Lemon Rosemary Sables

December 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

Well, here it is, only a week or so after Thanksgiving and I’ve been noticing that I’m in my full-on, Christmas-crazy mode. My symptoms include talking way too fast about everything, being even more late than I usually am, and snapping at my children for being children (talking loudly, playing raucously, singing…you know, really annoying stuff).  It’s a state of unrest, of fidgety discontent.

Honestly, I kind of dread Christmas every year.  It’s sad, I know.  It’s supposed to be a time of wonder and anticipation, but I usually end up feeling like a failure.  It may be that our traditions aren’t meaningful enough, or our decorations not pretty enough, or our presents not fancy enough. Food wise, I end up feeling crappy that our Christmas dinner isn’t made with 100% local, organic, sustainably farmed ingredients.  It seems like the opportunities to fall short are legion and I can’t stand up under all of that pressure, even if it’s self-induced.  I start to crack up a bit and it’s the people around me that feel it most.

Well, this year I’m setting some goals:  I’m going to try not to put “perfect” expectations on our Christmas. I’m going to take it as it comes. I’m going to try to be very selective about what we “have” to do b/c I want to enjoy my family and not take out my frustration, over feeling too busy, on them.  I’m going to try to love the people around me the best that I can, and to that end, I’m going to stay within our gift giving budget (buyer’s remorse makes me cranky).  I also have one other very important goal for the Christmas season: to make cookies, lots and lots of cookies.  Lots and lots of sables, if we want to get specific.

Sables, french shortbread cookies (sable means sand in French), are buttery, luxurious little dreams made from a few readily available, and inexpensive ingredients (butter being the most used).  Rosemary Lemon Sables are just sables with lemon in the batter with rosemary hanging out on the edge for fun.  These things are a breeze, too, and that’s important this time of year.  You can make several batches, roll them into logs (gently!), and pop them in the freezer where they can stay for up to a month before you bake them (you can also just keep them in the refrigerator for a couple of days if that’s all you need) When you are ready, you can roll them in herbs or whatever (see variations below), and just slice and bake as needed.  If you make a big batch now you’ll have little bits of stress-free Christmas joy ready to be given to hosts and hostesses, office mates, or your kid’s teachers at a moment’s notice (ok, more like 20 minutes notice, but still).

Lemon Rosemary Sables*

(Lemon Sable recipe by Dorie Greenspan)


***Plan ahead: This dough has to chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before baking

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter (high-fat, like Plugra is great, but regular butter works well, too), softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Zest of 1 1/2 lemons

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted before measuring

1/2 teaspoon sea salt *
2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour.

For the decoration (optional):
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons minced, fresh rosemary

*I used 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and was very pleased with the results.

1. With a mixer (standing or handheld), beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy (I actually did this by hand and they turned out fine).

2.  Mix the sugar and zest together in a bowl and rub them together with your fingers until you can smell the lemon and the sugar is moist.

3.  Add the sugars and salt and  beat until smooth and looking like velvet.  You’re not going for fluffy and airy, so keep it to about 1 minute (Dorie’s advice). Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, beating until well blended.

4. Turn your mixer off, pour in all the flour, and, at low speed, pulse the mixer about 5 times (a kitchen towel over the mixer will help keep flour from flying all over the kitchen). Mix at low speed for about 30 seconds more.  You only want to mix until the flour disappears into the dough. If, after 30 seconds, there is still flour on the bottom of the bowl, take a spatula and work it into the dough.  You don’t want the dough to come together into a ball. It should be clumpy and soft. (she likens the feel of it to Play-doh)

5. Pour the dough out on a work surface, bring it into a ball, and divide it in two. Shape each piece into a log about 9 inches long and 1 1/2″ wide.  (When forming your logs, lay the dough on a piece of plastic wrap and use it to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and put them in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  The dough can be refrigerated for 3 days or kept in the freezer for 1 month. (if frozen, let dough thaw a bit before slicing into cookies.  If they crumble when you slice them, you can gently pinch them back together)

6. When it’s time to bake, center one baking rack in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.

7. To apply the rosemary, whisk the egg yolk and brush it onto one log of chilled dough.  Sprinkle the rosemary on a work surface and roll the log in the rosemary until somewhat  covered. (you don’t want a thick crust, so go easy). Trim the ends of the log if they are uneven and slice it into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

8. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. Dorie says: “When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top”.  Let the cookies rest a couple of minutes before carefully moving them to a cooling rack (you can use the parchment as a “sling” from one surface to another).  Repeat the process with the other log, letting the cookie sheet cool before baking the next batch.


~you could roll this shortbread in other herbs, too. Thyme and basil would be nice.  Poppy-seeds or finely chopped walnuts would be good as well.

~Also, for a sugar-free option, you can take out both sugars and lemon and replace them with 3/4 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese.  Beat the cheese into the creamed butter before the flour goes in.  A roll in a savory herb is still excellent.

***Breaking news at Space & Thyme:  I’m now officially a “featured blogger” on The Huffington Post’s Miami Branch, Huff Post Miami!   Check out the post they ran here.

§ 3 Responses to Lemon Rosemary Sables

  • Elena says:

    Yum! I am going to try these for hosting my book club tomorrow night. I needed a good cookie. :)

    • Monica says:

      Everyone needs a good cookie, in my opinion.:) and I really like sables b/c you can do so many variations, but stay with the same basic ingredient list. Can wait to see you at Christmas.

  • […] I saw this recipe some time ago, and thinking of baking a batch and of course my baking list is so long that I totally forgot all about it until 2 weeks ago, I had to bake some cookies for Malaika’s school. I decided to try out new recipes. So I picked this lemon rosemary sable. […]

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