Petits Sablés - recipe and description below.
Some time ago, you may recall, I received a generous sample of wonderful Ardenne butter from @Kirkfood. It has been some months, but I have finally used it all (I know, what a chore, haha!), and would like to share the results with you.
The first time I tried it, I slathered it on no-knead bread with fleur de sel, and later I used it to make puff pastry. The puff pastry, in turn, became mille feuille and winter vegetable strudel.
When I had my friends Thanh and An over for lunch, I wanted a butter-friendly meal. I made Nigella's delicious Irish stew, which is supposed to be served with lots of bread and butter. I tried the no-knead bread again, and made a gateau Breton for dessert.
Because I was feeling especially creative and dorky, I shaped the butter into a dinky little heart shape.
Heart-shaped, topped with Murray river salt.
The no-knead bread, made in a smaller pot.
That bread is totally addictive! I explained to An how to make it, and apparently he's been baking bread himself back in Canberra. Yay!
Gateau Breton, or Brittany Cake, is a very rich and buttery affair. Nigella's version (How to be a Domestic Goddess) contains 4 simple ingredients - butter, sugar, flour and egg yolks. I thought it would be a fantastic way to try out more of that butter! Looking at the picture in Nigella's book, I thought these would be crisp and short, and I was surprised that it turned out soft and dense.
I quite liked this, but wasn't blown away, probably I was hoping for something more biscuit-like. It goes well with tea or coffee, and apparently it tastes just like German Christmas cookies! So there you go.
Diamonds of golden Gateau Breton - Thanh and I were trying to figure out ways to arrange them artistically, hehe.
The next thing I made with the butter (a few weeks later) was American-style cookies! I used the dough from this recipe, omitting the chocolate and nuts. I split the dough into two, adding chopped milk chocolate to one half.
I left the other half plain, formed them into balls, and rolled them in a mixture of castor sugar and cinnamon. My inspiration was the dee-licious cinnamon-sugar cookies from Mrs. Fields.
Sweet balls (ooer!). They have to be squished flat before baking.
The chocolate cookies turned out like this...
Does this look familiar? Just look up at my header!
And these are the cinnamon-sugar cookies!
I was very, very pleased with both the chocolate and cinnamon cookies! The flavour of the butter really came through, and the cookies had a tiny touch of salt, which really brought out the flavours. My only issue with the cookies is that they were quite cakey, and not as crispy as I like, especially the next day. I think this is because the water content in the butter makes the finished cookies soft. Apparently, replacing some of the butter in cookies with vegetable shortening can improve its texture, but that is an experiment for another day. (Whatever you do, don't do what one recipe online suggested and replace the butter with butter-flavoured Crisco. Yurgh!!!!)
The final (and perhaps best!) thing I made with the butter were petits sablés, aka little French shortbreads. I adapted a recipe I got from Duncan, who himself paraphrased the original recipe - taken from La Bonne Cuisine by Madame E. Saint-Ange and translated by Paul Aratow. What a complicated provenance for such a simple recipe!
Into a food processor, tip 125g flour, 100g butter at room temperature, 60g caster sugar, 1 egg yolk and the seeds of 1 vanilla pod.
Whizz to combine. Gradually add 1 tbs of cool water and process briefly until the mixture comes together. Tip onto a floured surface (I used glad wrap)...
... and form into a disc.
Wrap the dough up in glad wrap and chill for 30 mins.
Roll the dough into a log...
...and slice into pieces about 5mm thick. (This is easier than rolling and cutting out shapes, and excess dough can't be reworked to the same quality).
Place the biscuits onto a lined baking tray, sprinkle with extra castor sugar, and bake at 180C for 10-15 minutes. The dough should not colour more than a "nice golden tint".
Slide the biscuits onto a rack to cool. Be careful as the dough is very fragile when warm.
Ta-dah! Look how cute these little light golden coins are!
I served these to some friends for afternoon tea (with the cardamom and cinnamon buns, actually), and they went down a treat. I brought leftovers to a bloggers' dinner that night, and people seemed to like them! I was told they taste like those Danish butter cookies you get in the blue tins. I *love* those cookies, and I loved these too. I'll be making them again at Christmas! Thank-you to Duncan for the awesome recipe.
And that is what I did with the butter. Big thank-you to Kirkfood for the great butter!