Simple and Classic – French Vanilla Sables


Last weekend I spent one day visiting my ‘rents and another visiting my MIL. I came bearing food and treats. I thought the applesauce bread would be the hit, but the French Vanilla Sables were the winner. Sables are a classic French shortbread cookie, rich and sandy. This is a recipe I found in Dorie Greenspan’s “Dorie’s Cookies”. She spoke at a local indie book store. She’s a delightful pixie of a person. She shared some great stories, tips and cookies! My favorite tip is to roll out the dough on parchment paper and THEN put it into the fridge or freezer. I’ve always struggled pounding the hardened dough, to roll it out. This makes perfect sense ! Chill the dough and then cut out your cookies. You can freeze them after you bake, in case you need help with your self-control!


2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature

½ cup sugar

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

½ tsp. fine sea salt

2 large egg yolks, at room temperature

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

Sanding sugar, for sprinkling


Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and the salt on medium speed for about 3 minutes. If you have a stand mixer, use it. Three minutes can seem like an eternity.  The mixture should be smooth but not fluffy.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and, one by one, beat in the yolks, followed by the vanilla. Turn off the mixer, add the flour all at once and turn the mixer to the lowest speed. You don’t want flour flying throughout your kitchen! Mix just until the flour disappears into the dough. Give the dough a couple of turns with a spatula.  That’s it!

Turn the dough out on the counter and divide it in half. If you are going to roll out the dough, form the dough into two discs. Roll the dough out between two pieces of parchment paper to about ¼ inch thick. Slide the parchment-sandwiched-dough onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least an hour, or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out the rolled dough.  A simple circle or rectangle is perfect. Don’t use anything too detailed. The dough won’t hold a complicated shape. Press sparkling sugar onto the tops prior to baking for a fun crunch. Start checking the cookies after 10 minutes. You want them slightly browned on the bottom.

If you don’t want to cut out cookies, you can form the dough into 9 inch logs. Wrap them and freeze for 3 hours, and up to 2 months.  I use the parchment to help me roll the cookies. They don’t have to be perfectly round.When you are ready to bake, slice the logs about 1/3 inch thick.  I eyeball the thickness.  Again, press some sparkling sugar onto the tops. Bake one sheet at a time on the center rack of a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes. Check the bottom of a cookie. It should be slightly browned. It could take more or less depending on the thickness.

Every oven has hot spots. So, to prevent (I hope) uneven cooking, I like to turn the baking sheets around halfway through the cooking process. You want the cookies baked evenly. Sometime one side of the sheet can brown quicker than the other. I set the timer and then turn. Reset the timer. I also bake all my cookies on parchment. When they are done, I slide the parchment off the baking sheet onto my counter or a rack to cool.
These are perfect with that wintry afternoon cup of tea. Enjoy!

2 thoughts on “Simple and Classic – French Vanilla Sables

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