I know I’ve complained about work tons of times, but work is getting really hectic. The very nature of my work requires me to be charging clients every hour, which means that busy-ness is a good thing, but sigh. I sometimes wish I had more time to myself to bake during the weekdays because baking during the weekends is simply insufficient!
Despite my lack of sleep, I couldn’t not post today, because today’s a very special day for me. It doesn’t feel very special at the moment because well, the special person is not here with me and there’s no one to celebrate it with besides him since this special day concerns the both of us. And this is the second year running that both of us are in different countries, and is likely to be the case for the near future :/ But I always look forward to this day, because 2 years ago to this date, I was in Paris, waiting for my special someone to arrive, and he did :] My friends always tell me that they feel like I’ve been in the relationship for a really long time, mainly because we were ‘dating’ for an extended period before making it ‘official’, but I guess that’s the beauty of it all isn’t it? Getting to know each other properly before taking that step. I’m still learning new things everyday, and I hope you are too – here’s to many more years dear.

I had initially planned to post this for Valentine’s Day, because it’s heart shaped and all, but as usual, I didn’t manage to bake it before Valentine’s Day or even shortly after, but I eventually did make it, so what better day than today to post little heart-shaped cookies for my dearest? I know what he’s going to say too – why am I making ‘brown things’ again, but hey, this is almost black, not brown! (He likes to says that everything on my blog is brown, which is not true! =p)

This is by far the chocolate cookie recipe I love most, for the very fact that it is very simple to make with simple ingredients and the fact that it is very very very good! It’s a sable au chocolat, or very loosely translated to chocolate sand cookies – this recipe is very crisp, and not at all melty or sandy. In fact, EVERYONE I’ve baked this for says it’s very very good. And I think it’s very good too! Another thing in its favour is the very fact that it’s another recipe by Pierre Herme, and you know how biased I am towards anything of his.

And I was very trigger happy with the cookies because I had just bought the new cloth and the lighting that day was pretty good. Plus I found out that I had a milk bottle prop that could be used! PS: quite a few of you have asked where I got the bottle from – my brother saved it for me after buying this bottle of milk from a convenience store in Japan, so I’m afraid you can’t find anything similar here! Now, if only I can find a nice striped straw…

Pierre Herme’s Sable au Chocolat
Adapted and translated from Pierre Herme’s Le Larousse du Chocolat

55g butter
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
20g white sugar
40g brown sugar
65g all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
10g cocoa powder
50g bittersweet chocolate (70%)

Sea salt, to sprinkle

Method:

  1. Roughly chop a bar of bittersweet chocolate until you get 50g of shards and pieces. 
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter until light before adding in the brown and white sugars. Cream until fluffy, then add in the vanilla extract. 
  3. In another bowl, sift together the baking soda, all-purpose flour and cocoa powder. Gently the dry ingredients into the creamed butter, until all the dry ingredients are well incorporated and a cookie dough forms. Mix in the chopped chocolate until evenly distributed. 
  4. Roll the cookie dough into logs of your desired shape (circular or rectangular is good), making sure that the width/height of the log is no more than 2 inches to ensure even baking. Chill the logs for at least 30 minutes, preferably for a day for the flavors to meld. 
  5. 20 minutes before baking, remove the logs from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 160°C. Slice the logs to about 1cm or less in thickness and lay them out on a greased cookie tray. Leave at least 2 finger spaces between each cookie because the cookie does spread a little. Sprinkle some sea salt onto each cookie if you want an extra burst of saltiness. 
  6. Bake for about 12-15 minutes at 160°C, or until the entire cookie is firm – if the centre of the cookie yields slightly to touch, do give it another minute in the oven before removing the cookies. Allow the cookies to cool on the tray for at least 15 minutes before removing to cool on a cooling rack. The cookies taste best after a while (i.e., not a few minutes out of the oven), so try not to eat too many cookies before then!




PS: see the difference in the tone and light in the photographs above by merely changing ISO and shutter speed! 


Janine’s jots: 

  • Taste: Because chocolate is the star in this cookie, be sure to use good quality cocoa powder and chocolate. I usually use a Belgian cocoa powder (which is not available here) and a Nestle Premium 70% bittersweet chocolate (which is also not available here). Do use chopped bittersweet chocolate because it provides a perfect foil to the chocolate cookie. You can choose to use Valrhona if you have access to it. I have also taken the liberty of decreasing the amount of sugar to suit my tastes, feel free to use 10-20% more sugar if you like a sweeter cookie.
  • Texture: This chocolate cookie is crisp if sliced thinly enough and is simply the most awesome cookie ever. Enough said.
  • Serving size: This makes about 60 cookies, or about 2 trays worth depending on the size of your cookies.
  • Modifications: You will get a slightly different mouthfeel depending on how thick you slice the cookies, so slice them thinly if you want a crispier cookie and thickly if you want a cookie with more heft. Do be careful if the cookies are thick because the outsides of the cookie may burn (speaking from experience) before the insides are properly crisp – cover them with an aluminium foil if the cookie turns too dark. I have also tried using brown sugar instead of white, demerara instead of white, and a combination of white and brown, all works fine, with slight differences to taste.
  • Storage: If stored in an airtight container, the cookies remain crisp for up to a month, although it will lose a bit of the original crispiness after 2 weeks or so.
  • Would I make this again?: Definitely, I have made this recipe more than 10 times now, for Christmas, for Chinese New Year, etc. My only caveat is that you have to make sure that the cookies are properly packed because they are fragile.
  • Other comments: This recipe is easily doubled or tripled, but be sure to chill it for at least 30 minutes, preferably for a day or more for the chopped chocolate to properly ‘infuse’ the rest of the cookie dough. Remove the chilled logs (or discs) from the refrigerator before you intend to bake, and depending on the ambient temperature and the thickness of the log, it might take 10 – 20 minutes for the log to soften. My logs are usually thin, and I wait about 10 minutes before slicing the logs – the log should still be firm and yield only slightly to touch (not as soft as room temperature butter or like bread dough) – this will allow you to slice through the log cleanly. Also, try to chop the chocolate to pieces larger than your typical chocolate chip so that you will not have problems slicing the chocolate. For the heart shaped cookies, I shaped the cookies by hand after separating the dough into balls, which works fine as well, but as you can see, the texture of the cookies will not look as smooth as sliced ones.
A final punny line – love is bittersweet and surprising at the same time (thanks to the salt) :]

7 comments

  1. daphne says:

    awww. how sweet!!! I’m such a fan of choc chip cookies and always looking for good recipes. Given that u like it so much, I want to give it a go too!

  2. Hi Janine, I know what you mean..I do agree that to wait for the weekends to bake is really insufficient! Is it your anniversary? If it is, Happy Anniversary. Distance makes the heart grows fonder, don’t you think! lol..love the cookies!

  3. Happy Anniversary! It’s awesome that you guys are holding out so well, so far apart. Good on you!

    I love such cookies, unassuming, but great tasting packed with chocolate goodness. but I am a chocolate lover, so I am biased.

    I agree wholeheartedly with time being insufficient, there are many times in the day I find myself daydreaming of what I want to do in my kitchen only to find myself enough time for 1 dish a weekend.

  4. shaz says:

    thanks for sharing a bit of your life with us (and this very yummy looking choc cookie recipe!) :)

  5. HI Janine, thanks for visiting my blog again on the other day! I’m just curious, are you still having a long-distance relationship? It’s quite tough if you have been doing this for 2 years now! I don’t really like cookies but there is always exceptional case. I made some cookies recently using Jamie Oliver’s recipe which I haven’t posted thought we finished the cookies very quickly! And I like it very much! Heart-shape cookies are very romantic! Happy belated anniversary to you & your bf! Have a nice weekend!

  6. These are some great chocolate cookies! Lovely photos too.

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