David Lebovitz Cocoa Powder FAQ, Dutch-process & natural cocoa powder, Pierre Hermé's chocolate sparklers, Pierre Hermé’s sablés, Pierre Hermé’s video, Valentine’s chocolate sablés, Valentine’s cookies
Today’s icy weather was a great inspiration to try Pierre Hermé’s chocolate sparklers. I thought about this recipe because the sugar around the cookies reminds me of the ice outside my home.
Pierre Hermé’s cookies are called sablés, which derives from the French word sable, meaning “sand.” Sablés are round French shortbread biscuits with a crumbly, ‘sandy’ texture and a golden color. They can be flavored with nuts, citrus zest, dried fruits, teas, or chocolate.
Hermé has several chocolate sablé recipes. The one I use calls for Dutch-processed cocoa powder, which has a dark color.
When shopping for chocolate cocoa powder, keep in mind that there are two kinds of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural and Dutch-processed (also called alkalized). Here is a link that explains the difference between the two as well as when to use which kind.
I added the mini chocolate chip cookies from another recipe of his. You can also use bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chips (about 1/3 inch). The pieces of chocolate bring another layer of texture to the sandy feel of the cookies and the crunch of the crystallized sugar. Also, the dough calls for white sugar, but other recipes use light brown sugar or a mix of the two, so it’s really up to you.
The sablé dough is very quick and easy to assemble. Once you shape it into a log form, it needs to be chilled, so that you can slice it neatly. This recipe calls for a couple hours in the refrigerator, but I freeze the log for 15 minutes, then transfer to the fridge for only 15 minutes more, and the process works just fine.
Here’s a video of Pierre Hermé himself making another recipe of chocolate sablé. It’s a different recipe and in French, but the process is the same and the video will give you an idea of how easy making sablés is.
Sablés are a great treat for Valentine’s Day. You could swap white sugar with pink or red and make a nice gift. The recipe I use makes two logs, and each log makes about 15 cookies. I have one leftover log in my freezer from this time, so I think I’ll use it to make Valentine’s chocolate sablés with the kids for their teachers. The kids can brush the log all over with egg yolk and then roll the log in crystallized sugar. I’ll take over for the slicing and baking part.
These cookies do not have a leavening agent, so you don’t need to leave a lot of space between them on the baking sheet– just enough so hot air will have room to circulate and cook them. Once the cookies are cool, have the kids help with taste testing and packaging!
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