Right now, I am stuck with too many cookies. All I can say is that I bake when I am stressed. You know, the CPA exam studying will do that to you, and there is only so much of “share the love” you can do when you’re virtually pounding out 3 dozen cookies every other day.
I have stopped baking so much partially because of this, but more so because I have hit that point where I learned as much as I can as an amateur baker that baking another brownie doesn’t really excite me anymore. That’s why, I posit, I have to make so many darn cookies–that batch just doesn’t excite me the way it used to a few years ago!
I have tried the cake decorating route. I threw my hands over the straight-up cooking route. I am starting to dabble a little more in food photography. Nothing has quite found ground yet, so where do I go from here?
For now, I am just spending time with friends and showing them how to bake things like these chocolate sables. My friend had chosen to make them because they were so beautifully elegant. Then again, what of Pierre Herme’s is not beautiful or elegant?
While these aren’t exactly the beginner’s cookies since they require patience and skill in piping, they are lovely, delicate, and crumbly–the kind of cookies your girl friends would love you a thousand times over if you gave them a box of them :)
P.S. If you do decide to make these for a chocoholic, do forewarn them that these taste lightly of chocolate otherwise, they might be very very sad.
Viennese Chocolate Sables
From Pierre Herme’s Chocolate Desserts
1 3/4 cups + 1 1/2 tablespoons (260 g) all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons (30 g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
2 sticks plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (250 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (100 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons lightly beaten egg whites (lightly beat 2 large egg whites, then measure out 3 tablespoons)
Position the racks to divide the ovens into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Fit a pastry bag with a medium-sized open star tip and keep it close at hand. Note: the tip should be crenelated, but its piping hole should be open and somewhat straight, rather than curved and tightly rounded. (I wanted larger cookies, so I chose a Wilton 1M.)
Whisk together the flour and cocoa and keep close at hand. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a whisk until it is light and creamy–for the recipe to be successful, the butter must be very soft. Whisk in the sugar and the salt, then stir in the egg whites. Don’t be concerned when the mixture separates; it will come together when you add in the dry ingredients. Gradually add the flour-cocoa and blend only until it is incorporated. You don’t want to work the mixture too much once the flour is added, a light touch is what gives these cookies their characteristic crumbliness.
Because the dough is thick and somewhat heavy, it’s best to work with it in batches. Spoon about 1/3 of the dough into the pastry bag. Pipe the dough into W-shaped cookies, each about 2 inches long and 1 1/4 inch apart onto the prepared baking sheets. In reality, the W is closer to the letter’s name than its look–it’s best to pipe two attached U’s, so that you have a kind of wave. But don’t worry too much about this–the cookies will taste fine regardless.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes–no more–or until they are set but neither brown or hard. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature. Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure that you don’t put the to-be-baked cookies on hot baking sheets.
Before serving you can dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar.
Additional Piping Advice
1. Pressure control is key. You want to apply pressure consistently, so that you can move the bag in a free and easy glide. This will require some practice.
2. Lightly touch the surface of the parchment with the tip, and glide the tip along the surface in and up-and-down motion.
3. Move your whole arm, not your wrist, as you pipe.
4. Stop squeezing, and lift the tip away before you begin your next cookie.