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Today is Food Revolution Day, as put forward by Jamie Oliver in his continued quest to encourage people to practice their cooking skills and cook not just for themselves but for others. To quote the website, it is “a global day of action for people to make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills.”

For Doristas, it meant that this week’s assignment was an open-ended one. We were allowed to select whatever recipe we wished to make. All that was asked of us was that we “cook it, share it.” A wonderful idea, really, because one of the best parts of making anything homemade – bread, dessert, entree, whatever – is being able to share it with others. Most of what I make tends to only be shared with Geordie, but that’s where blogging about French Fridays comes in: I’m able to share it with anyone who stumbles across the post!

I’ve missed the last two Fridays in blogging only. I made the dishes, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them yet. Still working on that. But this one I didn’t want to slip to the wayside. I knew straightaway that I was going to make a dessert of some kind, because desserts are so easy for Geordie to take the work, making them quite shareable, and one of the most shareable desserts I know of are cookies!

Specifically, cocoa sablés.

cocoasables

Remember the olive sablés we made a couple months ago? Well, these are a more traditional sablé, still with the sandy texture but this time flavored with dark cocoa. They’re not overly sweet, but they are a little decadent and I bet they would be delicious served as ice cream sandwiches (as Dorie herself suggests). They are also easy to make, and as I got about 40 from my batch, there are plenty of them for sharing!

I’m afraid I didn’t take many pictures of the process, but it really wasn’t necessary. This is cookie-making at its most basic – and, in my opinion, good cookies are almost always simple and basic.

Butter and sugar are creamed together. Vanilla is added. In goes a mixture of flour, cocoa, and salt. I decided to add in the optional chopped chocolate bits. And thus, the mixing is done. It took me longer to chop the chocolate than it did to mix all the ingredients together.

But now we must wait. The dough is divided into two parts, and each part is rolled into a log and wrapped in plastic. They must sit in the fridge for three hours, thus delaying our chocolate fix.

But that’s okay! My logs went into the fridge around 3:30; by the time dinner was over at 7, they were more than ready to be sliced and baked. After 15 minutes, Geordie and I had a lovely, chocolaty after-dinner treat.

These sablés are very rich. They go down much easier with some milk! As Geordie said, they’re terrific as a dessert – as a slightly sweet closing to a meal – but maybe a little jarring as a snack. As a cookie, I really enjoyed both making them and eating them. I intend to try the basic butter sablé in the near future, because I am finding that I really, really like sablés. I’m pretty sure they’re now my favorite cookies.

Geordie took most of the cocoa sablés to work today – and brought home zero. Yay! Success!

As I said, most of what I make is shared only with Geordie, and that is especially true with the French Friday assignments. It was really nice to send him off to work with these beautiful, delicious cookies. Homemade cookies were made for sharing!

I hope to be able to be a little more involved with the Food Revolution next year. Right now, I’m still not feeling up to cooking as much as I was before. I do what I can, but often, I’m either too tired or just not interested in what I had planned to cook. Raw vegetables still make me queasy. Once they’re cooked, I’m fine! But I have to get them cooked first. I’m hoping I get over that soon.

Anyway, this week’s FFwD assignment was a lot of fun, and because we got to choose our recipes, the Doristas went all out and picked some really good ones! Check out the links to hear their stories and see their delicious dishes.

Happy cooking!

madeleines

I’ll confess: I made these today. Like, this morning.

This is not something I normally do for the Tuesday and Friday cooking assignments, but this past week – these past two weeks, really – have been a struggle as far as focus is concerned. Check out yesterday’s post, and you might understand why.

But I made them, I got them done. I still need something to occupy my time and my mind, and baking and cooking still seems like a pretty good way to do that. When I can, anyway – who knows what kind of food aversions may pop up in the next few weeks, but so far so good. There’s nothing in madeleines that seems likely to offend.

Okay, and now I’ll be honest: my madeleines were just okay.

I’m not sure how many madeleines I’ve actually eaten. Not many. I don’t remember anything about them, whether I liked them or not.

Really, the only thing I’ve ever known about madeleines is that they’re soft, kinda cake-y cookies that have their own little pan. Oh, and they’re French. Obviously.

That’s about it, really. Not only do I not know much about madeleines, I don’t have much to say about them. I know how to make them now, and I know that I don’t think they’re terrific. I liked the financiers I made last week better. Those had a more nuanced flavor, a hint of nuttiness that accompanied the egginess. They were way more interesting to eat.

Also, I think the baking time was off. My first batch burnt at seven minutes. I kept an eye on my second batch (pictured above) but they still got a little on the brown side. I realize they’re supposed to get a little browned, but probably not that browned. And I don’t think I was under-filling the cups, because the batter was almost overflowing when I spooned it into the molds. So, once again, this book and my oven don’t get along. This time around, however, it’s too much time; usually, it’s not enough.

I don’t know. It’s not that I dislike the madeleines – I did like them. But I didn’t love them. And I probably wouldn’t go to the trouble of making this recipe again. I’m wondering if I just need a different recipe. A lot of the recent recipes from Baking with Julia have been rather underwhelming for me lately. These didn’t do it for me. Maybe a different recipe would. Or maybe a variation on the recipe. I’ve seen flavored madeleines out there, and maybe that’s something I need to try. Because, by themselves?

Meh.

Maybe with coffee. I realize tea is more traditional, but I don’t drink tea, so it will have to be coffee. Maybe that’s what it’s missing.

Again, this might just be me. To see how the other Dorista bakers feel about these madeleines, check out the Tuesday with Dorie links, especially our hosts at Counter Dog, who made very lovely madeleines indeed. Don’t give up on madeleines on my account! I’ll give them another try in the future. Happy baking!

Wait. Those aren't chocolate chips!

Wait. Those aren’t chocolate chips!

I wish I’d made these last weekend and given them to Geordie to take to work on April 1st, because these would have made the perfect April Fool’s Day treat.

Except, I’m glad I didn’t, because I don’t want to share these. I want to keep them all to myself. They are delicious, in a weird salty-sweet kind of way.

Sablès are a French shortbread biscuit; the French word sablè means “sandy,” a reference perhaps to the delicate and crumbly texture of the cookie. They are usually round, and they are usually sweet and served as dessert or with dessert.

These sablès, developed by the great Pierre Hermè (whom you may remember as the inspiration for last month’s Ispahan Loaf Cake) are a bit of a play on the traditional recipe. Instead of a straight-up buttery cookie, we’re given a salty, olive-infused appetizer, perfect with a little white wine. I’d be willing to bet that these would also go well on a cheese plate, but I enjoyed them on their own, with and without extra olives on the side.

I love sablès, but these are the first I have ever made. They are such a sophisticated little cookie, I was a little worried about how complicated or finicky they might be. They weren’t. Not at all. As with so many impressive and dignified foods, they are much simpler and easier to make than one would first imagine. They do have a bit of an oddity to them, though, in the form of a secret ingredient.

Butter (lots of it), olives, powdered sugar, the yolk of a hard-boiled egg, olive oil, and a combination of flour and potato starch.

Butter (lots of it), olives, powdered sugar, the yolk of a hard-boiled egg, olive oil, and a combination of flour and potato starch.

That’s right: the yolk of a hard-boiled egg. According to Dorie, it’s quite typical in Austrian baking, and it – in combination with the potato starch and the powdered sugar – give the sablè it’s tender, crumbly texture.

Don’t ask me how it works. I just know that it works.

All of this gets carefully and dutifully mixed together, which takes very little time at all, even if you’re not using a machine to do it. Once everything’s combined, the dough is divided into three parts, and each part is rolled into a log shape. I have a hard time rolling circular logs. Mine always come out rectangular. Ah, well. It gives them a little more character.

The logs then go into the fridge to rest and firm and develop lovely olive flavors. At least one hour is necessary, but overnight is better. Two of my logs rested overnight; the other went into the freezer, where it will keep nicely for a while (but not for too long, because I won’t be able to resist devouring it for any extended amount of time). The yield on this recipe is pretty high – 60 by Dorie’s standard, but I estimate I’ll be getting 75-80 out of mine. I’m not sure I rolled them as thick as I should have, or that I’m cutting them as thick as Dorie suggests but that’s okay. They’re still delicious, so I’m not bothered at all.

Usually, I’m not keen on slice-and-bake cookies, but these worked like a charm. They baked up beautifully, even though they’re rectangles and not circles. Truly, appearances don’t count when you taste as good as these sablès. Besides, they’re still quite pretty, no matter what shape they are.

olivesables

I was surprised at how much I liked these. Until I started cooking with this group, I thought I didn’t like olives very much. It turns out that I like them just fine. Even Geordie seemed to enjoy these, though perhaps not as much as I did. He really liked the sablè part and wondered how it would be with other flavorings. Incredibly tasty, I’m sure. These were so easy to make, they might just become my go-to cookie/snack recipe. And they’ve certainly changed the way I feel about slice-and-bake treats.

It’s not easy to describe exactly what’s going on in this cookie. It’s sweet, but not too-sweet. It’s salty, but not too-salty. The olive flavor is there, but it’s not overpowering. Everything comes together so perfectly – nothing dominated, it all melds together in a delicious, delicate bite or two. It’s almost elusive. I keep finding myself going back for more, just to get one more bite to try to better understand what it is that’s going on in my mouth. I love these little appetizer-cookies. Just another surprise from a cookbook stuffed full of them.

Maybe these sablès aren’t for everyone, though. There seem to be mixed reactions among the Doristas. Be sure to check out their links and see what they thought! Happy cooking!

Sara

I am a daughter and a sister, a wife and a friend. I am a reader and a writer, a dreamer and a realist, a teacher and a learner. I am the mother of a baby born sleeping. I am on a journey of healing, walking a path paved with tears and grief and hope.

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