Valentine’s Day has always been a favorite holiday of mine, but the days of hand-crafted paper and glitter cards, and (thankfully) the painful awkward days of middle-school choir class and Mrs. Powers’ “Have a Heart” song/activity are long gone. This year I’ll be spending Valentine’s Day evening at the French Culinary Institute, doing production for the school’s restaurant, L’Ecole… and I will be on butchering duty. My bloody valentine will consist of a case of ducks that need to be broken down, and a case of lamb and pork racks that will need to be frenched before service. When that’s done and over with we’ll be moving on to Foie Gras Hotdogs, and Spiced Short-Rib Hot Dogs on freshly baked Brioche Buns, which certainly isn’t everyone’s idea of a traditional treat for the holiday.
I had plenty of frozen Pate Sablee in stock so I decided to make some really simple Shortbread Cookies dipped in Semi-Sweet Chocolate. I thought of many ways to make the cookie a little more special (crystalized ginger, pretzel pieces, almonds, dried cherries…) but although the cookies are not extremely sweet, they are very rich, and after sampling a few I decided the addition of chocolate was enough. This dough is easy to make, and freezes great, or stays in the fridge for over a week. If you don’t have time for arts and crafts, and want a quick homemade treat for friends, coworkers, classmates, (and certain chef instructors), this is a great cookie to try out.
Pate Sablee (Shortbread Dough)
150 g (5oz) Butter
90 g (3 oz) Confectioner’s Sugar
Pinch of Salt (Fleur de Sel)
1 t good vanilla
2 egg yolks
255 g (9 oz) cake flour
1-2 t water
Granulated sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Soften butter by placing between two layers of plastic wrap and flattening with rolling-pin
2. Combine butter and sugar with fork (or beat with mixer) until creamy
3. Add egg yolks one at a time, until mixed completely
4. Add vanilla and pinch of salt
5. Sift flour and add at once. Make sure mixture is well combined and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc and refrigerate at least 30mins.
6. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Roll out dough to be just under 1 cm thick. The dough will rise a bit in oven. Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter! Make sure to give enough space between cookies on pan. Sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar evenly over surface.
8. Bake about 15 mins, until the edges of the cookies are light brown.
9. Let cool.
10. In a double boiler, melt 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels. Once melted, add another 1/4 cup. Dip corners of cooled cookies into the chocolate, or drizzle a bit over the cookies with a spoon or plastic spatula.
This is the classic french recipe for Pate Sablee which can also be used as a great base for tarts. I listed this recipe as I had plenty left over from the Tarte Au Citron we’ve been making in class, but Ina Garten also has a delicious and easy shortbread recipe I have used which you can find here.