50/50 Sablé


The whole grain trend that is sweeping the nation is alright with me. The health benefits of whole grains are great, but the flavor is what keeps me coming back for more. They just taste good, and they make even the simplest thing more interesting. Kim Boyce schooled us all a few years ago, and I am happy each time the lesson is reinforced.


The first Tartine cookbook is one of my all-time favorite kitchen resources. It taught me a lot about the kind of rustic french-influenced American baking that I love so much. I refer to that book regularly and have been happily baking from it for years. The second book from America’s favorite bakery, Tartine Bread, was also beautiful, though I have to admit that I am not a baker who will ever keep a starter alive in my kitchen, or use a preferment. Maybe the world can be divided into two camps? I’ll throw together some no-knead bread, or bake a quick loaf of brioche- but more serious breads I will buy from people who can make them better and more easily than I can. It is a luxury of living in a city—access. So, while I appreciated Tartine Bread, I don’t think I’ve ever cooked from it.

We now have Tartine No. 3, a book focusing on whole grain baking. I was excited for the release of this book, and again it is well-executed. But again, it is for another sort of baker. In this third book even the tea cakes, scones and galette doughs require leaven and poolish. I have no doubt that the results of the effort would be delicious, but again— I’m not doin that.


Thankfully, there are a few recipes that don’t require advanced planning. My favorite is this recipe for 50/50 sablés, which are butter cookies made with various combinations of nuts and grains. It’s kind of like a choose-your-own-adventure cookie. They are simple to make and wonderful to eat. They can be made into small thumbprints, or eaten plain.

I made two versions, rye with pecan and barley with cashews. I loved them both. I liked the rye and pecan on its own, though it was also nice with raspberry jam. It had a kind of linzer cookies flavor, which you could enhance with some added spice. The barley and cashew was outrageously good with a spoonful of plum jam in the center (I think apricot would delicious too).

50/50 Sablés (from Tartine No. 3 by Chad Robertson)

The complete recipe is available here, along with more notes. Their version looks less hydrated than mine, not sue why but it sounds like both were successful. I followed the recipe exactly, except that I chilled the formed cookies in the fridge for a bit so they better held their shape in the oven. I did that because I was making thumbprints, probably not necessary if you’re not planning on filling them.

  • 186 grams nuts, pumpkin seeds, or cocoa nibs
  • 186 grams flour
  • 133 grams (2/3 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 133 grams (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, cut into pieces at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Spread the nuts or pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet and toast until golden in color. (Cocoa nibs are already toasted, so if making the cocoa nib-buckwheat version, skip this step.) Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the nuts, pumpkin seeds, or cocoa nibs, flour, sugar, and salt and pulse until very finely ground, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and add the butter by hand, a few pieces at a time, massaging the butter into the dry ingredients until it forms a dough. (If the dough seems dry and is not holding together, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and bring it together with your hands into one cohesive mass.

Roll the dough into two logs, each about 15 by 1/2 in/38 cm by 12 mm, then cut each log into 1/2-in/12-mm slices and roll each slice into a ball. Transfer the balls, spacing them about 1/2 in/12 mm apart, to parchment-lined baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking to ensure even browning, until the cookies are golden around the edges (depending on the nut-flour combination used, the golden hue will be more or less noticeable; with the cocoa nib and buckwheat combination it will be less noticeable, with the cashew-barley combination, more).

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies cool completely. The cookies will keep up to 3 days in an airtight container.

*** It is also worth noting that there are some very serious errors in the Chamomile Shortbread recipe. Like, it is a disaster. The publisher has assured me that they will correct the errors in the next printing- but I guess tread lightly with this book. Where there is one error, there are usually more. Ugh.

26 comments to “50/50 Sablé”

  1. I’ve been way too swamped since the year started to even drop by the bookstore and page through the new book, but I have been excited about it ever since I found out it was being published, so I’m glad that you’ve had some success with it so far! Do you think that cherry preserves would have any place with these cookies? It’s about all I have left from my stock of jam. Also, scones with a preferment…what? That might be too much even for me.

  2. Ha, Katie- I thought of you. You’d be up for tackling the recipes in the book and I hope you do. And yes! cherry would be great in the pecan rye and probably in some of the other combos.

  3. I’m so excited for this book!! These cookies look FAB!

  4. at last! something to do with that bag of barley flour sitting in my pantry!

  5. These look delicious! And I agree about the whole whole grains trend… I am a fan too!

  6. These look beautiful! I will do some experimenting of my own soon. :)

  7. I posted about Tartine No.3 today too! I agree, some of the recipes look daunting, but I am looking forward to diving deep into them. The chocolate rye cookies I made were super easy to put together and totally delicious.

  8. I had a straight-up mad scientist on my hands when I checked out the first Tartine book and my boyfriend decided it was bread or bust. The jars of suspicious starter experiments around our place are finally gone and I am firmly, happily in the no-knead camp.

    Thanks for breaking down a cookie recipe from Chad’s new book! I hope you work out a way to make chamomile shortbread, too. That sounds delicious.

  9. Yossy- those look beautiful! Curious to hear what else you find in the book.

  10. Thank you for this pleasant surprise. I think it seems daunting at first, but just think after a few attempts…wholesome goodies will come more naturally to create. (At least that is what I tell myself.) Happy Nesting.

  11. I think apricot sounds really good…and possibly dulce de leche! They look so yummy!

  12. I feel exactly the same way about tartine 2. I sat down and read it. It was beautiful and inspiring. But no: I ain’t doing that. Would much rather just buy the bread if it takes that much trouble! The cookies on the other hand, I can get behind that. Lovely stuff.

  13. I live on the same block as Tartine and still have all three cookbooks (all gifted but I’m a heavy hint-dropper). Numbers 2 and 3 in particular are visually stunning, but I’m yet to get a good starter going (even with the same climate conditions as the bakery!). That said, I will keep trying, and keep standing in line at 4pm to buy their bread, because it’s just that good. Thanks for highlighting these cookies, which I might otherwise have overlooked in the bread obsession!

  14. Being able to pick up a loaf of Tartine bread on the way home after work is one of the joys of living in the Bay Area, so I agree that it’s fine to leave the bread baking to the pros! But you should check out. Chad’s recipes for bread ‘leftovers’ in the back of the no. 2 book. Really yummy stuff!

  15. mmmmm, i just got my copy of t-3 in the mail, and dog-eared that page on impact. thanks for the feedback on the iterations — so many to choose from, so little time!

  16. Something tells me there might be in error hiding in this recipe as well. Seems to me you would need to significantly up the amount of sugar called for if you chose the cocoa nib route.

  17. Hmmm, Olivia- I am not sure if that is an error or a difference in taste. 2/3 cup of sugar is still a pretty healthy dose of sugar, even with the bitterness of cocoa nibs. If ou give it a try, let us know!

  18. I don’t know if it’s because I haven’t had a carbohydrate in almost 3 weeks, or because these just sound so unusual with the nuts and grains — worth breaking a fast for? Maybe! Thanks for escape!

  19. I’ve made these cookies several times, and they truly are amazingly delicious.

    As for the bread in Tartine Bread: Tim, you should go for it. It really is amazingly easy. I realize I’ve been baking bread for a couple of decades now, much of it with starter instead of packaged yeast (although I do have a massive canister of yeast in the freezer because I bake so often), so I realize that “easy” is subjective…

    …but the basic Tartine Bread process took my bread to entirely new heights.

    About starter: ten years ago, I bought my initial starter from King Arthur Flour, rather than trying to raise my own. It’s still alive and doing well in my refrigerator. You don’t need to feed it every day — when I’m not actively baking, I’ll sometimes let it go 1-3 weeks in the fridge without a feeding. Before I start baking with again I give it a full 24 hours of regular feedings and voilà! it’s back.

  20. Thanks for the encouragement, David! Yes, “easy” is indeed subjective (24 hours of regular feedings?!). Maybe someday I’ll get into home bread baking, but for now I will gladly support my local bakery. ; )

  21. Gorgeous thumbprint cookies! I am totally addicted to preserves and these look like the perfect way to incorporate more jam in baking! And using alternative grains/flours is so much fun and the flavour is phenomenal, especially with jam, right! I haven’t bought this book, but it’s definitely going on my list :)

  22. The Tartine books have been on my wishlist for a while, but at this side of the Atlantic they are not in the bookshops. So I can’t browse a copy to see if it’s worthwhile. Perhaps these cookies will win me over. They remind me much of the thumbprint cookies from the Tassajara recipe book by Edward Espe Brown, and those are my all time favorite standby cookies. I like to snack on them when coming home from work and at every other moment of the day.

  23. Goodness, these are delicious. So far I’ve tried walnut/buckwheat and hazelnut/barley, both with lingonberry jam. I formed the dough into cookie shapes, filled the indentations with jam, and then chilled for about 45 minutes. They were still really soft when they came out of the oven but firmed up enough to hold together for eating.
    I don’t have a kitchen scale (!) but was able to get acceptable measurement conversions through some googling. For buckwheat flour, 186g was about 1.5cups, while for the barley flour it’s more like 1.25cups.

  24. mmm. so glad you posted ; 0 been meaning to get to these and tried today it with buckwheat/almonds, filled with plum jam. The buckwheat can be a little hard to work with and benefits from chilling. super delicious with that nice sandiness, and easy though. the great thing about working with grams is you can divide recipes more easily. i got a nice small batch by dividing the #s by 6! xx

  25. Mm, sables! Maybe my favorite genre of cookie. I’ve been constantly baking Alice Medrich’s nibby buckwheat cookies since last winter, but I could do with a remix, probably! Thanks for an easy ratio.

  26. So glad you pointed out the errors in the chamomile shortbread cookies, I was going to make it with some leftover kamut flour I had!!

What do you think?