dutch sable cookies

i love and i mean lurve butter cookies, particularly the french style with it’s buttery flavor and sandy texture. these particular cookies are hand kneaded from start to finish and have a lovely texture. i decided to make checkerboard and spiral cookies.

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the biggest adjustment for the gluten free version is the time they need to spend in the fridge or freezer after assembly. the pattern of the cookies is only limited by your imagination and the ability to stick the pieces of dough together.

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the longer you can leave them in the fridge, the less grainy the texture will be and the better the cookies will hold their shape in the oven.

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Dutch Sable Cookies
adapted from The French Cookie Book by Bruce Healy and Paul Bugat

Ingredients

4 ¾ ounces (135g) unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces (60g) confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 ounces (170g) Cup4Cup flour
1 tablespoon (6g) good quality cocoa powder (i use Valrhona)

Method

Put the butter on a clean counter or silpat and sift  the confectioners’ sugar over it (I use a mesh strainer and a spatula or spoon). Cream the butter and sugar together by repeatedly smearing across the counter with the heel of your hand, then scraping it back with a bench scraper. Once it’s smooth, make a well in the butter mixture, and add the vanilla, working quickly, to avoid melting the butter. Sift the flour over the dough and cut it in with the bench scraper or by tossing it with your fingertips until it’s a loose, crumbly dough. Continue, smearing, gathering and kneading together until you have a smooth dough. Form the dough in a ball and cut this in half (one half of the ball should weigh ~180g). Set one ball of dough aside. Take the other ball and sift cocoa powder over it and knead the cocoa into the dough until it is uniform in color (work quickly to avoid melting butter). On parchment paper or a silpat form each half of the dough into an 6” x 8” rectangle about ½” thick. For checkerboard cookies cut nine (9) 6” long strips ½” wide you’ll need 5 strips of one flavor and 4 strips of the other flavor. Build the checkerboard on parchment or plastic wrap by stacking the strips into the checkerboard pattern and gently pressing together. For a spiral cookie, roll the dough ¼” thick and stack one flavor on top of the other and carefully roll into a cylinder. Each assembled cookie log should end up approximately 1 ½” in diameter. Wrap securely and refrigerate for at least two hours but preferably overnight.*

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cut the dough into ¼” thick slices with a sharp knife and place them carefully on cookie sheets (lined with parchment or a silpat to prevent sticking and for easy cleanup) approximately 1 inch apart. Gently press down on each cookie lightly to make the cookies stick to the sheet.

Bake approximately 10 minutes, until the bottoms and edges are very lightly browned but the centers are still pale (you want to be able to see that there are two colors of dough after baking). Carefully remove the cookies from the sheet, while still warm, and let cool on a wire rack.

*Note: if the dough becomes too difficult to handle, it’s because the butter has become too warm. Briefly chill the dough, in the fridge, to solidify the butter before continuing to work with it.

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