What’s your favorite part of the week? When I was a child I lived for Saturday mornings. It meant sleeping in past 6:30 am and watching at least an hour (or two) of cartoons and old movies before my parents called my sisters and me to the kitchen for breakfast. We each had our own bedroom but we always found each other on those early Saturday mornings. Together, in my room or one of theirs, we would watch the Smurfs, Transformers, Scooby Doo and whatever old musical happened to be playing on the TNT network.
During my teens I loved Friday afternoons. I often stayed up late for homework during most of the week but I took breaks on Fridays. I would linger at school to socialize with my friends or I would meet my best friend who lived a block away and we’d walk to the neighborhood park after stopping at the corner store for a snack. Most of the time our younger sisters tagged along with us so we were always a crew of 5. Then my parents gave me a car when I got my driver’s license so that widened the borders beyond walking distance and allowed me and the crew to visit other friends or drive to the mall.
These days the weekends are just as special as ever. The days may not be as free from responsibility as those from my youth but I still fill the hours with activities I enjoy: I get to spend more time with my husband, I am able to catch up on exercise and of course, I get to cook. A stark contrast to Mondays when the days seem too short to get anything done and dinner is usually what was leftover from Sunday or something that can be put together in minutes, the end-of-the-week meals are more carefully prepared and might involve a pre- and/or after-dinner course.
You might have noticed my obsession with crackers lately–they really are so fun to make at home. This time, however, I made something a little different. Unlike the simpler seeded crackers I shared with you recently, these sables are a bit more indulgent (but no more difficult to prepare). There’s no shortage of butter, Irish cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano and pine nuts in these refined little shortbread biscuits but trust me, you won’t mind at all. They’re crumbly, flaky and were meant to be paired with a glass of wine. Save the regular crackers for another day–these sables call for a special occasion…like the weekend.
- 9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne (I didn’t taste this at all, would add more next time)
- ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
- 7 ounces (14 tbsp) cold unsalted butter; cut in cubes
- 3½ ounces (1½ cups) finely grated sharp cheddar (I used Dubliner Irish cheddar)
- 1½ ounces (1/2 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup pine nuts, lightly dry toasted in a small pan (2-3 minutes over med-low heat)
- 1 large egg yolk mixed with pinch of paprika and ½ teaspoon of water to make a glaze.
- Kosher or sea salt for sprinkling (I used very very little Himalayan pink salt)
- Pulse the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, cayenne and baking powder in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is in small pieces, about 8-10 pulses. Add the cheeses and pulse again to combine then add the egg and pulse again until the mixture just starts to come together. (This took several pulses for me and I stopped just when the mixture started looking like dough and large and small clumps started forming.)
- Transfer the dough to a lightly-floured surface. Sprinkle the nuts on top of the dough and start kneading everything together. The nuts will stray and fall back on the work surface but just keep pressing them into the dough. Knead with the heel of your hand for a couple of minutes until you have a cohesive dough. Shape it into a flat disk and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours until the butter is firm. I divided my dough in two and froze half the batch for later use. It’s also easier to work with the smaller piece of dough.
- Preheat your oven to 400℉, positioning the top and bottom thirds of the oven (I used only one sheet so I baked only on the lower rack). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to ¼-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, stamp out the rounds and lay them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps and stamp out more rounds until you’ve used up all of the dough. Brush the tops of the rounds with the glaze and sprinkle lightly with kosher or sea salt.
- Bake until the sablés are golden brown and thoroughly cooked inside, about 12-14 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through the cooking time. Test for doneness by breaking one of the biscuits in half to see if the center looks doughy. If so, continue to bake them for another 1-2 minutes but be careful not to over bake them. Mine were ready at 12-13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before serving or storing. I think these were best the day they were made but they were still very nice the next day after they were lightly toasted in a toaster oven.