Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lemon, Pepper and Parmesan Sables - #baketogether

I was super excited about Abby Dodge’s March #baketogether project – savory sables. In my mind, French Sables are the ultimate, buttery icebox cookie. Ooooooh la la!

My variation on Abby's recipe is lemon, pepper and Parmesan because those are three flavors I especially enjoy together. The brightness of the citrus, the warmth of the pepper and the nutty Parmesan all balanced out by Maldon, currently my fav sea salt. Maldon is expensive, but I use it sparingly as a treat. One box lasts a VERY long time.  My oldest said he loved "those parmesan cracker things" - I have to agree that they are delicious, whatever you call them.  I'd like to try a bleu cheese-bacon combo on my next pass (though I would omit the salt entirely in a bacon version).    

Sables just out of the oven - cooling on a kitchen window sill.

I will note, again, that #baketogether is open to all bakers. Simply follow the clear directions on Abby's site, get inspired and get baking! It's fun to participate and see all the clever spins on Abby's easy-to-follow, instructional recipes. I would definitely head over to Abby's site to see this month's technique in pics before you try this recipe. As a side note, I also use a food processor for pie dough and love the results - very consistent.

You can see that my sables are not perfectly cut - lopsided! - but they are a lovely, nutty brown color.
And that made a very happy baker.

Lemon, Pepper and Parmesan Sables 
Makes 29 cracker size sables or 40 coin size nibbles

1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) unbleached, all purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 teaspoon sea salt (fine grain)
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 medium lemon
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 7 slices, well chilled
2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons very cold water (if your dough is DRY (like mine) add water in 1/2 tsp increments until desired consistency is reached)
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional, but recommended, and I prefer Maldon for sprinkling)

To make the dough:

1. Put the flour, cheese, salt and black pepper in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter pieces are slightly larger than pea size, about 10 to 12 pulses depending on your machine. Drizzle the water evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to form moist crumbs that are just beginning to clump together, about 8 or 9 more pulses depending on your machine.

2. Dump the moist crumbs onto the unfloured counter and gather into a pile. With the heel of you hand, push and gently smear the crumbs away from you until they start to come together in a cohesive dough. Two or three ‘smears’ should do the trick. Using a bench scraper, gather the dough together and turn it about 45 degrees and give it one or two more smears.  Gather the dough together and shape the dough into a 7 1/4-inch long and 2 1/4 -inch wide rectangle using the bench scraper to make the sides nice and straight.

OR, create a rounded log that can be cut into bite size coins. I prefer this size to serve with wine or cocktails. The video link is helpful, but I normally just place the dough in a sheet of waxed paper/plastic wrap and, using my hands, roll the log back-and-forth until I have a nicely shaped log.

Either way, wrap the log tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 3 hours, or up to 2 days.

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment. Using a thin, sharp knife, cut the rectangle logs, or round logs, into 1/4-inch slices and arrange about 1 inch apart (they don’t spread much at all) on the prepared sheets. If making “coins,” you will need to turn your log after each cut to ensure the shape of the “coins” is consistent.

If you like, sprinkle the sables with your favorite salt salt just before they go in the oven.

Bake, one sheet at a time, until nutty brown around the edges, 16 to 18 minutes. Serve slightly warm or room temperature.

4. The dough can be shaped and frozen for up to a month and then thawed for about an hour on the counter or in the refrigerator overnight. Likewise, tuck the baked and cooled sables in a heavy duty zip top bag and stash them in the freezer. Thaw at room temperature and warm them for a few minutes at 325°F to refresh the flavors.

Happy Baking!