Wednesday, 14 March 2018

French Sweet and Salty Biscuits

"France cannot be France without greatness" 
Charles de Gaulle
French Sweet and Salty Biscuits
I feel the pull to go back to visit France, but I can't get there this year, so I have done the next best thing and indulged in a little French cuisine. 

While French cuisine and vegetarian don't go that well together, I've been able to adapt some recipes which gives me a taste of France and some solace at times like this. But more about those later. I'm here with a treat for you today and a warning message.

Before giving you this recipe I have to make apologies. 

I am sorry that you may not lose weight because you will eat too many of these biscuits. You will not be able to make a batch and keep them to yourself.
You will probably send extra time in the kitchen because you'll have to keep making more and more of them. But by golly they are worth all of this!

These biscuits are crunchy on the outside, soft and delicious on the inside. Sweet, but not sickly and amazingly the salty topping just gives you something that says "yes!"

I first made these biscuits in the 1980's and I think people were surprised that a  bit of salt on the top of something sweet worked so well. The French use this combination in many of their dishes, but in the 80's, it was quite daring!

There's a variety of French salty desserts like Kouign -Amann and the move to using salted butter rather than unsalted butter for pastries has become very popular. Sablés, salty biscuits from Breton are crispy sweet biscuits made using salted butter.  David Lebovitz has a lovely recipe for these on his site;

The recipe I am sharing today is the combination of a plain sweet biscuits made using soft dark brown sugar and adding salt flakes part way through cooking, to give you that salty kick. And as I said earlier - I'm sorry!  Bon chance!


The most important aspect of making these biscuits is to get the butter to the right colour before continuing. It can be tricky, but don't try to rush the process and you will be fine.


210g of butter
2 cups soft dark brown sugar
2 cups plain flour 
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup caster sugar
salt flakes

Pre heat oven to 170ºFan Forced/350º/Gas 4

In a small saucepan over a very low heat melt only 200g butter. Keep cooking the butter very slowly, twirling around in the saucepan every minute until the butter turns golden brown. Once it turns take it off the heat. If you leave it too long it will burn and you can't use it, so go slowly and carefully. (This is the only tricky bit, the rest you can do with your eyes closed). Once you have reached this point take off the heat and stir in the remainder 10g butter. Allow to cool for 12 minutes. Phew, all done!

Now whisk the dark brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon table salt into the butter, so there are no lumps.

Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and whisk again.

Combine flour, soda, baking powder and mix into the butter, again make sure the flour is completely mixed in. The dough is getting quite stiff by now. 

In a small bowl add caster sugar. Now take tablespoons of the mixture and roll into balls. You should make 24 -  26 small balls out of this dough. Now roll the balls in the caster sugar then place them on two trays lined with baking paper.

At this point I like to flatten them a little. Leave space between the balls to allow for the biscuits to rise.

Bake in the oven for 8 -10 minutes until they just start to brown, then sprinkle them with salt flakes. Put them back in the oven and bake for a further 2 - 4 minutes until they look light brown but not dry. 

Cool on the tray for 2 minutes then transfer to a rack until completely cold.

You can freeze these but allow them to defrost slowly.

Then, try and eat only one - ha ha, I bet you couldn't do it.

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