Simple Eats – Macha Sablé II
Chinese New Year 2011 Baking Part 3
Second bake of these delicious french cookies (pronounced SAH-blay) within the month. 2 weeks back, I test-baked this recipe from Keiko Ishida’s “Okashi – Sweet Treats Made with love” and found them to be rather lovely. They resemble very much Pierre Hermé’s “Chocolate Sparklers” from Dorie Greenspan’s “Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé“, just that these are adapted with a oriental twist with macha powder added. Not to mention that macha is packed with anti-oxidants make them healthier than Hermé’s chocolate ones.
J’s mummy even made an “order” for a tin of these for CNY! Now that’s very reassuring : )
Here’s the original recipe again from “Okashi”(makes 50 cookies)
- 240g pastry flour (chilled)
- 15g macha powder
- 150g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 130g icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- granulated sugar
- 1 egg white
- green tea leaves, optional
- sift flour and macha powder together twice. set aside.
- beat butter, icing sugar and salt together until soft & creamy.
- add egg yolks and mix well.
- add flour & macha powder mixture and fold in with spatula and transfer dough to cling wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 15 mins.
- divide dough in two portions and shape into logs about 3.5cm in diameter.
- preheat the oven to 150 °C.
- wrap lops with parchment paper and refrigerate until firm then slice into 7mm thick rounds.If not using immediately, wrap log with cling film and freeze. Cookie dough can be kept up to 2 months in the freezer.
- dip edges with granulated sugar.
- place rounds at least 1/2 inch apart from each other on baking sheet lined with baking paper and brush the top with egg white and top with leaves or powder, if desired.
- bake in a preheated oven for 25 mins.
- leave to cool completely on wire rack before serving or storing in airtight container.
Then comes the modifications I made to the recipe.
- Pastry flour is hard to come by in Singapore, so I substituted it with cake flour which worked extremely well.
- I omitted the addition of salt as I want the cookies to be sweet. Forget about the savoury dimension.
- I also omitted the egg white wash in step 9 as I think this is the reason to cause my 1st trial bake batch to turn brown. I think egg white wash is suppose to prevent the top from crackling and imbue a glossy look on the cookies. But I thought the cookies look more “rustic” without it. : )
- I did not roll the dough into a log but rather just left the divided lumps into 2 mixing bowls and refrigerate them as it is. This is because I wanted to roll out the dough and use a cookie cutter to cut out the circular discs instead. I used a pair of chopsticks to guide the rolling pin to ensure even thickness.
- I omitted the embellishment of green tea leaves as well as it would introduce a tinge of bitterness and alter the crumbly texture of the cookies slightly. But I want the cookies all sweet!
Some tips to share based on my experience with this recipe and reading from others
- Place the dough using metal bowls. this would help speed up the chilling process
- Work fast as the dough rapidly softens under room temperature due to the high butter content.
- Use coarse-grained sugar for your cut-out cookies to cart-wheel over if you a more dramatic “glittery” effect. Having said that, granulated sugar is good enough for me for that sandy “sablé” effect. If you have children at home, engage them with the cookie-cutting and sugar cart-wheeling process. Its lotsa fun! : )
- Do leave some space around each cookie on the baking tray as they tend to spread slightly during baking. But they are not as bad as those “spoon-drop” or “toll-house” cookies. Everyone is trying to complete some CNY baking within the shortest time. The best bet to test-bake a batch of 6 first (like what I did in for my first batch) and observe how much they spread and then adjust accordingly.
- The intention of the granulated sugar is for the sandy texture on the rim but it does add a bit to the sweetness as well. So cut down on the icing sugar if you want a more subdued but healthier version. Likewise, increase the macha powder for more aromatic cookies.
- If more soft and buttery cookies are desired, increase the butter. Having said that, this is to be done with great caution as more butter would make the dough softer and thus harder to work with. On the contrary, if more crunchy cookies are desired, increase the baking time slightly.
- Fold in the flour and macha powder by mechanical means of a spatula instead of with the mixer. Incorporate the dry ingredients until the dough is just mixed. Do not overmix as this would toughen the dough making the cookies hard and lose their crumbly texture.
- If you are shaping the dough into a cylindrical log and slicing it later, you can consider rolling the dough log over granulated sugar before slicing. This would help to save time on cart-wheeling the cut dough dics over sugar one at a time.
I’m pretty happy with the results from this second batch. I wouldn’t say it ran like clock-work but the overall process was much more smooth sailing than the first. You can read about my test-bake for this recipe here where more photos can be found.
For variation, macha powder can be replaced by dutch-processed cocoa powder to recreate Pierre Hermé’s “Chocolate Sparklers”. All vanilla and butter version is simple but delicious, but be sure to use very good vanilla extract and roll over demerara . In Dorie Greenspan’s words, these cookies will taste “rich and sophisticated and will be as delicate as fussily made petits fours”, but they are really “icebox cookies” … and the best ones ever!
I’m submitting this recipe for Aspiring Bakers #3: My Favorite CNY Cookie (Jan 2011) generously hosted by J3ss Kitch3n. This is such a great platform for like-minded baking folks to share recipes and ideas which make the hobby all the more fun!
Now back to the baking!