Thought we could use to lighten things up a bit. I spent some time this morning baking. From my blog:
I recently had to get a Costco membership – long, boring story – but it’s already paying off. When I came home from Paris four years ago, my suitcase contained 10 packages of St. Michel Butter Cookies (Galettes). I was besotted. Super buttery, flakey, not terribly sweet with just a touch of salt. Costco sells them by the very large tin.
I’ve been trying to recreate them ever since, but it’s difficult from memory. Now I have a tin of them, I stand a better chance. These come very, very close.
French Butter Cookies
- 1/2 cup French Butter**
- 1/4 cup +1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1/4 cup skim milk POWDER
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- dash of lemon zest
- 1 egg yolk, dash of water
- Mix together 2:1 sugar and salt
These need a mixer to create the flaky texture. Whip butter until fluffy, add sugar. Mix again until fluffy. Add egg yolk and mix well. Finally, add flour and skim milk 1/4 cup at a time, combining before adding more. Finish with baking powder and lemon zest.
**If you can’t find French butter add 1/2 tsp salt to the batter. French butter contains more salt per serving than regular butter. It also has a very distinct flavor that I’ve never been able to recreate, so without it, cookies are delicious, but they aren’t quite St. Michel’s.
Remove to a floured surface and roll out to less than 1/4 inch thickness. The thinner, the crisper the cookie. The dough is super crumbly, so it’s easiest between two silpats or on a marble surface with plastic wrap covering the top. It’s very dry here now, so I brushed a tiny bit of water over the dough before rolling thin.
Cut with a cookie cutter. Brush with egg yolk and sprinkle lightly with sugar/salt mixture.
Bake at 350 degree F for about 8 minutes. I set my timer for 4 minutes and then added 2 minutes until they were done.
If you want the traditional criss/cross pattern, it’s a bit more complicated. The dough is too delicate to use the fork method for each cookie. Instead, you’ll need to roll them out completely, refrigerate or freeze until firm. Then run a fork diagonally across the sheet of dough in one direction, and then again in the other direction. Only after the marks are made can you cut with a cookie cutter.
You gotta know, unless I was baking for a super special crowd, that’s a bit too much work for a cookie that tastes just as good without those marks. Like, are Prince Harry and Meghan coming over? VP Harris? Then, nope. ;-)
Besides, I made such pretty heart shapes.
Also this week I made Pasta Jambalaya and Cajun Catfish and Buttered Potato Pie. I’m in a pre-Mardi Gras mood…
Bonus puppies. How is this even comfortable?
Just a heads up…for Wednesday’s Acts of Kindness post, I will have a little surprise for y’all.
So what does everyone have cooking for Super Bowl, Valentine’s or just this weekend in general? I’m in charge of souped-up nachos for SB Sunday. I’m mostly in it for the snacks and Puppy Bowl…
The Super Bowl? That’s some kind of sports event, right?
Those French cookies look as though they’re just surrendering to the coffee.
Yum. Need to try those. I think I need to make some Martha Stewart Broken Heart cookies. I think of them as cookies from Chocolat as they have a dash of black pepper and cayenne in them that adds a slight after-sizzle. The recipe makes about 1,000 cookies and takes forever so it doesn’t come out often.
@SpaceUnit: Careful, you may have seen how they effortlessly break windows when roused.
Steak sandwiches, onion rings, bean salad with avocados and beets. Puppy bowl.
Not sure if I already linked this — OMG, that looks good.
Couple of other recipes ran across recently that set the taste buds aflutter:
Stilton and Leek Soup
Spaghetti Squash Ziti.
Gonna experiment with a make it up as I go along, little bit of this and a little bit of that sweet ‘n’ sour cabbage soup using the Instant Pot later on today.
@NotMax: I am pretty sure they have that salad in your video link, at the deli at my local grocery. I’ll have to check tomorrow.
I first heard of French butter cookies on the Great British Baking Show except they used the dough for a tart. They called the dough sables breton. So I did a bit of googling and found this recipe which is very good. Yours sounds much easier though. I’m going to bake some tomorrow. Thanks!
@Regine Touchon: I had actually tried that recipe, and for whatever reason, it fell short. I took the ingredients off the St Michel’s container – I think the milk powder and baking powder keep them flaky and crisp…
@TaMara: Can’t wait to try yours…don’t have powdered milk. Might have to wait till I make my grocery run this week.
@Regine Touchon: Well, I now have an entire box of it…LOL…no idea what I’m going to do with the remainder, luckily it’s in individual envelopes, so I guess it will keep.
Veal meatball Marsala (I’m making it up more or less), tonight.
I got a beautiful cherry red Dutch oven for my birthday and I’m trying out a baby back rib recipe in it for the Super Bowl. Not a snacker but I LIKE BEER.
Marginally topical as it’s something for the kitchen.
Last of the handful of small items ordered from Amazon on January 20 straggled in today. Has been in postal limbo at the USPS tracking site for three weeks.
” I’m mostly in it for the snacks and Puppy Bowl… ”
Most superbowls are about the snacks, at least for me.
Edit: thanks for the post about those wonderful butter cookies. I can’t make any kind of pastry or cookie thing for the life of me. But I can get lost in fantasized baking prowess and dream of what might be in a parallel universe.
I like the idea of the lemon zest in there.
I gotta pay attention to the critters and get the ducks into their coop, but I’ll leave you with this:
Maybe not the pinnacle of cookies but virtually foolproof.
I saw that this morning. If that’s not the picture of joy, I don’t know what is!
Your cookie recipe reminds me a bit of cookies my family made for years at Christmas – Spitzbuben. Mom got the recipe from her best friend; her friend’s mother was German (emigrated to Hays, Kansas from Ukraine around the time of the Russian Revolution – the story is the family left Germany for Ukraine during the reign of Catherine the Great, but when Communists took over, the family decided to get out and go to America).
Back to the cookie. My mother decided she was going to make those cookies, and they are delicious, but Jesus, Mary and Joseph, making them is a pain in the ass. The ingredients are simple – a pound of butter, 4 cups flour, 1 cup sugar and a teaspoon of salt. Chill, roll them out to a quarter inch or so, cut dough with a diamond shape cookie cutter (no other shape, it violates the Spitzbuben rules, I guess), brush top with beaten egg, flop the egged top into bread crumbs. Bake at 400 degrees 10 minutes. Now, if that ain’t enough, you then spread strawberry jam on one cookie, top with another cookie (a sandwich cookie) and then sprinkle both sides with powdered sugar. Oh, you end up with 5 dozen cookies.
People go nuts over these cookies. I had to help make these damned things every night for several weeks before Christmas so my mother could give boxes of these sugar fat bombs to every family member, friends, you name it. At first, I really like the cookies, but one day at school, I noticed my hands smelled JUST LIKE THE COOKIES. Not a bad smell, but after that, I was done. Once I left home, my dad took my place, and as he is Mr. Efficient, he made heavy duty aluminum cookie sheets big enough that 5 dozen cookies would fit – the cookies don’t spread, so they can be very close together – and by golly, if you don’t arrange them just right, he’d get pissed! He did make cookie sheets for me, and they are fantastic – but I use them for chocolate chip cookies!
They aren’t the French cookies, and I think I would love those cookies, but just making them would give me Spitzbuben PTSD! However, Spitzbuben are great “coffee” cookies, and the longer they sit around, the better they get.
@TaMara: Baking powder is the leavener used probably because the dough is essentially alkaline (milk powder). I find baking powder generally provides more rise and a softer finish compared to baking soda and an acid (you could sub buttermilk powder here). If you want a really thin and crispy cookie you can use ammonium bicarbonate (hartshorn) which leavens in a completely different way. Not sure how well it works in this kind of recipe though.
@JR: I used the ingredients on the container – they use baking powder, so that’s what I used. I probably would have defaulted to baking soda, as that’s what I use in almost every other cookie I make.
And funny story – the first time I made them, I did not have skim milk powder, so instead I substituted 2 tbsp of buttermilk powder – completely changed the flavor. Not a bad cookie, but not what I was going for.
So, I will discourage anyone from using that as a substitute.
I have a couple of boxes of Girl Scouts thin mints in the freezer which is about as close as I get to baking these days. I tried a Chef José Andrés scrambled egg hack in the microwave that was yummy: one egg whipped with a dollop of mayo nuked for 48 secs, topped with Romano on toast… good!
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Mike E: Thin Mints are best frozen.
I did a quick google. It seems the key difference between French and other butters is French is made from slightly fermented cream. The switch from skim milk powder to buttermilk powder might get you closer. Otherwise, there are recipes online to make cultured butter. How obsessed with these cookies are you?
If I could just get the lady down the street and that asshole from the bar to do a YT spoof channel of that show, I’d be the next whatever.
Every episode would end with one of them killing the other with a kitchen implement.
@Dorothy A. Winsor:
Two boxes are staring me down this very moment.
After my own heart.
I worked in pro sports full time for 11 yrs after I worked at it for 20 part time as an amateur official. I met a lot of interesting people, some of them I actually liked and wanted to talk to…. But the egos and BS can be a bit too much on a daily basis. Also there were a lot of 70+ hr weeks and one week a year was right around 100 hrs working long. I’m assuming that I got burned out but maybe it was just the feeling of never getting a real rest.
Chili, puppy bowl, all good.
eta: made a batch of oatmeal cinnamon raisin cookies the other night. These are usually foolproof but this time, not so much. They are usually dense anyway, but these didn’t flatten out as they baked. Stayed kinda like lumps – very tasty, but the density of denatured uranium. Could baking powder be too old, even if date showed it was okay?
wow, this is the content i am here for. lol. (seriously I will bake these).
Yowzah. Time was foodie threads were a regular weekly happening to look forward to.
@Dorothy A. Winsor: We got 5 boxes! Thin Mints rule!
Oh là là! Those cookies look merveilleux! I am totally going to try that recipe next weekend. Trader Joe’s carries French butter, and I already have powdered milk because I bought it for a recipe and by the time I got home I had forgotten what I was planning to make.
I just made galette des rois – I’m ridiculously late for Epiphany (plus, also, Jewish ?) so I decided it’s a Mardi Gras thing and I’m actually early. And we’re having grilled steak and chili beans and salad at Colette jeune’s request, since his university has reopened and he’s finally going back to the dorm tomorrow.
baking powder does go weak some months after opening (I think 6 or so?), I try to remember to write the date I opened it on the can, but usually forget lol
@M31: Really? I’ve got some that I use when I make Cowboy Cookies that must be at least 20 years old. It seems fine. I’m about 50 feet above sea level, if it matters.
Whenever I’ve had a batch of cookies that didn’t bake right, it was because I left the baking powder out by mistake.
Drop some in hot water. As long as it fizzes, it’s fine.
James E Powell
If we can’t find French butter, are we using salted butter, then adding 1/2 tsp salt or unsalted butter?
@Quiltingfool: That’s how I felt this Christmas when I thought about making my favorite cookies. Delicious, but what a production! So I just made quick brownies with red and green sugar sprinkles, and everyone was happy.
I love galettes and we bought loads of them when we were in France a few years ago.
You’re right about French butter. It tastes nothing like the butter we used to get in the UK, nor the butter here in Australia. You can’t beat the taste of it of a piece of freshly baked and still warm crusty baguette.
Thanks a lot for the recipe!
I could swear the galette from the same company, but bought in any France grocery store, instead of Costco or Amazon, taste even better.
@M31: It doesn’t like humidity. Mine lasts for years in my dark cupboard near the stove. Not so much elsewhere in the kitchen. It comes in a container with a plastic lid. I bring it out, measure what I need, and then immediately put the lid back on and hide it back in the cupboard.
@sab: I never make Spitzbuben! I have spoiled my husband’s family by making a ton of chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cookies for the holidays – like 10 dozen! This Christmas, my inner self screamed NO! so I made box brownies, but I added extras to them to make them a little fancier. Honestly, I think plain ol’ brownies would have worked – the family isn’t fussy.
@currawong: French butter is often a little fermented too — little bit more sour. High in butterfat. All sorts of little differences.
ETA. yes, I am reading from the bottom up, I did give that away, didn’t I. Sorry!
Those cookies do look good.
Next on my baking agenda is Smitten Kitchen’s double chocolate banana bread—the bananas are just about ripe enough. Needing a serious chocolate hit.
@Kristine: That chocolate banana bread looks so good, and I don’t much like banana bread
My granddaughter brought us some coffeecake banana bread, and it made me reconsider my banana bread aversion.
I am planning Mystery Cake bundt cake for Valentine’s Day. The mystery being tomato soup. Husband loves cake and loves tomato soup. The only issue is the raisins, which he doesn’t much like, but the cake would be drab without them. Maybe only on one side?
@sab: Maybe currants instead of raisins? They’re a bit more tart and might add a nice snap to the sweetness of the cake. On the other hand, since they’re so small, they’d be hard to pick out if he doesn’t like them either.
Chocolate and fruit? Definitely different.
CHOCOLATE AVOCADO PUDDING
2 medium size ripe avocados
2 Tbl vegetable oil
1/3 cup agave or maple syrup or honey
3 dates soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 – 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or similar non-dairy milk
Add ingredients to a blender or food processor in this order: oil, dates, honey, vanilla, half your non-dairy milk, avocados, cocoa powder.
Blend for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Pour in additional non-dairy milk a little at a time until the pudding is the consistency you want. Remember it will thicken after chilling in the refrigerator.
Dates. After all, it’s Valentine’s Day.
(Dried figs might also work in a pinch)
ETA He claims that he hates avocados, never having eaten one. This might be a good, sneaky test.
What is to hate in an avocado
Also too he loves desserts, and I don’t often make them, since my mom watched her and our weight.
@Comrade Colette: Currants are a great idea. And I have some. Thanks.
Thanks for the link to David Lebovitz’s site. That took me back to an episode of Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street that Lebovitz did in Paris. The galette des rois looks delicious; I like all pastries with almond cream, almond filling, almond paste—almond anything. I used to get some delicious almond pastries in New Orleans about a hundred years ago.
And the next entry, about the Maison Castro sandwicherie, had some great ideas in it. Lebovitz bookmarked. Now to find some crunchy baguettes.
@sab: I love banana bread. My go-to recipe has always been this one from Simply Recipes. I play with it so much. I use white whole wheat flour and sometimes add so many spices and things like toasted nuts and dried fruit that it doesn’t even taste like banana bread.
Chocolate chips work, too.
The SK recipe has more butter and uses brown sugar instead of white. A friend has already made me promise to bring a loaf the next time I visit.
@Kristine: Thanks. That’s going to the top of my to do list.
My heart medicine means I need more potassium. I buy lots of bananas but I don’t much like them after they go yellow with spots. So having good banana bread recipes is useful. But they need to avoid too much of that ripe banana taste because otherwise I would just have eaten the ripe banana.
Mentioned previously; when it comes to cake, Triumph of Gluttony is truth in advertising on a plate.
In solidarity with them from afar, feel must acknowledge Ukrainian Cheesecake (Lviv Syrnyk).
Now the Portuguese-American rendition of a ‘king cake’, as done in the bakeries of Newark’s Ironbound, is a big ring of ‘Danish pastry’, studded iwth lots of big chunks of candied fruit. Displayed in profusion from November to Ash Wednesday, though available other times
If you ever need some grahm cracker crumbs, consider going to nearest ‘Latin quarter’ and looking for Gullón Digestive Classic cookies
Taste much like graham crackers, but not as much sugar, and the local Portuguese supermarket sells them at $1.69 for a 14 oz package.
@NotMax: made this twice. Once everyone in the family liked it. The second time something was wrong. Tasted fruity, the “off” fruity of something starting to spoil. Sticking to my usual mousse recipes now
@M31: The date on the container applies to before it’s opened. Once opened and exposed to the air, all bets are off. I actually finally learned a few years ago to buy fresh baking powder, baking soda, etc. every year, before my Christmas baking. I throw away leftovers after a year. It’s not that expensive compared to wasted effort on baked goods that don’t turn out.