I have two other posts that I’ve been struggling to unleash into the electronic ether but for some reason, I am ignoring those and doing this. I guess that’s the nature of blogging sometimes. Some things will take precedence over other things purely because you feel so happy about it and the outcome. Dare I say, you just want to let the world know that you’re heart is full of joy.
Some will wonder if I just won the lottery or something (well, I think I won the lottery of family or friends anyway!) but no. I baked some sablés! That’s all. Why I am so happy may be because I’ve always wanted to bake some and for some reason I just decided to this morning in between writing a report and keeping Master 8 quiet with a tray of Tim Tams (just kidding, he just got one). I’m also pleased that I didn’t have to run around gathering ingredients from elsewhere as all I needed was in my pantry.
Sablés have been popular in Japan for as long as I can remember. Of course, their version has had the magical J-transformation and aren’t typically what you’d find in Paris. Still, the concept is the same: crisp, buttery and saku saku. I’m using a Japanese onomatopoeia here because that’s the only way I can describe the feeling on the teeth when you bite into a sablé. The closest thing I can think of is shortbread made with rice flour.
There is a lovely French guy who sells macarons and canelés at the local growers’ market and he’s recently expanded his range to include sablés and emeraudes (I think… giant rock cake-like things with pistachio). I however stuck to buying canelés this weekend so perhaps I had some subconscious yearning for sablés that played on my mind over the last 24 hours.
I didn’t spend too long finding the right recipe online. I figured Pierre Herme is hardly a slouch with the pastry spatula so his Chocolate Sablés recipe was more than sufficient. It didn’t even call for eggs unlike a few other sablé recipes that I came across! Très facile!
I did however (as per usual) want to put my own twist into the recipe so decided to add some lovely roasted black sesame. I quite enjoyed this combination of flavours during my last trip to Japan in the form of a can of hot chocolate that I procured from a vending machine. Nothing flash but clearly black sesame and dark chocolate are happy partners.
Making sablés isn’t terribly hard and as with any butter cookie dough, you can freeze whatever you don’t use. Given I just ate three of the eight that I baked this morning, that’s probably a good thing!
Chocolate & Roasted Black Sesame Sablés
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
120g tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tbsp black sesame (whole)
To make: If you have a Thermomix, it’s handy to be able to roast up the sesame seeds on 100C, Speed 3 for a couple of minutes. Proceed to mill for a few seconds on Speed 8/9. If you don’t, you can lay out some sesame seeds on an oven tray and heat in a slow oven for a few minutes (you should be able to smell the sesame once warmed through) or use a frypan on low heat. Crush roasted sesame in a mortar and pestle. It is fairly important that you roast and mill the sesame or you won’t get the release of flavours. Set milled sesame aside.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together or blitz in TMX for a few seconds on Speed 5. Add 2 tbsp of milled roasted sesame seeds to dry ingredients and set aside. Put butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. Add the sugars, salt and vanilla extract and beat for another 1 or 2 minutes. If using the TMX, all this can be done together at once. Reduce the speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated (the dough may look crumbly). For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible.
Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface, divide in half and, working with one half at a time, shape the dough into a log that is 1 1/2 inches in diameter. (As you’re shaping the log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, to make certain you haven’t got an air channel.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 1 hour. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.) If ready to proceed, preheat oven to 176C.
Once dough is chilled, use a sharp, thin-bladed knife to slice rounds 1/2-inch thick. (If the cookies break, squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on a lined baking tray, leaving an inch of space between them. Bake only 1 sheet at a time and bake each sheet for 10-12 minutes. (The cookies will not look done nor will they be firm, but that is the way they should be.) Transfer the sheet to a cooling rack and sprinkle each sablé with whole sesame seeds. Use a flat pastry spatula to set sesame gently into the sablé. Let the cookies rest, on the sheet, until they are only just warm.