Sables Bretons: French salted butter cookies

Crispy, buttery cookies that have the taste of France in each buttery flavored bite!

Sable Breton French butter cookies

Shortly after I had moved to France, I made dinner for friends in my apartment, which we finished up with a chocolate tart, which I flecked with a few grains of flaky sea salt. Everyone ate their desserts but one guest, politely, finally spoke up to let me know that somehow, I’d gotten some salt on the dessert. Since then, salt has become a popular ingredient in pastries. It adds a bit of contrast to any sweetness, and helps to enhances other flavors, too.

Salted butter for Sable Breton cookies

In Brittany, butter is celebrated in a variety of desserts, like kouign amann, that have become globally popular over the last few years, salted butter is used to make them. Unsalted butter used to be the butter of choice for making pastries and desserts. Some said (including myself) that salt is added as a preservative, so unsalted butter is usually fresher. And the other reason was that using unsalted butter allowed you to control the salt in a recipe.

Fleur de sel

With refrigeration, the freshness of salted and unsalted butter isn’t really a question anymore. And regarding the second point, the amount of salt in a stick (4 ounces, 115g) of butter is about 1/4 teaspoon, which isn’t an enormous amount for an entire recipe and if you use salted butter, you can dial down the salt in a recipe proportionally.

Sable Breton French butter cookies

These classic Breton cookies are called sablés, which refers to their sandy (sablé) texture, due to a high proportion of butter (and egg yolks) in them. Because the Bretons use so much butter, it’s traditionally salted to help preserve it. These cookies get their special flavor from using salted butter.

There’s often a discussion amongst people who write recipes whether or not to call for specialty ingredients, or specific brands. My take it to only call for them when they’re either absolutely necessary, or will make a big difference. Sending people on a wild goose chase for an ingredient to make a recipe isn’t usually appreciated, but in this case, with butter-rich cookies like these, using a top-quality salted butter is the key to their crisp, crumbly texture and salty-sweet flavor. And it’s worth seeking out.

Sable Breton French butter cookies

Sable Breton French butter cookies

I was excited to see the Little Flower Baking book. If I could only go everywhere, I would. And one of those places is Christine Moore’s Little Flower Cafe and Bakery in southern California, but I’ve had her amazing sea salt caramels, some of the best I’ve had anywhere, and knew from the first bite of those glossy, gooey beauties, that this woman knew her way around butter and salt. Having this book, filled with recipes from the bakery, is the next best thing to being there. (Well, I think. Since I haven’t been, I’m going to have to assume it is.)

Sable Breton French butter cookies

For these sablés bretons, for best results use very good butter. In the U.S., some butter is labeled “European-style” which means it has a little less water and a higher fat content. Those are good choices, but even better are cultured butters, which have a live bacteria added to the cream before it’s churned and is the secret to the great-tasting pastries in France. Cultured butter takes longer to make and the culture not only gives the butter a richer flavor, but you can taste it in the finished pastry as well. At least I can.

You can get French brands of butter in the United States (Christine calls for Échere), although Kerrygold, Vermont Creamery, Straus, and other good-quality brands (some cultured, others not) of butter, are available stateside. I can’t go shopping with you (it’s that “I can’t go everywhere” thing…) but if you visit a well-stocked supermarket or food store, you should be able to find a good salted butter for these cookies. Even major brands like Land O Lakes and Challenge now make European-style butter.

Sable Breton French butter cookies

The dough is quite sticky and I like to roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper. You’ll need a pastry scraper or metal spatula to help coax the cookies from the parchment after rolling. If the dough gets too warm and soft, you can place the rolled dough in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes until it firms up enough to cut.

Espresso

The reward for seeking out good butter are rich little disks of buttery goodness, and as soon as mine were cool enough to eat, we dove in, accompanied by dark coffee. However I found the leftovers were great to snack on during the rest of the day. And I even found myself raiding the cookie jar (although I use a coffee can) first thing the next morning.

Sable Breton French butter cookies

Sables Breton
Print Recipe
About 30 cookies
Adapted from Little Flower Baking by Christine Moore More than other types of cookie, these are quite sensitive to being overbaked. Some might like them darker, but I prefer mine a little less, which allows for the flavor of the salt and butter to come through. I recommend baking them one sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven. Even in a convection oven, I find if you bake these on the lower rack, they’ll cook too quickly on the bottom. It helps if you can make room in the refrigerator or freezer before you start rolling the cookies so you chill the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies on them. Chilling them makes it easier to score them with a fork, but if you work fast – like I did – you can probably get away with not chilling them. I reduced the baking powder in the original recipe, but it’s still imperative that you use aluminum-free baking powder because these have a bit more leavening than other cookie recipes. Regular baking powder has a tinny taste, and you want to avoid that in these buttery treats.
2/3 cup (5.2 ounces, 150g) best-quality salted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 3/4 cups (210g) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 egg
1 teaspoon of water
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand in a bowl with a sturdy silicone spatula, cream the butter and salt together on low speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, gradually adding the sugar while whisking, until the yolks are light and fluffy – about a minute. With the mixer on low, add the egg yolks to the butter, stopping the mixer to scrape down any butter clinging to the sides so it all gets incorporated.
3. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl, then stir that into the creamed butter mixture until it’s completely incorporated. (Don’t overmix it.)
4. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inch (3cm) thick, wrap in plastic, and chill for an hour. (The dough can be made up to five days in advance, and stored in the refrigerator.)
5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Have a pastry scrape or thin metal spatula handy.
6. Cut the rectangle of dough in half and place one piece between two large sheets of parchment paper. Roll the dough until it is between 1/3- to 1/2-inch (1,25cm) thick. Peel off the top piece of parchment paper and, using a 2-inch (5cm) round cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough, place them on the prepared baking sheet at least 1/2-inch (2cm) apart. You may need to coax them off the parchment with the pastry scraper or spatula.
7. Roll the second piece of dough, cut out circles, and put them on the other baking sheet. (Scraps can be gathered up and rerolled to make additional cookies.) Chill the baking sheets of cookies in the refrigerator or freezer until firm.
8. To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven.
9. Beat the egg in a small bowl with the teaspoon of water. Remove one sheet of cookies from the refrigerator or freezer. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash then use a fork to cross hatch a pattern on the tops of the cookies. Bake the cookies until the tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet in the oven midway during baking.
10. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Brush the second baking sheet of cookies with the egg wash, rake a pattern across the tops with a fork, and bake them.

Storage: The unrolled dough can be chilled for up to 5 days or frozen for up to two months. Once baked, the cookies will keep for up to four days in an airtight container.

Related Posts

Ingredients for American Baking in Paris

Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions

French Butter

Homemade Cultured Butter

Gluten-Free Baking and Substitutions

Sable Breton French butter cookies

 


Never miss a post!

73 comments

  • Taste of France
    May 13, 2016 2:07pm

    These are like Longfellow’s girl with a curl: when they are homemade they are very, very good and when they’re industrial they are horrid. Maybe not horrid, but a lousy calorie/taste ratio.
    What kind of aluminum-free levure chimique do you use? Since I’m in France, feel free to drop names.
    And I love your cookie jar.

    • May 13, 2016 2:47pm
      David Lebovitz

      I use Rumford or another brand (sometimes the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s brands), that I get from the U.S. They sell it at the Grand Épicerie in Paris, and I you can also buy aluminum-free baking powder from the UK on Amazon (UK).

      • Taste of France
        May 13, 2016 3:09pm

        Argh. I’m in Carcassonne. Paris is far away. I’ll try Amazon. Thanks!

        • Maria
          May 13, 2016 5:12pm

          Naturalia or Biocoop also sell aluminum-free baking powder in little packets.

        • Christina
          May 23, 2016 10:52pm

          I just made this recipe and it is superb! I used the “icebox” method making a neat cylinder and refrigerating for a few hours. It is easy to cut and get directly into the over. I used a slightly higher heat.

  • May 13, 2016 5:04pm

    I also make the gateau.

  • L Sinclair
    May 13, 2016 5:04pm

    Is there any reason these could not be made like other sables, by rolling into a log, chilling and then slicing?

    • May 13, 2016 7:39pm
      David Lebovitz

      Nope, I think that would work as well.

      • Pam
        May 13, 2016 9:04pm

        oh boy thank you!
        Chill and slice so much faster!

  • Maraya
    May 13, 2016 5:19pm

    Is it possible to use kosher salt or table salt? If so, how much?

    • May 13, 2016 5:22pm
      David Lebovitz

      I would not use table salt for these cookies. It’s too harsh-tasting. Kosher salt can vary but Diamond Crystal is similar to sea salt, although I’d use about 25% less if I had to guess – but without testing it, can’t provide an exact quantity. If you do try it, let us know how they turn out with how much you end up using.

  • Cathy
    May 13, 2016 5:20pm

    Also in France, what brand of butter would you recommend?

    • May 13, 2016 5:23pm
      David Lebovitz

      I used the one shown in the second photo, at the bottom. Although there are similar brands with crystals of salt in them that work fine, so you could use a regular salted butter in France, or use one – like I did – with the crystals in it.

      • May 18, 2016 10:03pm

        Just to let British readers know that the butter with salt crystals in it – quite my favourite – is now widely available in the UK, even in Lidl!

  • May 13, 2016 5:22pm

    Lovely little sables. I can see rolling them out and not over baking is the key…not to mention quality butter/salt. Nothing like a really good cookie recipe.

  • Catherine
    May 13, 2016 5:27pm

    Guess I know what I will be making when I get home from work.
    And many thanks for the Little Flower Cafe and Bakery tip. I am going to be in Pasadena the end of the month and wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. A destination!

  • Jennifer
    May 13, 2016 5:45pm

    Although it would certainly mean a change in texture for these treats, could one use whole wheat flour to make them? If so, would you recommend adjusting the ratios of ingredients at all?

    • May 13, 2016 7:38pm
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, but I would just swap out a portion of the flour with whole wheat, like maybe 25%. Whole wheat flour-based cookies don’t crisp up as well. There’s something called “white” whole-wheat flour form King Arthur, but I haven’t used it.

      • Jess
        May 16, 2016 1:21am

        White whole wheat flour is da bomb. It’s not bleached or sifted, it’s whole wheat without the bran shards, it’s made from soft white wheat, and it’s awesome in most things. If you go partial whole wheat in this cookie, white whole wheat is probably your best bet. Can you tell I love the stuff? ;) It’s earned a flour jar on my counter next to the AP flour.

  • Rayma Halloran
    May 13, 2016 5:45pm

    I’m so happy and surprised that you know about Little Flower! I live 3 miles away and have been going there for years! I especially love the scones, but everything is so good! She now has a restaurant nearby called Lincoln, a big hit in the neighborhood! Always packed! Can’t wait to try your recipe, will use Straus butter.

  • May 13, 2016 5:48pm

    These look so simple and yet so delicious. I definitely appreciate your specification guidelines. The only thing more annoying than a recipe calling for specific brands for everything is when a recipe is dependent upon a specific item and doesn’t specify. I’m off to search for cultured butter.

  • Kathy
    May 13, 2016 6:04pm

    Thank you, thank you for posting! I have made the kouign amman recipe that you posted and now will try these gems from Brittany. Did you know that Trader Joe’s sells frozen kouign amman if you are in a pinch and can’t make it yourself?

  • Tommy
    May 13, 2016 7:13pm

    These remind me a Mere Pollard cookies that I love from the supermarket…..I know, not home made, not from a bakery, but she is credited with a miracle! lol

    Do you have a recipe for Mere Pollard like cookies?

  • christine moore
    May 13, 2016 7:27pm

    Thank you dear David!

  • Pamela hayward
    May 13, 2016 8:50pm

    This seems like an awful of baking powder considering the amount flour and the fact they are a biscuit. Is there a reason for this?

  • May 13, 2016 9:02pm
    David Lebovitz

    Tommy: They make several kinds of cookies and galettes. There are like one of them, although not sure of the others.

    Pamela: Most recipes for these cookies have a lot of baking powder. I did confirm the original amount from the author/baker, which was 2 tablespoons, but cut the baking powder down by about 1/3 from the original recipe for here, which worked fine.

  • Roger Blaugh
    May 13, 2016 9:11pm

    I wish I could find the Grand Fermage Sel du Mer in the US. I cannot find a source.

  • Nadia
    May 13, 2016 9:38pm

    Home made sablés, yum. I can imagine these would not last long as they would be eaten up very quickly!

  • CatF
    May 13, 2016 9:51pm

    For those who don’t have access to cultured butter, there’s a short cut to make it out of regular butter. I take a stick of regular butter and leave it out on the counter for 1-3 days. Once it starts to smell like cultured butter, I stick it back in the fridge then use it for recipes where butter needs to be flavorful.

  • Shana
    May 14, 2016 2:19am

    Thanks for the post David! Trader Joe’s here in the States recently started to carry “Cultured Salted Butter” produced in Brittany, France under their own private label. I have to say, it is fantastic! And it has become my preferred butter. However, I have a preference for purchasing organic foods, and have always in the past bought organic butter. In the back of my mind, I think that France must have higher standards when it comes to their animal products and that the milk from a French cow is somehow more pure than an American cow subjected to our conventional factory farming methods. Would you agree that French dairy foods are produced with more integrity? Thus one can be less concerned about non-organic French dairy foods? I love French cheese too! Thanks!

    • May 14, 2016 2:02pm
      David Lebovitz

      I think it’s hard to generalize/compare because in the United States, I see locally made milk, like Strauss in San Francisco and Ronnybrook in New York, in supermarkets, yet I don’t see locally produced milk in supermarkets in Paris. (In regards to pesticide use, according to this article about natural wines and pesticides in France in the New York Times, France is the third largest consumers of pesticides in the world, after Japan and the United States.) The major French milk producers do offer organic milk (like Horizon and others do in the States) but if you go to natural food stores in Paris, and the new crop of stores that have opened that focus on locally produced foodstuffs, have excellent milk produced closer to home. And if you are out in the French countryside, you can find lovely local dairy products, including raw milk.

  • Sheila
    May 14, 2016 2:27am

    Nice to see you’re a fan of the Breville espresso maker as well ;) Love your blog and recipes and will surely try this one!

  • Kristine Angelo
    May 14, 2016 2:34am

    Hi David, do you think this recipe would work with a high quality gluten free all purpose flour?

    PS…I am enjoying your videos on SnapChat!

  • May 14, 2016 4:33am

    The next time I’m in Pasadena I’m going to check out the Little Flower Cafe, it sounds divine and so do these sables.

  • Lorraine
    May 14, 2016 3:55pm

    Hi David (and all)
    Trader Joe’s stocks cultured, salted butter from Brittany. I was super excited when I saw it in the refrigerated case. Haven’t baked with it yet but it’s great on toast!

    • May 14, 2016 4:09pm
      David Lebovitz

      That’s interesting and I did see it there last time I was at a Trader Joe’s. I don’t know if they’ll continue it but hope it’s as good as the stuff in France : )

  • May 14, 2016 4:15pm

    As a professional pastry chef I am wondering why so much baking powder? The normal amount is 1 teaspoon per cup. There is more than twice that amount here. I can’t imagine there isn’t an after taste with all that baking soda in the baking powder. Or maybe all the salt hides it. Just curious.

    I wondered about that too and answered it, above ^^ – dl

  • Lea
    May 14, 2016 4:25pm

    Hi David, thanks for the recipes.
    You are the best… I have your books and I have been making your recipes for years.
    These cookies are amazing!!!
    Just made them this morning.
    Thanks again

  • Richard Allan
    May 14, 2016 4:46pm

    David–We met at your sur la table demonstration in NYC right before we took off for Paris.
    First, the cooking class at la Cuisine Paris (class: sauces) was wonderful, intense, learned the basics and productive. Thanks for the recommendation. Upon leaving ( going up those steep steps and the very high last step, my wife fell , split open her hand and decided to bleed all over the floor! Not pretty. Our instructor rushed to her as did the owner of the school (unfortunately, I don’t remember his name…a man who said he was around 40 years old) took charge. I was totally ignored. He walked us in the rain to the local pharmacy, stayed with us to get her attended too (bought band aids that said: “stops bleeding” —we don’t have that in NYC)…and then got us into a Uber and back to our hotel. Nice, nice people! Could not find biogauze anywhere—people just stared at me when I would ask.
    Sorry for the negative reports as follows: went for the coq au vin at: La Biche au Bois . Nothing as you described: sauces- thin and tasteless. The chicken pieces were not morsels, but chunk the size of a small ham, it was dry and tasteless and unappetizing. Very disappointing. This partially my fault: your review is old, and I should have done “something” to try to update it.
    Yes, they are not cooking coq au vin anywhere, any more — as the two French dinners at the next table told us during our very animated conversation.. But? Still? I think from time to time you should have a warning label attached to your posts to remind us: hey this many not be true anymore—And– You are on your own. Out of six dinners: three were more than fantastic, one—ok and one let’s forget about.
    At the Marche Mouffetard I had a small slice of pate –the likes of which I had never seen before and after one taste I died and went to heaven!!! Also, why can’t we have bread in NYC that taste like bread should?
    A recommendation: A hotel I have known for years and have stayed in on and off is the Hotel Madison in the 7th –was great, reasonable, great morning fare, room pleasantly decorated, and perfectly located. Very nice people and very helpful.

    • May 14, 2016 8:19pm
      David Lebovitz

      Glad you enjoyed your trip but sorry about your wife’s tumble. I’m happy to hear they were helpful to her and thankfully, they have great health care in France : ) Biogauze is, for some reason, no longer manufactured in France. Too bad, because it worked great. There’s a trend to remove dates from blog post but I leave them up so that people can see when write-ups are written as with over 1k blog posts, it’s hard to go back and update them as much as I’d like to. I haven’t been back to A la Biche au Bois in a while, but recent online reviews that I checked seem to be uniformly very positive so perhaps you had a one-off experience. But I appreciate your feedback as I do take that into account when revisiting a place and updating a post.

      (In New York I’ve found some great bread at Bien Cuit; their miche is really good. I also like Runner & Stone and She Wolf bread is terrific.)

  • May 14, 2016 8:20pm

    These almost look too pretty to eat! I love the contrast of sweet and savoury…and I have a slight addiction to salt so these are perfect for me ;-)

  • May 15, 2016 3:18am

    Hi David, thanks for the ravishing recipé for these sables bretons. Personally I’m partial to the unsalted Kate’s Butter from Maine (available at my local WFM) but I may try the salted version yet. The combo of sweet and salty totally rocks.

  • May 15, 2016 10:47am

    I find butter so interesting and I’m always seeking out butter with a higher fat content for making pastries. I was planning to make some kouign Amman this week, the recipe calls for unsalted butter, do you think I should change that?

    Also I saw a reference the other day to pastry butter, specifically for viennoiserie. Would this be the same as the cultured butter you mention?

    The markings on your biscuits are very much like a gateau basque, is the taste similar to the pastry?

  • Christine Quigley
    May 16, 2016 1:04am

    Hi David- Love your recipes, started making these sables and the dough is extremely dry, sandy in texture. I live at altitude in CO- could it be the flour is too dry? OK if I add a little melted butter? It’s chilling right now. Almost felt like I was putting a pasta doing together. I have had problems in the past with flour drying out too much and having to add extra fat/liquid.

    I don’t know anything about high altitude baking – apologies – but my guess would be to add another egg yolk and perhaps a touch of water – dl

    • Christine Quigley
      May 16, 2016 1:26am

      OK, I will try that- will let you know how it works! BTW- I’ve lived here for 37 years and did adjust my baking recipes when I first moved here, only to deal with disaster. Since then, I don’t adjust any of my recipes and it’s been fine. Now, if I lived @ 11,000 ft. elevation like my stepdaughter, I would probably break down and adjust.

  • JS
    May 16, 2016 2:41am

    Wow, these look great. Salty pastry gets me every time.

    David, unrelated question: can you tell me the source of those neat espresso cups in the picture? I’ve been looking all over for something like them to no avail. Everything I’ve found seems to be double-walled and bulbous. Thank you!

  • Christine Quigley
    May 16, 2016 4:42am

    Update: A little water and extra melted butter worked wonders! They are absolutely divine! And dangerous- hard to eat just one! Love the crunch of the salt.

  • Fred
    May 16, 2016 2:48pm

    David, next time you’re in SF, try Vella butter sold only at BiRite Market. It’s made by same folks that make Vella cheese (Sonoma dairy) and sold commercially only @ BiRite. It rivals any French butter & will blow you away. Plus it’s local and cheaper than the imported stuff.I’ve been using it exclusively for 5 years now.

  • Chris
    May 17, 2016 1:19am

    OK, these I will be making. I am intrigued that a recipe with so much leavening agent can produce a flat biscuit and I have 250g of lovely French salted butter in the fridge waiting for a home so what better reason? I have no idea if my brand of baking powder contains aluminium though…I just Googled it and aluminium sulphate isn’t listed as an ingredient; just Rice Flour, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate and Sodium Bicarbonate. Does that sound OK?

  • May 17, 2016 1:36am

    I just made these and while they taste amazing they spread a lot, right into each other and made a lovely honeycomb pattern. When I pulled them out of the oven I exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! Look at my cookies!” in shock and surprise. My husband peeked into the pan and said, “You mean your cookie?”

    Any thoughts, baking detectives, on what I might have done incorrectly to cause the cookies to spread so much?

    • Chris
      May 17, 2016 1:46am

      Hi Elizabeth. I wondered about this myself because of the huge quantity of baking powder in the recipe but I was worried about them distorting more than puddling. Were your cut-out circles of dough well chilled? if not, you might achieve a better result if you pop every prepared tray into the fridge for 15 mins or so before baking. That firms up the butter in the dough and helps to stop the biscuit (sorry, I’m from NZ and I just can’t bring myself to say ‘cookie’ unless the recipe was born in the USA) from spreading too much in the oven. No guarantees but worth a try?

    • May 17, 2016 3:18am
      David Lebovitz

      Cookies spreading is often caused by overbeating – too much air whipped in can do that. If that’s not the case, then you may have mismeasured. I didn’t chill my cookies after rolling, but indicated that people should as it’ll make it easier to score them. So that likely wasn’t the cause.

      • May 25, 2016 9:29am

        My cookies spread a lot as well, even though I refrigerated the second batch overnight to test if that would help. I do not think the batter was overmixed but it might be an issue. I used Dutch salted butter (80%) and I wondered if that might make a difference? I also wondered about the thickness – 1,25cm seems like a lot and they did not seem quite so thick in the photos?

  • May 17, 2016 3:29pm

    I dislike the industrial flavor of these cookies when I buy them at the store. My Pattisier here in Courbevoie makes them and that’s when I finally knew how these were supposed to taste like. I bet your recipe is just as awesome.

  • Karen Brown
    May 18, 2016 1:49pm

    A nifty trick to making neat scores on biscuits is to use the grid of a cooling rack to imprint the criss-cross pattern(yes, I’m also a Kiwi, and say biscuit instead of cookie).
    I would be wary of CatF.s comment on making ‘cultured’ butter by leaving it on the bench, unrefrigerated for several days. Cultured butter is similar to yogurt, in that it starts with a lactobacillus culture in the cream before it’s churned to butter. The smell of butter that has been exposed to the air for a few days is not the butter becoming ‘cultured, but rather the odour of oxidisation, in plain English, rancid. Not what I would like in such a butter-rich biscuit!
    If any readers visit or live in New Zealand, be sure to seek the Lewis Road creamery cultured butter, it’s so delicious, and excellent for pastry.
    Cheers from the edge of the map, Karen

    • Chris
      May 23, 2016 1:12am

      Hi Karen,

      I made my first batch of these biscuits using French butter, and they were divine, but I’d already decided to try NZ butter in my next batch (I’m a Kiwi too, living in Brisbane) We’re visiting home in July so I’ll pick up some Lewis Road while I’m there. Where is it sold? Would I need to go to Farro or one of the better grocers in Auckland, or do they have it at Foodtown etc? I totally agree there is nothing remotely ‘cultured’ about rancid butter! No way would I use butter that had been left out for a few days here, but we do have a particularly horrible climate…

      • Karen Brown
        May 25, 2016 11:12am

        Chris, I’m in Wellington, and usually shop at Moore Wilson’s, but I’m pretty sure that New World supermarkets carry the Lewis Road range. The milk, especially the full cream with the plug of solid cream on top, is amazing. Comes from an Hawkes Bay. The butter is a higher butterfat content than Anchor, and is terrific for pastry.

        • Chris
          May 26, 2016 1:01am

          Thanks! We’re going to a supermarket as soon as we arrive to stock up on ‘essentials’ (the list is about a mile long) so I’ll make sure its a New World.

    • Chris
      May 23, 2016 1:24am

      Oh, I should have mentioned a good old-fashioned Kiwi potato masher does a great job of stamping a grid pattern onto the surface of biscuits!

  • Nathan M.
    May 22, 2016 5:20pm

    Any tips and tricks for turning these into chocolate sables, without making them too sweet? There’s a baker in Portland Oregon who’s managed to do this, and they are the greatest cookie I’ve ever had!

    • May 23, 2016 2:04am
      David Lebovitz

      I would say that using unsweetened cocoa powder for some of the flour would do the trick. I can’t say how much without testing it out but you could look at some chocolate shortbread recipes that use cocoa powder and see what the proportion is and try that out with these.

  • Chris
    May 23, 2016 12:58am

    These were absolutely lovely. Somewhat to my surprise (I have a shocking record when it comes to making anything that needs to be rolled out) I was very careful not to over-mix; the dough behaved perfectly and the finished product looked exactly like the picture. Score! They tasted best when they were very fresh so I’m going to make more, roll them out, cut them into rounds and then freeze them in a wide, shallow container between layers of baking paper. Hopefully that will work, then I can bake as many as I need whenever I need them. I used French butter because I had some on hand and Murray River pink salt. I think next time I’ll try NZ cultured butter and fleur de sel and see if there is any difference. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  • Nancy H.
    May 23, 2016 6:54pm

    How would these be with half the cookie dipped in tempered chocolate? Good? Or too rich? Also, how long (provided they are not gobbled up) will cookies stay fresh in a coffee can with no wrapping like that? Would like to try this method of keeping cookies. Thanks!

    • May 23, 2016 10:57pm
      David Lebovitz

      It’s very untraditional to dip them in chocolate, but you could, although to me, the star of the cookies is the flavors of the salted butter. You can use any sort of airtight container to store the cookies. Tips/times are at the end of the recipe.

  • Sandy T.
    May 24, 2016 11:08am

    Huh. Interesting. I have never NOT used anything but salted butter in all pastry and desserts, at home or in the professional kitchen. Unsalted butter is just too bland, and has an “off” taste I’ve always disliked.

    Will try these ASAP, because I have a package of Kerrygold in the freezer. And I second the rec on Little Flower – Moore’s caramels and marshmallows saved my bacon last Christmas, both as stocking stuffers and as little comfort packages to a couple of friends who were recently bereaved. And her Lincoln in Altadena is a lovely place, too.

  • Rayma
    May 24, 2016 3:46pm

    I made these using the Trader Joe’s cultured butter. Next time I will add in only one tsp salt as they were way too salty for my taste. I served them hot with vanilla ice cream and they were a big hit even as salty as they were! The contrast of salty and sweet made a big impact. Thanks David for the recipe and thank you to whomever recommended the TJ cultured butter!

  • Julia Johnson
    May 24, 2016 5:21pm

    I have read some recipes that use hard-boiled egg yolks in place of the raw yolks (don’t remember the proportion, if it was all hard-boiled or half/half) — have you ever tried this method?

  • Donna in CT
    May 25, 2016 1:18am

    I probably won’t get a reply to this but wanted to post anyway

    I made these the other day with cultured, pastured butter, 84% butterfat. The instructions were excellent and they came out crisp and attractive.

    However, as I thought when I was making them, they tasted more eggy than buttery, which was a bit of a disappointment given the price of the butter…. Did anyone else come to this conclusion?

    • Chris
      May 25, 2016 1:39am

      Hi Donna. I made these gorgeous biscuits to serve to some dinner guests with coffee. We all loved them (that texture!) but when my 17yo son took his first bite his immediate comment wasn’t ‘they’re salty’ but ‘they’re eggy’. None of the rest of us thought so, and I was so focused on the flavours of butter and salt that I replied ‘eggs? There are no eggs’ before remembering the 4 yolks! Having said that, he ate about 5 so he obviously didn’t mind the the alleged ‘egginess’ :)

      • Donna in CT
        May 26, 2016 1:25am

        Thanks, Chris. Glad to know I’m not the only “crazy” one.

        I make a gateau Breton that I love, that has a very similar recipe, but tastes very buttery even though it has 5 yolks, I think. Oh well, they’re still delicious.

    • Lynn Wainess
      May 28, 2016 12:57pm

      I thought they were rich but not eggy. Mostly buttery, crispy, salty goodness.

  • Lynn Wainess
    May 26, 2016 2:05am

    I just made these. A-mazing.
    BEST COOKIES EVER.

  • May 28, 2016 6:27am

    This is such an ode to butter…in its many forms…Julia Child would love it!