It's a Great Day for Sablés! (French Butter Cookies)

Sablés—French Butter Cookies. Photo by Richard Swearinger.

I love Sablés—these elegant French butter cookies are a bit like a cross between English shortbread and the American sugar cookie. They’re not as thick and crumbly as shortbread (but they are as wonderfully buttery!), and they’re not as sweet as American sugar cookies. They’re perfectly right down the middle. I also love what the 1/4 teaspoon salt brings to the cookies: As you munch on them, you get a noticeable effect of a tiny grain on your tongue now and then, amidst the sweet-butteriness of the cookie. They’re heaven.

Even if you don’t normally fuss with cutout cookies, give this a try. I find the dough exceedingly easy to work with. Serve these at tea-time or with ice cream for dessert (which is how a friend of mine served them last night at dinner).


Makes about 4 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter,* softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until combined. Beat in the flour mixture until just until combined. Using your hands, press the dough together in the bowl until it forms a ball. Divide the dough in half, form it into two disks, and wrap each separately in plastic wrap. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until the dough is firm and easy to handle, about 2 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each dough disk until 1/4 inch thick. With a 2-inch round cookie cutter (a cutter with scalloped edges is traditional), cut out the dough. Transfer the cutouts to ungreased cookie sheets. Reroll any scraps and cut out more cookies.

3. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg yolk-water mixture. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool. Store in an airtight container, separated by layers of waxed paper, for up to 3 days.

Baking with Kerry Gold Butter (photo courtesy of Kerry Gold)

* This is one of those times when you might want to splurge for a premium butter. I use Kerry Gold butter from Ireland, which I buy at Trader Joe’s. It’s about two times the price of regular butter, but about five times better.

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3 comments to It’s a Great Day for Sablés! (French Butter Cookies)

  • Rebecca

    Here in Ireland, home of Kerrygold that our cows contribute to, we cannot get Kerrygold butter unsalted. It amazing that you can! I remember when I was living in Los Angeles that mussels from Bantry Bay, sold in Trader Joes, were cheaper than buying the same product anywhere in Ireland!

    • Wini

      Interesting. But can you get other great unsalted Irish butters? Kerrygold, I believe, is simply a marketing term for butter from the Irish diary board that is sold here in the U.S. Maybe what you have in Ireland is the same thing, just a different name? I hope so! Irish butter is great butter–I love it.

      As for the Bantry Bay mussels: Yikes! It reminds me of when I once got sick in France and bought some American prescription pharmaceuticals for a very reasonable price. Once home, the same prescription medications cost about three times as much!

  • Ebbysmama

    great recipe. Just made these tonight. Approved!

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