SHF/IMBB Cookie Swap: Two is better than one
Sablés Diamant Vanille with Yuzu Curd
The sablé part of the equation comes from the magnificent The Cook's Book, edited by Jill Norman (yes, that legendary Jill Norman, the editor of Elizabeth David's classic cookbooks and current literary trustee of the David Estate). This is no ordinary how-to book - each and every lavishly photographed chapter has been contributed by a top drawer chef. Ever fancied the likes of Ferran Adrià teaching you how to make foams, or David Thompson guiding you through the intricacies of cracking coconut cream, or Marcus Wareing unveiling the secrets of Pétrus' signature Tourte de viande? It's all here; the roll call of 18 chefs reads like a veritable pantheon of the culinary demi-gods.
But, I digress. For me, the two chapters contributed by Pierre Hermé (Pastry & Sweet Doughs; Desserts) alone were worth the price of the book. A few of the preparations are repeats from his previous English books - but with the added benefit of goofproof step-by-step illustrations in classic Dorling Kindersley style. The sablé recipe is new. And its exceedingly short texture, thanks to the lack of eggs and the extravagant quantity of butter, the very definition of "sablé" (sandy).
Having found my new inimitably crumbly sablé benchmark, I contrived to use it in a cookie sandwich. The filling in my mind's eye would need to enhance, and be enhanced by, the melting butteriness of the shortbread, not dominate or overwhelm. Yuzu, the delicate Japanese citrus fruit, is in season, and has made its fleeting appearance on the aisles of the local Japanese supermarket. The ethereal fragrance of its zest and juice, utterly unlike any other, makes for the most voluptuous citrus curd. So distinct yuzu is, in fact, the curd tastes best when tempered with a proportion of lemon juice for balance. Bottled yuzu juice, available year-round, makes a decent (if decidedly less perfumed) substitute. And of course, if all this sounds like a whole lot of bother for a mere cookie, there's always lemon (or lime, or tangerine, or grapefruit...) curd.
Sablés Diamant Vanille
Adapted from The Cook’s Book, edited by Jill Norman
Makes 50 (for 25 pairs)
*225gm unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature *100gm caster sugar *1 vanilla pod *Finely grated zest of a yuzu (substitute zest of a lemon if fresh yuzu is unavailable) *1/4 tsp fleur de sel or other sea salt, finely crushed *320gm plain all-purpose flour *Granulated sugar to finish
Make dough in a food processor, stand mixer, or by hand following the same procedure, taking care not to overwork the ingredients. Cream butter. Mix in the sugar, the seed scrapings from the vanilla pod (save the pod for another use), the yuzu zest, and the salt. Cream until well mixed. Sift in flour. Mix until just combined, no more. Chill dough well; an hour or so. Roll out to 1cm thickness. Stamp out rounds using a fluted or plain cutter about 5cm in diameter. If cut-out tops are desired, stamp out smaller inner circles from the centres of half of the rounds. Spread granulated sugar onto a sheet of baking parchment. Lightly press top of each cut-out cookie top into the sugar. Chill the cookies another hour or so, or even overnight; baking the cookies from a well-chilled state ensures good shape retention. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180°C. Place the cookies onto a baking parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until the edges are just starting to colour, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container until ready to assemble; unfilled, the cookies keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
Makes 1 cup
*75gm caster sugar *1Tbsp finely grated yuzu zest (substitute lemon zest if fresh yuzu is unavailable) *2 eggs *2 egg yolks *60ml yuzu juice, freshly squeezed (used bottled yuzu juice if fresh is unavailable) *30ml lemon juice, freshly squeezed *75gm unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
Blitz the sugar and zest together in a processor or blender until the sugar is pale yellow and fragrant. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar together in a medium heat-proof bowl until smooth. Add the yuzu and lemon juices and whisk again. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a spatula and being sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, until it thickens (the consistency should be like that of sour cream), but do not let the mixture come to the boil. Immediately take the bowl off the pan, and push the mixture through a chinois or other fine-meshed sieve into a mixing bowl. Now add the butter, which should be very malleable but still cool, a few cubes at a time, stirring each addition until completely incorporated before adding the next. Press clingwrap against surface of the curd (this prevents a skin from forming) and chill until of a pipeable consistency; about 4 hours. Stores in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Sandwich the cookies on the day you plan to eat them. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle with the yuzu curd. Flip the cookie tops over. Pipe a thin ring of curd around the circumference of the cut-out inner circle on the underside of each cookie top. Flip the cookie bottoms over. Pair off tops and bottoms, pressing them gently together, keeping edges aligned. Pipe a dollop of yuzu curd into each cut-out centre. Finish each cookie with a tiny piece of candied citrus peel, if you feel like. Store assembled cookie sandwiches in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 12 hours; any longer, and the sablés will soften too much. Bring to room temperature (about 30 minutes) before serving.
Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies
From Emily Luchetti's A Passion for Desserts, fat little discs of hazelnut shortbread are sandwiched with globs of Nutella - enough said, as far as the Nutella addict is concerned, no?
Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Truffle Cream Filling
The recipe for these decadent dainties is from Chocolate Obsession by Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage, a fairly new release that I've been eagerly anticipating, replete with achingly exquisite photographs by Maren Caruso.