I really like my optometrist and his office—I just saw him recently for my second check-up (wow, almost two years of living in LA already?) and I actually had fun. No, really! Instead of saying ‘do you prefer 1 or 2’ for various eyeglass prescriptions, he used fruits (apple or orange?). I was laughing so much during the exam that the Eye Puffs of Doom—er, I mean the pressured air to screen for glaucoma—were minimally startling. And I got re-educated in eye anatomy (aqueous vs. vitreous humor)—anatomy just geeks me out, period. I love it.
I don’t even remember how we got to the subject of cooking and baking, but we talked at length about it… and I made my mind up, right there and then, to bring in cookies for his office when I picked up my order of contact lenses. I bake all of the time anyway—and since James is constantly complaining that I’m going to either make him: a) fat and/or b) diabetic, I figured I could share the wealth. So on a bright and early Saturday morning, I pulled this recipe from a list of ones I’ve been meaning to make for a while and went for it!
I dropped the cookies off a few hours later and they looked genuinely happy to receive them.
“I can’t believe you remembered!” my optometrist said with a smile on his face. Totally made my day.
I actually ran off to do another errand in the same area and ended up walking past the office on my way back to my car, but I was too nervous to run in and ask how they liked the cookies… but judging by my friends’ reactions to the leftover batch at the Superbowl gathering I had the next day, I think they probably liked them?
The beautiful images for this particular recipe inspired me to actually purchase the cookie cutters with scalloped edges… so pretty! I’m sure I’ll find other uses for these cutters… right? Right?
All jokes aside, I had no issues following the recipe and felt no need to make any adjustments to any of the amounts. I did use the weight measurements as opposed to the volume ones (except for the small amounts), but only because I’m trying to wean myself off of volume recipes—I think replicating recipes will be much more accurate using this method.
I also tried cookies at different levels of thickness and I preferred the cookie dough rolled out to ¼ inch—then again, I also have the Sadistic Gas Oven of Overbakedom, so the thinner cookies might be more up your alley. I liked how they softened slightly the next day after being kept in a Tupperware yet didn’t lose any of the characteristic ‘shortbread’ consistency.
The cookies themselves are fantastic—I only used 100g of sugar to emphasize the bittersweet chocolate I used (60% cacao, Ghiradelli) and felt it made the cookies even easier to snack on because the sweetness didn’t linger on the tongue. I think it would be interesting to add espresso powder to the recipe next time I attempt to make it, namely because I’m not sure these cookies can get any more intensely chocolate than they already are!
Original Recipe: Smitten Kitchen
Bittersweet Chocolate Sablés
- 125 grams all-purpose flour
- 30 grams cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 100-130 grams granulated sugar (depending on your preference)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 100 grams bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped until almost powdery in a food processor
- Coarse sugar for sprinkling
- Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda into a bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter using a paddle attachment with a stand mixer.
- Add sugar and salt and mix on medium low (I used a setting of 4 on my Kitchenaid) for a few minutes. Usually 2-3 minutes gets the mixture to that creamy, fluffy consistency that works so well for dough.
- Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until combined (stir for ~15-20 sec. on the mixer).
- Add the dry ingredients and the grated/chopped bittersweet chocolate and mix until just combined. I added my dry ingredients at 3 separate intervals just to make sure all of the dry mix was incorporated into the wet.
- Extract the dough from the bowl, roll into a ball, wrap it with plastic/seran, and let rest in the fridge for 30-45 min.
- Heat oven to 350oF (or in my case, 325oF since my oven hates me).
- Sprinkle dough onto the counter or a nonstick work surface. Grab the dough from the fridge, unwrap it, and place it in the middle of your work surface. Now, gently use a rolling pin to roll the dough until it reaches a uniform ¼ inch thickness. (Be really careful and apply minimal pressure with each roll—the dough is still crumbly and will come apart easily.)
- Use your cookie cutter (mine is 2 in. in diameter) to imprint shapes onto the dough, then place the cut shapes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or a Silpat) one inch apart.
- When finished cutting out the pieces, crumple the leftover dough back into a ball with your hands and repeat the process until there is not enough dough left for one cookie!
- Sprinkle each cookie with coarse and/or decorative sugar. (Do not use regular or powdered sugar, as anything other than a coarse sugar will be reabsorbed into the cookie.)
- Bake for 10 minutes (in my case, 9).
- Remove the tray from the oven and enjoy the delicious wafts of pure chocolate heaven emitting from the freshly baked cookies. Let the cookies sit for a few minutes (I had them sit for 3) before removing them carefully and placing them on a cooking rack.
- Bring to your friendly neighborhood optometrist! (Last step is optional, but I’m sure your optometrist wouldn’t mind!)
- I could not testify to how long these keep in an airtight container, as mine were promptly gobbled up less than 2 days after I baked them. Enjoy!