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Pierre Hermé’s Olive Sablés

"You can look at this cocktail nibble as either a sweet cookie with a spot of savoriness or a savory cookie with a touch of sweetness,” writes Dorie Greenspan, “but either way you’ll have something beyond the borders of the expected and deep within the realm of the irresistible. The sablés (French shortbreads) are undeniably sweet—in fact, that’s the first taste you get—but then, just as you’re about to shake your head in wonder, up come the salty olives, followed by the base flavor of olive oil.”

Greenspan adds that the hard-boiled egg in the dough, combined with the potato starch and confectioners’ sugar, “creates a cookie of supernatural tenderness.” She advises using a meaty, chewy olive with a lot of flavor, not canned black olives or the kinds of olives that fall apart or turn mushy when chopped. She notes that the dough should chill for at least several hours, or preferably overnight. “This rest not only firms the logs enough so that you can work with them easily, but gives the olives time to fully flavor the dough.” From Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010).

This recipe originally appeared in the article Miracle Oil by Faye Levy.

Great with white wine and Champagne, these are also perfect with cocktails.

The logs of dough can be frozen for up to 2 months; there’s no need to defrost before slicing and baking.

1 large hard-boiled egg, white discarded or reserved for other uses
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons potato starch (available at health food stores and in the kosher section of supermarkets)
15 tablespoons (1 stick plus 7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup olive oil (a fruity oil is best)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2½ ounces (about 1/2 cup) pitted black olives, preferably oil-cured, chopped

Grate the hard-boiled egg onto a piece of wax paper. Put the flour and potato starch in a strainer set over a large bowl and sift into the bowl; whisk to thoroughly blend.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until it’s soft and creamy. Beat in the olive oil, followed by the grated yolk. Blend in the confectioners’ sugar, reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until the dough just comes together—there’s no reason to beat this dough, and you shouldn’t—then stir in the chopped olives. You’ll have a soft, pliable dough. (If you prefer, you can make the dough by hand, using a rubber spatula to blend the butter, oil, yolk and sugar and to fold in the dry ingredients and olives.)

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into thirds, and shape each piece into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for several hours or, better yet, overnight. If you’re in a hurry, you can freeze the logs for an hour or so.

When you’re ready to bake the sablés, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Working with 1 log at a time, slice the cookies 1/4 inch thick and arrange them on the baking sheet—you want to bake these one sheet at a time.

Bake the sablés for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the midway mark, or until the cookies are firm, but not colored. They may turn golden around the edges, but you don’t want them to brown. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool, and repeat with the remaining logs of dough, making sure to use a cool baking sheet each time.

Makes about 60 cookies.

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