The “sable” (pronounced saab-luh’)has its origins in Caen in the Normandy province of France. Its name means “sand” due to its crumbly and sandy texture. The truly French version of this cookie is eaten alone and not sandwiched together with ganache or other fillings – not that it would be such a bad idea!
Some say this delicate cookie is reminiscent of the American icebox cookie. I tend to disagree for one reason – “decadent flavor”. The sable may look quite humble, but the flavors are divine and after one cookie, your sweet tooth feels quite satisfied.
I tend to dress mine up a bit with a slightly ruffled edge and a dusting of coarse sanding sugar on top. Traditionally the dough is rolled into logs and frozen and then slightly defrosted, sliced and baked. The result is a somewhat round cookie, but I prefer to roll the dough and give each cookie a nice ruffled edge with a cookie cutter. The result: a much more elegant and precise cookie.
I think this type of cookie is deserving of two traditional flavors – French Vanilla and Chocolate Orange Espresso. I can’t say that I love one more than the other. The one I choose on any given day is really based on mood.
The French Vanilla has a browned butter flavor with a sweet crunch. The Chocolate Orange Espresso is quite decadent as well – just in a different way. The chocolate and orange are quite pronounced and the espresso gives it the rich darkness that I was looking for in such a cookie. Even if you are not a coffee-drinker, you will most likely think the richness you taste is the chocolate itself.
Whichever you choose, they are both quite indulgent in taste and flavor and easily disguise themselves in their humble display. The French are decidedly ingenious in their creation of pastries and cookies – from quite elegant and complex to quite simplistic. But the taste is always perfection!