Friday, March 30, 2012

We Interrupt This Trip to England for Bake Together with Abby Dodge: French Quarter Sables


Sometimes there is nothing worse than having to see someone’s vacation slides for weeks on end, so this post for Abby’s Bake Together probably came just in time.  With my trip and all the laundry afterwards, I had to let this one go for a while, but since Abby likes to wrap this up by the end of the month, I thought I’d better get baking.

This month’s recipe is for Parmesan and thyme sables.  Sables are a buttery shortbread type of cracker/cookie that can be either sweet or savory.  They have a short and crumbly texture which in my opinion makes them the perfect cocktail snack.

It is really hard to improve upon perfection, so I had to put my creativity cap on for this one.  Since I love the bright salty flavor of Parmesan I decided to embellish the recipe this time instead of changing it.

I started by adding some bleu cheese to the Parmesan to deepen the flavor.  I then added some dry mustard to kick up the tang just a little bit more, and then added the aromatic flavors of herbs de Provence and garlic to further enhance the flavors.  Finally I finished them off by rolling them in some finely chopped pecans for the sweet and slightly smoky flavor that they would add.

The resulting flavor definitely has French overtones, but the toasted pecans speak English with a southern accent, so I decided to give them a name which expresses these flavors.

So whether you decide to make my version or Abby’s original, give these a try this spring or summer.  They are really the perfect pairing for a frosty glass of iced tea, a big refreshing glass of Pimm’s or anything else you drink in the shade for that matter.






French Quarter Sables
 

1 – 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (6 ounces)

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 – 1/2 ounces bleu cheese crumbles

1 ounce shredded Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 7 pieces

2 tablespoons plus 1 – 1/2 teaspoons ice water

1/3 cup pecan pieces



In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, mustard, garlic, pepper, bleu cheese, Parmesan, sea salt and herbs de Provence (a blend of lavender, sage, basil, savory, thyme and rosemary); pulse 10 - 12 times to blend well.

Add chilled butter to the bowl and pulse 8 – 9 times until the butter pieces are a bit bigger than pea size.  Add the water and pulse again to incorporate until clumps just begin to appear.   These two steps can also be prepared by hand in a large mixing bowl with a fork or pastry cutter if you don't have a food processor.

Pour mixture out on a clean dry surface (it will be crumbly at this point).  With the heel of your hand smear the mixture away from you about three times, scrape up the dough, turn it 45 degrees and repeat the smearing a couple of more times to make a cohesive dough.   To see Abby's photos on how to do this, please click here for her instructions.

Scrape it up once more and press it together.  Roll it on the counter making an even cylinder about 7” long. 

Spread the pecans on a clean dry surface.  In one motion, slowly roll and press the dough onto the pecans.  Tightly wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 3 hours or up to 2 days.

At this point dough can be frozen for up to a month for later use.  All you have to do is let it thaw on the counter for an hour or so before slicing and baking.  Baked sables can also be frozen in an airtight container and eaten later.  Abby suggests that you reheat them for a few minutes at 325 degrees to freshen them up a bit for optimum flavor.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat.  Cut chilled dough into 1/4” thick slices and place on prepared baking sheet 1” apart; bake in preheated oven for 16 – 18 minutes or until sables are brown around the edges.

Makes about 20 sables

If you decide to make my version and roll them in nuts be warned that the more you handle them, the more the nuts will fall off.

If you'd like to join #Baketogether feel free to jump in anytime.  I know time is a bit short for this month but you still have plenty of time to bake a batch of these simple little sables and post your version.  Anyone is welcome to join in.  The more the merrier!
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