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Buckwheat Sablés

Double crunch: superfine sugar and fine black buckwheat hulls.
difficulty:
yield:

About 60 (2½-inch) cookies

time:

15 minutes to make, about 12 minutes to bake

A prebake spin in superfine sugar creates the final layer of crispness in this irresistibly fine cookie. The simple decoration is made with a small star pastry tip.

introduction

Like all dutiful sablés, or shortbread cookies, ours adhere to strict standards: flour, butter, sugar, salt. Milled buckwheat being what it is, however, which is to say almost tremulous in its delicacy, a few ounces of all-purpose flour comes in handy for providing structure and shape. And a trace of fine yellow cornmeal opens up the crumb to an imperceptibly granular filigree. Beyond its striking flavors of deep earth and toasted chestnuts—heightened here with a shimmer of orange-flower water—milled buckwheat is also stunningly beautiful, with dark bran flecks against a dusky mauve hue. The overall effect of these cookies is one of exceptionally light, buttery crispness and floral notes under a deep veil of earth.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need two baking sheets, parchment paper, a medium mixing bowl, a whisk, and a stand mixer with the flat-beater attachment or a food processor, a rubber spatula, a small bowl or shallow baking dish, a small drinking glass with a flat 2-inch-diameter base for pressing the cookie dough, a small star pastry tip for decoration, a wire cooling rack, and a metal spatula.

  1.  

    Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn both flours, the cornmeal, and salt into a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

  2.  

    If using a stand mixer: Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat-beater attachment until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. Scrape down the bowl. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and aerated, about 1 minute, pausing once to scrape down the bowl. Add the orange-flower water and beat until combined. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until a cohesive dough forms. Detach the bowl from the mixer and scrape it down. The dough will be soft and creamy.

    If using a food processor: Cut the butter into pieces. Turn the dry ingredients and the sugar into the workbowl and process briefly to combine. Add the butter pieces and pulse until the dough comes together, about ten 1-second pulses. Add the orange-flower water and pulse briefly to combine. Turn the dough into the mixing bowl that held the dry ingredients.

  3.  

    Measure about 1 cup of sugar into a small bowl or shallow baking dish. Roll bits of dough—about 2 teaspoons, or, if you own a digital kitchen scale, 0.3 ounces—lightly between your palms to form balls. Gently roll each ball in sugar and place on the prepared baking sheet, spacing the balls about 2 inches apart. When the baking sheets are filled, use the base of a small drinking glass to flatten the balls into 2-inch disks about ⅛ inch thick. Press a star pastry tip into the center of each cookie for decoration. Bake one baking sheet at a time until the cookies are golden brown around the edges and on the bottoms, about 12 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time. Slide the parchment sheet onto a wire cooling rack and let the cookies cool completely before removing them with a metal spatula.