I did end up buying the book he wrote with Dorie Greenspan (though I am under the impression she is more a translator??? I could be wrong), which I am now waiting for.  That book is in English, so that is a bonus I suppose, but I am not sure if Macarons are in it.  Reviews state that the recipes in this book are hard, but worth it.  We will soon see how good my baking abilities have gotten.  In the meantime, here is the rather simple recipe for Sables…

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature (save the whites in the freezer, I will have future recipes using only egg whites)

2 cups all purpose flour

decorating sugar (optional)

Method:

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth and velvety, not light and fluffy (if it gets light and fluffy, you have beat it too long).  Add in the sugars and salt, beat until well blended. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.

Turn off the mixer and pour in flour all at once.  Drape with a kitchen towel to protect yourself from flying flour.  Pulse the mixer about 5 times for a couple of seconds each time.  Remove the towel and mix until the flour in incorporated.  Be careful not to over mix! The dough should look like this…

Gather the dough into a ball and divide in half.  Use plastic wrap to roll into logs about 9 inches long.

Put in the fridge for at least 3 hours up to 3 days.  Once they are chilled take them out of the plastic wrap.  This is where you can use a pastry brush, coat the dough in egg yolk and sprinkle with decorative sugar.   I have done this with clear sugar each time, but I am not sure if it is all that necessary because you can’t really see the sugar.  However, around the holidays I think it would look very nice with some colored sugar.  Cut the logs into discs about 1/2 inch thick.

Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Bake for 17-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

When done, they should be lightly browned on the sides and bottom of the cookie.

Coming up in future blog posts: Madeline cookies and recipes by Pierre Herme–keep reading!

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