Orange & Chocolate French Butter Cookies (Sablés)

Orange & Chocolate French Butter Cookies (Sablés)

Rolled in sparkly sugar, with barely golden edges, orange chocolate French butter cookies (sables) are flecked with dark chocolate and orange zest.  French butter cookies are generally a perfect addition to a holiday baking line-up, as they’re sturdy and pack beautifully; these orange & chocolate sables are no exception.

My mom returned from a trip to Paris and gifted us a beautiful tin from a Parisian bakery filled with miniature French butter cookies (sables).  Each of the eight or so flavors in the tin were unique and absolutely delicious, but my favorite had a subtle orange essence.  I recreated these orange French butter cookies using Dorie Greenspan’s sable recipe as a guide, with the addition of dark chocolate. The results are worth sharing!

What is a Sable Cookie?

French butter cookies or biscuits, aka sablés, are akin to shortbread, sandy (the word ‘sablé’ means sandy in French) in texture, and not overly sweet.  Sables are not leavened with baking powder or soda, which gives them their characteristically dense yet delicate texture. They’re often formed into logs and sliced after a lengthy chill in the refrigerator. I shaped mine into cylinders for a round sable, but they can also be rolled out and shaped with cutters or pressed.  

Orange & Chocolate French Butter Cookie Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – Room temperature butter is very important for this recipe. Use salted if that’s what you have; just reduce the salt in the recipe.
  • Granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar – Run the powdered sugar through a sifter or mesh strainer. Texture is key here.
  • Salt – Salt gives these cookies flavor and balances the sweetness.
  • Room temperature egg yolks – The yolk is less “eggy” in flavor without the white and imparts great texture.  Save one white for the “glue” you’ll use when you coat them in sugar.  The other white can be saved for another use.
  • All-purpose flour 
  • Orange zest – You’ll need a teaspoon and a half. I used three small clementines.
  • Dark chocolate – I used bittersweet chocolate chips and chopped it finely with my largest knife.  Don’t use the food processor for this step as the chocolate will turn to powder.  

How to Make Orange & Chocolate Sables

Get ready:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Using your fingers, press the granulated sugar and the orange zest together into a bowl, until it’s fragrant and well mixed.

orange zested-sugar

Make sable dough:

With a beater, cream butter, both sugars and salt until smooth and velvety in a large bowl. On low speed, add egg yolks, one at a time and mix thoroughly, stopping to scrape the bowl with a sturdy rubber spatula a few times.  You don’t want to add too much air here, but you want the sugar/salt-butter-egg yolk mixture to be homogenous before adding the flour. Add flour and, with mixer on lowest setting, or turning on and off again, slowly work flour into the dough.  The texture of the dough should be crumbly and should not clean the sides of the bowl so don’t be tempted to overmix. Use a sturdy rubber spatula to gently stir in the chopped dark chocolate, and also work in any bit of flour hanging out at the bottom of the bowl.

butter, sugar, orange zest, salt & powdered sugar
completed orange and chocolate sable dough

Shape dough:

On a flat work surface, with your hands, press dough together until it’s in a rough ball and divide in half.  Use a kitchen scale if you have one to make your portioned dough nice and even in size. Place first dough half onto a parchment rectangle and work it into a rough “roll” by pulling up on ends of paper and compacting dough with hands to smooth the gaps and cracks. Roll dough further until it’s roughly 9-inches long and clylindrical.  Repeat with second half of cookie dough.  Place two logs into a resealable bag or a glass lock container and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 3 days), or freeze the cookie dough “logs” for future use.

rough "log" of orange chocolate French butter cookie dough (sable dough)

Slice and bake cookies:

Using one of the remaining egg whites, whisked well, paint the two cookie dough logs with egg white and press coarse/turbinado or decorating sugar onto the outside of the logs until fully coated. To guide even thickness, score logs of dough with a knife to mark off 1-inch increments. Slice the cookies by dividing each mark into three equal slices (I like to use my serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion), into 1/3-inch thick cookies.  You can vary this depending on how thick you like your sables, but keep them between ¼ and ½ inch. Place cookies on parchment-lined sheets, about an inch apart.  Bake, one sheet at a time, for 17-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until edges are slightly brown and the bottoms are beginning to brown as well.  Let the butter really develop that “French bake” flavor. 

Cool and enjoy:

Remove cookies from oven and use a small metal spatula to place cookies on cooling racks. Wait to serve cookies until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Make a cup of coffee or tea to enjoy while you wait!

Mixing Things Up

  • Try swapping lemon zest or even grapefruit zest for the orange.
  • Roll logs in red or green sugar for a festive Christmas feel.

How Long Do Orange & Chocolate French Butter Cookies (Sables) Keep? 

They’ll keep at room temperature for about a week.  The unbaked logs can stay in the refrigerator for up to three days, or frozen for up to two months.  Just make sure to leave them wrapped well in the parchment paper (wait to egg-wash and sugar) and place in a resealable bag.  As mentioned, they’re sturdy and pack well for gifts.

Looking for other slice-and-bake cookies?

Try one of my very favorites – Cappuccino Flats (Chocolate-Dipped Mocha Cookies)

Orange & Chocolate French Butter Cookies (Sables)
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Orange Chocolate French Butter Cookies (Sables)

Rolled in sparkly sugar, w/ barely golden edges, orange chocolate French butter cookies (sables) are flecked w/ dark chocolate & orange zest.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Chill time3 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: butter cookies, french cookies, sable cookies
Servings: 54 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar sifted
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks at room temperature – save at least 1 white for coating in decorative sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate
  • Coarse/turbinado sugar for decorating

Instructions

  • GET READY: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Using your fingers, press the granulated sugar and the orange zest together into a bowl, until it’s fragrant and well mixed.  Using a large knife, chop dark chocolate finely.  Your largest chocolate piece should be the size of a mini chocolate chip.  Don’t use a food processor for this or you’ll end up with chocolate powder.
  • MAKE SABLE DOUGH: With a beater, cream butter, both sugars and salt until smooth and velvety in a large bowl. On low speed, add egg yolks, one at a time and mix thoroughly, stopping to scrape the bowl with a sturdy rubber spatula a few times.  You don’t want to add too much air here, but you want the sugar/salt-butter-egg yolk mixture to be homogenous before adding the flour. Add flour and, with mixer on lowest setting, or turning on and off again, slowly work flour into the dough.  The texture of the dough should be crumbly and should not clean the sides of the bowl so don’t be tempted to overmix. Use a sturdy rubber spatula to gently stir in the chopped dark chocolate, and also work in any bit of flour hanging out at the bottom of the bowl.
  • SHAPE DOUGH: On a flat work surface, with your hands, press dough together until it’s in a rough ball and divide in half.  Use a kitchen scale if you have one to make your portioned dough nice and even in size. Place first dough half onto a parchment rectangle and work it into a rough “roll” by pulling up on ends of paper and compacting dough with hands to smooth the gaps and cracks. Roll dough further until it’s roughly 9-inches long and clylindrical.  Repeat with second half of cookie dough.  Place two logs into a resealable bag or a glass lock container and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours (and up to 3 days), or freeze the cookie dough “logs” for future use.
  • SLICE AND BAKE COOKIES: Using one of the remaining egg whites, whisked well, paint the two cookie dough logs with egg white and press coarse/turbinado or decorating sugar onto the outside of the logs until fully coated. To guide even thickness, score logs of dough with a knife to mark off 1-inch increments. Slice the cookies by dividing each mark into three equal slices (I like to use my serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion), into 1/3-inch thick cookies.  You can vary this depending on how thick you like your sables, but keep them between ¼ and ½ inch. Place cookies on parchment-lined sheets, about an inch apart.  Bake, one sheet at a time, for 17-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until edges are slightly brown and the bottoms are beginning to brown as well.  Let the butter really develop that “French bake” flavor. 
  • COOL AND ENJOY: Remove cookies from oven and use a small metal spatula to place cookies on cooling racks. Wait to serve cookies until they’ve cooled to room temperature. Make a cup of coffee or tea to enjoy while you wait!

Notes

*Recipe based on Dorie Greenspan’s “Sablés” from Baking From My Home to Yours


1 thought on “Orange & Chocolate French Butter Cookies (Sablés)”

  • 5 stars
    I’m so happy that those beautiful French cookies were an inspiration for this recipe. I know your new creation will be delicious and French!

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