Vanilla Sable Cookies

These French Vanilla Sable Cookies are rich and tender, with a delicate crumb and a rim of crispy sugar. They’re simple, lightly sweet, and the perfect companion for a warm cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea.

A plate of classic vanilla bean French sable cookies.

So far, I’ve managed to share three recipes based on French classics this month, and these French Vanilla Sable Cookies make a fourth. It’s almost like I miss traveling or something–how about you? And if we can’t fly to France, you can bet your bottom dollar that we’re getting as close as we can with our baking.

Imagine your classic icebox cookie, or a slice and bake, or whatever you like to call them. This is their chic, classy cousin. The texture is short, the flavor lightly sweet and intensely buttery. The recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan, who is magic in the kitchen. This one is from her book Baking Chez Moi, which is well worth purchasing.

A plate of classic vanilla bean French sable cookies.

How to Make French Vanilla Sable Cookies

  • In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer combine the granulated sugar and vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans and rub them together with your fingers until they are well combined and fragrant.
  • Add the butter (it should be at room temperature, but not oily), powdered sugar, and salt. Mix them together on low speed with a paddle attachment or on medium-low if using a hand mixer. Stir them just until combined and creamy-don’t allow the mixture to become light and fluffy.
  • Add the egg yolk and beat it in for 1 minute.
  • Dump in all of the flour at once and stir it on low until the flour has just been mixed in. You may want to stir in the last bit of flour by hand to avoid over-mixing, which activates the gluten and makes the sables less tender.
  • Divide the dough into two equal portions (you can use a scale to make them exact), then place each of them on a sheet of plastic wrap.
  • Shape each half of the dough into a log about 9 inches long and 3-4″ across. Wrap it well with the plastic wrap.
  • Chill the dough for at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days.

Edging and Baking the Sable Cookies

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Sprinkle a layer of coarse-grained sugar (see notes about this) on the plastic wrap that you’ve removed from the dough.
  • With a pastry brush, use the egg whites left to coat the sides of the cylinder of dough.
  • Roll the dough in the sugar until all of the sides are coated.
  • With a sharp, straight-edged knife to slice the dough into rounds about 1/2″ thick.
  • Lay the sliced cookies on the baking sheet, leaving at least 2″ between them.
  • Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until the bottom edges are a very faint golden brown. The centers may look slightly underbaked, but they’ll continue to bake a bit after you’ve removed them from the oven.
  • Take the cookies out of the oven and remove them to a cooling rack and cool completely before eating.
  • Store the cookies in an airtight container or bag at room temperature.
A delicate, crumbled vanilla french sable cookie

Recipe Notes & Tips

  • I used vanilla bean paste for these cookies, but you can also scrape out the inside of a vanilla bean with a sharp, straight-edged knife and rub the beans into the sugar.
  • While most cookie recipes call for unsalted butter, I prefer to use salted for a simple cookie like this. There’s a certain depth of flavor that salted butter gives that can’t be replicated by adding salt.
  • Turn the dough every 15-20 minutes during the first hour of the chilling time to avoid a flat side on your cookies. You can also gently roll out any “edges” that have developed on your roll of dough.
  • For the sugar that is rolled along the sides of the dough, I like to use turbinado. However, you can also use sparkling sugar, demerara, or any other coarse-grained sugar you’d like or have on hand.
  • When baking the cookies, watch them closely to not overbake them. Every oven varies in temperature, so you may need to adjust the bake time.
  • If you’re not sure if the cookies are under or overbaked, you can gently lift the edge of one with a metal spatula to peek at the bottom. If it’s a light golden brown, the cookies are baked.
  • While a sliced cylinder of dough is a classic way to make sables, you can also use this dough for cut out cookies in place of a sugar cookie dough.
A tender, crumbly vanilla sable cookie

Other Recipes You May Enjoy:

French Hot Chocolate
Chocolate Dipped Viennese Whirls
Chocolate Dipped Viennese Whirls
Baked Chocolate Tart
Baked Chocolate Tart
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A plate of classic vanilla bean sables

French Sable Cookies


  • Author: Rebecca Neidhart
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes, + 3 hours chill time
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 22 minutes
  • Yield: Approximately 3036 cookies 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2/3 cup (66 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, scraped, or 2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
  • 2 sticks (8 oz., 228 g) butter, salted or unsalted (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) powdered sugar
  • 1/41/2 tsp. salt (see notes)
  • 2 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour

Instructions

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer combine the granulated sugar and vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans and rub them together with your fingers until they are well combined and fragrant.

Add the butter (it should be at room temperature, but not oily), powdered sugar, and salt. Mix them together on low speed with a paddle attachment or on medium-low if using a hand mixer. Stir just until combined and creamy-don’t allow the mixture to become light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolk and beat it in for 1 minute. Dump in all of the flour at once and stir it on low until the flour has just been mixed in. You may want to stir in the last bit of flour by hand to avoid over-mixing.

Divide the dough into two equal portions (you can use a scale to make them exact), then place each of them on a sheet of plastic wrap.

Shape each half of the dough into a log about 9 inches long and 3-4″ across. Wrap it well with the plastic wrap.

Chill the dough for at least 3 hours, or up to 2 days.

Notes

  • I used vanilla bean paste for these cookies, but you can also scrape out the inside of a vanilla bean with a sharp, straight-edged knife and rub the beans into the sugar.
  • While most cookie recipes call for unsalted butter, I prefer to use salted for a simple cookie like this. There’s a certain depth of flavor that salted butter gives that can’t be replicated by adding salt. If you use salted butter, reduce the added salt to 1/4 tsp.
  • Turn the dough every 15-20 minutes during the first hour of the chilling time to avoid a flat side on your cookies. You can also gently roll out any “edges” that have developed on your roll of dough.
  • For the sugar that is rolled along the sides of the dough, I like to use turbinado. However, you can also use sparkling sugar, demerara, or any other coarse-grained sugar you’d like or have on hand.
  • When baking the cookies, watch them closely to not overbake them. Every oven varies in temperature, so you may need to adjust the bake time.
  • If you’re not sure if the cookies are under or overbaked, you can gently lift the edge of one with a metal spatula to peek at the bottom. If it’s a light golden brown, the cookies are baked.
  • While a sliced cylinder of dough is a classic way to make sables, you can also use this dough for cut out cookies in place of a sugar cookie dough.
  • Category: cookies
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: French

Keywords: French sable cookies, vanilla sables, vanilla bean, cookies

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