Hi there, sorry for disappearing for 2 weeks. I was in a baking slump ever since my failed attempt at making kueh lapis (layer cake) 2 weeks ago. I felt really dejected and defeated, after losing 15 eggs in the inedible mess. Not a comfort word came from OCT, instead he told me that I probably should give up the hope on making this high cholesterol, time consuming and highly unhealthy cake. There should be better use of the eggs and my time elsewhere.
So I was sad, sad that I failed once again, and there's no more eggs in the fridge to avenge. So sad that I didn't make any effort in baking, or cooking any new recipes. I simply went with the flow, and cooked whatever I feel like and know how, to slowly let my vulnerable heart heals.
Had it wasn't for the post-easter shopping that I did last Monday, I would still be sitting here, sulking and sighing. Instead of hunting and buying the past Easter goodies, I found myself something much better that made me feel Christmas comes early!
It all started when I spotted some Valrhona Cocoa Powder at 50% off on the clearance rack in World Market! I took a deep breath and reached out to grab three glorious boxes of Valrhona that I have never imagined I could afford. Well, I guess I could, if I insisted to buy, but living on a graduate stipend, splurging $9 for 8oz of cocoa powder may not be a wise investment. Not with the rate I finishes my baking supplies.
Upon reaching home, I felt really empowered and took out Pierre Herme's Chocolate Desserts to look for ideas to test my newly acquired cocoa powder. A cup of coffee and some pages flipping later, I decided on Viennese Chocolate Sables. According to Monsieur Herme, he learned to make these delectable sables from the source, none other than the famous Wittamer pastry shop in Vienna. Because the recipe uses lots of butter and confectioners' sugar, the sables have a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Pairing with the intense flavour of Valrhona Cocoa Powder, they are perfect anytime of the day, with a cup of tea or coffee.
I let OCT bring most of the sables to lab the next day, wanting to hear what others think of the cookies. One of his colleagues commented that they weren't sweet enough. The rest didn't comment but the box came back empty. Well, I personally like the sables as they are, not overly sweet, which allows the chocolate flavour to shine through.
Pierre Herme piped the dough out in the characteristic W shape, but I have an unfortunately small tip that the thick dough couldn't pass through. Instead, I simply piped them out in coin size. Despite of their regrettable appearances, the sables are everything they promised-delicate, light and chocolatey.
The success of the sables had one side effect on me though. I was deeply regret for only buying 3 boxes of the cocoa powder! I couldn't sleep without worrying that there would be no more left on the shelve when we returned on Saturday. So, it was pure joy when we found some boxes of Valrhona Cocoa Powder sitting on the shelf. They were being moved to another shelf since I last spotted them and there was obviously fewer boxes remained. I happily grabbed another 3 boxes and can't help smiling for the whole day eventhough the weather was really crappy (with rain and snow) on a spring weekend.
Update: I went back to buy another 2 boxes the next week, making my Valrhona Cocoa Powder collection a total of 8 boxes!
Viennese Chocolate Sables
1 3/4 cups plus 1.5 tbsp (260g) all purpose flour
5 tbsp (30g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
2 sticks plus 1.5 tbsp (8 3/4 ounces, 250g)unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (100g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
3 tbsp lightly beaten egg whites (lightly beaten 2 large egg whites, then measure out 3 tbsp)
confectioners' sugar for dusting (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and line two baking sheets with parchment papers. Fit a pastry bag with a medium-sized open star tip and keep it close at hand.(The tip should be crenellated, but its piping hole should be open and somewhat straight, rather than curved and tightly rounded.)
Whisk together flour and cocoa. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a whisk until it is light and creamy- for the recipe to be successful, the butter must be very soft. Whisk in the sugar and salt, then stir in the egg whites. (Don't be concern if the mixture separates; it will come together when you add the dry ingredients.) Gradually add flour and cocoa until it is incorporated- don't overwork the dough once flour is added,a light touch is what gives these cookies their characteristic crumbliness.
Because the dough is thick and heavy, it's best to work wth it in batches. Spoon about a third of the dough into the pastry bag, Pipe the dough into W-shaped cookies, each about 2 inches (5 cm)long and 1 1/4 inches (3 cm) wide, 1 inch apart onto the baking sheets.
Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes- no more- or until they are set but neither brown nor hard. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to room temperature. Repeat with the remaining dough. Dust the cookies with confectioners' sugar before serving.
The cookies will keep in a tightly covered tin at room temperature for a week. They can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month.
Make about 65 cookies.