f you make them small enough, these simple little French sugar cookies hit seductively in the pleasure zone just intensely enough that they stand up to the fruits, nuts, candies, chocolates, breads, boozy almond paste stuffed prunes and figs and otherwise rich friandises that are available on the 13 desserts platter. They always come back for more. The big flavor comes from almond flour and the good stuff scraped from the inside of a vanilla pod. If there is any recipe you must try this season, this one is it.La Pate Sablée For 3 dozen seductive small Christmas sablés or two sweet tarte crusts:
1 1/3 cup sifted flour (200 g)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar (120 g)
1/3 cup powdered almonds (40 g)
3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature (160 g)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks, room temperature
5 tablespoons water
1. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife, and scrape the interior of the pod with a spoon to recuperate the paste from the inside. Reserve the paste for use in the recipe, and put the pod in your sugar jar. It will infuse a beautiful vanilla smell into your sugar.
2. Put the flour, 1/3 cup of the powdered sugar and the powdered almonds into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk these dry ingredients together. Reserve.
3. Combine the butter, salt, the remaining powdered sugar, the vanilla bean paste and 5 tablespoons of water in the bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the two egg yolks and fully incorporate them into the batter. Add the previously measured dry ingredients all at once and combine on low speed, stopping every few seconds to scrape the flour down from the sides of the bowl with a spatula. You may want to finish this with the spatula if the paddle is not combining everything evenly.
4. Raise the paddle, scrape the sides down with a spatula, and push the soft dough together into a ball. Place it on a sheet of plastic wrap, fold the wrap over the ball and flatten it. Chill for 1 hour minimum (or up to 2 days).
5. When you're ready to break out the cookie cutters: Heat the oven to 175C or 350F. Cut off ¼ to ½ of the dough, returning the rest to the refrigerator, and roll out the chilled dough onto baking paper to a thickness of 1/8th inch. Cut shapes with cookie cutters, placing them on an ungreased cookie sheet along the way. If the dough warms up and becomes too soft to remove from the cutters, place the rolled out dough on its parchment in the refrigerator for a few minutes to stiffen it again. Bake for 5-8 minutes. Baking time will depend on the size and thickness of the cookie. When they begin to brown at the edges, they’re done. Let cool and decorate sparingly with kirsch spiked royal icing.
Lucy's Kitchen Notebook
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(Images: Lucy Vanel of Lucy's Kitchen Notebook)