Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sablés au praliné

The next recipe in the Biscuits Secs section of Philippe Conticini's book La Pâtisserie des Rêves is a sablé, a classic buttery, crisp cookie.  As I reviewed the recipe I came to realize that, even though he doesn't identify it as such, this is actually a sablé Breton, which happens to be one of my favorites!

the recipe

This dough differs from a basic butter/sugar/flour sablé by the addition of egg yolks and baking powder, giving the end result a somewhat different texture and flavor.  And, depending on how thick you roll the dough, it will come out crisp (rolled thinner) or softer with a more prominent crumb (rolled thicker).

The dough is very easy to put together and should be chilled before using, so make that part of your plan.

les ingredients

Mix 250 gm flour, 125 gm room temperature butter, a couple of pinches of fleur de sel (I use my favorite "Beanilla" vanilla fleur de sel) and un paquet de levure chimique (see side note below) to a coarse, sandy consistency (you can do this by hand or on low speed in the mixer).


Side note:  typically one finds baking powder sold in packets in France.  I can't recall the weight of one of those packets, but when I've made other Breton doughs, I've decreased the amount of baking powder called for.  For this one I added one teaspoon.

 Whisk together 3 egg yolks with 100 gm sugar plus the seeds scraped from one vanilla bean . . .

the yolk/sugar emulsion

and add this to the flour/butter mixture . . .

mixing just until it comes together.

like really coarse cornmeal

squeeze some to see that it's holding together

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour (or overnight if your schedule demands it.)

ready for the fridge

That part was easy.  What became a conundrum was the duja preparation which is meant to serve as a garnish for the baked cookies.  I determined that the word duja is a shortened form for gianduja, that classic mixture of nut (typically hazelnut) paste and chocolate (what many of you know as "Nutella").

Here the recipe calls for grinding 140 gm hazelnuts with 60 gm powdered sugar, followed by the addition of 35 gm milk chocolate and 2 carrés de chocolat noir (both melted.)

The carrés de chocolat noir threw me a bit, not knowing how much a carré weighs.  On to the trusty (?) internet to find a reference stating a small carré weighs 5 gm and a large one weighs 10 gm.  So, throwing caution to the wind, I decided 20 gm of chocolat noir just might do the trick.

ground hazelnuts, powdered sugar and chocolate, waiting to be melted


There was no way this mixture would hold together to be piped as any sort of garnish!

So I added another 60 gm of melted chocolate so that it at least formed a cohesive (sort of) ball.

I still had my doubts.  So I turned back to the internet and found a source describing DIY gianduja made by processing equal weights toasted hazelnuts and chopped milk chocolate to create a paste.

I did a little figuring and ended up adding an additional 80 gm of melted chocolate to my ever developing gianduja . . . . and my paste was born.

my duja paste

Time to bake the cookies!  An interesting note about this recipe - the yield is reported as pour 6/7 personnes.  Now what the heck is that supposed to mean?  Typically a cookie recipe tells you how many cookies you might expect, rather than how many people it will serve.

So for the instructed 5 mm thick, 6 cm round cookie I determined that each cookie weighs about 16 gm. The total dough quantity is 525 gm which should yield about 32 cookies per batch.  So  pour 6/7 personnes means everyone gets 4-5 cookies each.  A goofy way to look at it à mon avis!

6 cm round, dough about 5 mm thick

Heat the oven to 325º.  Roll the dough out to the above mentioned thickness and cut 6 cm rounds.  Place on a parchment lined sheet pan and put into the freezer for 10 minutes or so before baking for 12-15 minutes selon votre four.  Ahhhh - those oh so important words - depending on your oven!

ready for the oven
My cookies baked for about 18 minutes . . .

and came out nicely set and golden brown.

Once the cookies are cooled it's time for the garnish.  The recipe instructs one to pipe a dome of duja on each cookie, sprinkle on some chopped hazelnuts and then pop them in the fridge.  Then it mentions that one has the option of "enrobing" the cookies in chocolate (no further instruction as to how to pursue that one!).

My duja was definitely not pipe-able, so I rolled it out between two layers of plastic wrap and cut circles of a smaller diameter than the cookie.

I placed the duja round on the cookie but realized it wasn't going to stay put - there wasn't any chocolate-to-cookie sticking power.  I tried a little schmear of chocolate glaze on the cookie to act as glue, but no way.  I then sprinkled some hazelnut nougatine on top but knew that I was not going to be able to dip the whole thing in "enrobing" chocolate unless prepared for total demolition.

So I simply used some ganache I had in the fridge, squiggled some on top of the cookies, sprinkled some hazelnut nougatine on top and called it a day.  The cookies accompanied Steve to work the next day.

So much for sablés au praliné!  And the batch of duja?  Into the freezer along with the crushed tuiles from my last post.  Maybe I'll mix the two together and create something new!

Oh, and by the way, the flavor of these was OK but nothing to write home about.  Another recipe I would not make again.

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