Here’s a pinwheel twist on one of the greatest French cookies of all, the renowned “Sables Bretons”. Very -very- buttery, with a perfectly balanced salty aftertaste, the “Sables Bretons” are a quintessence of baking from Brittany. In this recipe, the addition of a swirled cocoa filling turns the decadence (or immorality?) up a notch and adds an extra layer of nutty, roasted flavors.
The classic salted butter cookies from Brittany are called sablés, referring to their sandy (sablé) texture. As is very often in Brittany baking, salt and butter are the shining stars of the recipe… and good quality butter and salt, for a Celtic god’s sake! Choosing a good quality butter for baking, means you will want a butter with a higher fat content, and hence less water. In Canada or the US, these butters are labeled as “European-style”. If you have the chance to get your hands on Euchire Demi-Sel or Beurre d’Isigny Demi-Sel , both from Normandy, do not hesitate for even an instant. Another good option is to opt for a cultured butter – which means live bacteria has been added to the cream before churning it into butter. Many French chefs only swear by cultured butter and produce many of the greatest French pastries.
In general, unsalted butter is preferred in baking as it allows you to control the quantity of salt you add to your dough. But these sablés Bretons will actually get their unique flavor from the use of salted butter, to which we will also be adding another generous pinch of coarse sea salt. Le Paludier Grey Sea Salt (from Guérande) and La Baleine (a very popular salt brand in France) are good choices. It should also be noted that due to their generous amount of butter, these cookies are sensitive to baking. A couple of minutes more spent in the oven will make a tremendous difference. Less baked, lighter cookies will make for a softer and saltier bite. Well baked and darker, they will let notes of brown butter and caramel shine through. Make your pick, and enjoy.
Salted Butter Cocoa Pinwheel CookiesPrint This
- For the sablés dough:
- 2/3 cup salted butter, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon of water
- For the cocoa filling:
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1/3 butter, room temperature
- ¼ ground almond
In a large bowl, cream the salted butter and salt together.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and add slowly the sugar, while whisking, until the yolks become light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.
Add the egg yolks to the butter, mixing well until incorporated.
Sift together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl, and stir into the yolk and butter mixture, using a spatula, until just incorporated (do not overmix).
With your hands, shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
In the meantime, in a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar and ground almond. Add in the butter and mix until well incorporated and creamy.
Take the cookie dough out of the fridge and roll it out into a ¼ inch thick rectangle. Spread the cocoa cream onto the rectangle, and roll up the rectangle, tightly, starting with the long side. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
Take the log out of the fridge, unwrap and cut in ¼ inch slices.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, place the cookies 2 inches apart and bake at 350°C for 10 minutes (lighter version) or 12 minutes (darker version).