Black & White Spiral Sablés

December 14, 2014 § 3 Comments


With the holiday season upon us, I’m loving the endless Christmas music and beautiful lights strung up all around me. But what I am really loving is this long vacation that I have because I can bake like crazy and more time is a rare luxury during this time of the year!

Sablé [SAH-blay] is a French butter cookie that literally means “sandy” because of its tender, crumbly texture. These buttery cookies simply melt in your mouth and their simple elegance adds a touch of sophistication to any holiday table! 



This cookie lives up to its name with its beautifully sandy texture. To achieve this, the dough contains a surprising ingredient – a hard-cooked egg yolk! As odd as this may sound, it really gives these delicate cookies their distinctive sandy, crystalline crumb by reducing the moisture in the dough.


These cookies are a bit time-intensive and require some patience but they are well worth it! They make great holiday gifts or you can hoard them all to yourself (no judgment; they’re perfect alongside a cup of coffee or tea). Unused dough can also be stored in the freezer and then sliced and baked to have delicious cookies whenever you fancy!



What is your favorite cookie to make during the holidays? Share in the comment section below!

Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!



Black & White Spiral Sablés

Yield: About 80 cookies (unused dough can be kept in the freezer)

Adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book


Vanilla Sablés

  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


Chocolate Sablés

  • 10 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*

*If cocoa powder is lumpy, sift before use


For Vanilla Sablés:

Place 2 eggs in a small saucepan and fill with water until it just barely covers the eggs. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and then remove from heat and cover the saucepan for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, put water and ice in a small bowl. Transfer the eggs to the ice water and let sit for five minutes. Crack and peel the eggs; separate the whites from the yolks. Discard or use the whites for another purpose. Using a fine-mesh sieve, press the yolks one at a time in a small bowl. Reserve one strained yolk for the chocolate sablés.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, salt, and one cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Reduce speed to low, add vanilla and mix until combined. Stop the mixer, add flour and mix on low until just incorporated. It is normal for the dough to be crumbly so don’t be concerned when this occurs. Using hands, press the dough together until it is cohesive.

For Chocolate Sablés:

Follow the same steps for Vanilla Sablés, except add the cocoa powder with the flour.


To Form Spiral Cookies:

Halve each batch of dough. Roll out each half between parchment paper to an 8 by 6-inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. You should have two vanilla rectangles and two chocolate rectangles. Briefly chill the dough until firm enough to handle but still malleable.


Place one vanilla rectangle on top of one chocolate rectangle. Roll the dough between parchment paper to a 9 by 6-inch rectangle. If the dough is too firm, let it rest until malleable. Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a tight log. N.B. This step can be tricky so do it slowly; using parchment paper to roll the dough is very helpful. Repeat with the remaining vanilla and chocolate rectangles. Wrap the log in parchment paper and chill for one hour, or put log in a resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to one month.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a chef’s knife, slice the logs into 1/4-inch thick rounds, occasionally rotating the log to prevent it from flattening from the weight of the knife. Place the rounds 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.


§ 3 Responses to Black & White Spiral Sablés

  • Lilly Li says:

    Amazing pictures! Teach me more baking stuff yayyy


  • Sonya says:

    Yay for baking vacations! And I love Cook’s Illustrated!!! We loved these cookies too (the original ones, specifically). I’ve made them a few times and I’m always surprised at how easy they are to make, and how good they are for such basic ingredients. My husband likes them best plain. I like the variation recipe for Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, but with a little bit of peppermint extract added to make them like a Mint Milano. The almond, chocolate, and spirals weren’t as popular in my house, and I still want to try the lemon/coconut/vanilla pretzel variations. Yum!


    • Celine says:

      Cook’s Illustrated is so great! I’ll have to try adding peppermint extract since I love the chocolate-mint combo, thanks for the suggestion 🙂 Let me know how the other variations are if you end up trying them!


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