Chocolate-caramel shortbread sandwiches


I've been in a bit of a mad search for the perfect sablé recipe.  I'm completely obsessed with the sandy French butter cookies from the north of France.  The best ones I've had came from a tiny bakery called Grain de Vanille in a little town named Cancale on the rugged Brittany coast.  That-little-bakery-that-could is small in size but not stature, as it is owned and operated by the Michelin-three-star chef Olivier Roellinger.  We haven't been back there in a couple of years, and I'm positively aching for some of those sablés (though chef Roellinger calls them Galettes de Cancale.) 

I'm not quite ready to share the sablé recipe yet, I've got a really good one now, but I'm not sure if it's the ultimate yet.  I'll share it when I get there.  Meanwhile, my mad search resulted in loads of perfectly delicious, buttery sablé cookies – albeit not quite the caliber of le Grain de Vanille yet – and I had to do something with them.  That's when this idea came to me.  Cookie sandwiches!  The obvious choice is chocolate ganache – who doesn't love chocolate ganache?  But I wanted to make something even more special.  Yes, and what about some gooey salted butter caramel – didn't the NY Times just claim that everyone now loves salty caramels?  (As for me, I've loved them for ages thank you very much!)

But filling cookie sandwiches with gooey, salty caramel turned out to be a bit of a design problem.  The caramel oozed out of the cookies before it had enough time to set.  So here's where the ganache came into play again.  I piped the ganache along the edges of the cookie, forming a levy so I could pour the caramel inside.  Topped with another butter piece of cookie, the sandwich is now ready to be devoured.  The caramel will still ooze out once bitten into, but by then I am beyond caring – and so will you, too. 

You can use just about any butter cookie or shortbread recipe you like.  If you need some place to start, Dorie Greenspan's "punitions", as interpreted by Deb of Smitten Kitchen, is a very good one. 

This quantity of ganache and caramel will be enough to make about 24 (2-3 inch wide) cookie sandwiches.  (Doubling the recipe on Deb's blog should do.)


Chocolate Ganache
100g or 3 1/2 oz very good quality dark chocolate
120ml, 1/2 cup cream

Salted Butter Caramel
120g, 1/2 cup sugar
60g salted butter, at room temperature
100ml, 1/4cup+2tablespoons cream

Chop up the chocolate into small pieces.  Add the cream to a medium pot saucepan over low
heat and bring to a gentle simmer.  Add the chopped chocolates to the
pan, turn the heat off, and let sit for two minutes to melt.  Whisk until the ganache is
smooth and let rest until cool down a bit.  Fill a medium pastry bag with the ganache.  If you don't have a pastry bag, you can improvise one with a regular ziplog bag.  Add the ganache to the ziplog bag, seal it close and cut a hole in one corner so you can squeeze out the chocolate.  And there you have it, your pastry bag.

Let the ganache cool down just a little bit, then pipe it along the edges of a cookie to form a sort of levy.  Do this to half the amount of cookies or shortbread you made.  Let sit to cool down and set a bit more.  Meanwhile, you can make the caramel.

In a medium pot, add the sugar and let it melt over medium heat.  Shake
the pan occasionally to make sure all the sugar is melted.  Stir if you
need to.  Add cream to a small pot and bring to a gentle simmer.  When
the sugar melts and turn amber, add the cream and stir vigorously to
mix well.  Add the butter in small chunks and stir to blend.  Set the
caramel aside to cool down until lukewarm but still liquid.

Fill another pastry bag with caramel, and pipe it into the middle of each cookie, making sure the caramel stays inside the ganache so you don't make a mess.  Cover each one with another cookie to make cookie sandwiches.

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42 Responses to “Chocolate-caramel shortbread sandwiches

  • Pigpigscorner said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 2:48am

    oooo…the chocolate ganache looks wonderful!
    Good luck with your search!

  • alhya said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 5:01am

    i can’t wait for the shortbread recipe!!

  • Eileen said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 5:55am

    I haven’t eaten anything yet for breakfast this morning and this is making me very, very hungry!

  • Dana McCauley said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 6:27am

    Pim – you are brilliant! I’ve always had trouble with gooey stuff oozing out from this kind of cookie and here you have such a simple solution. You are my hero!

  • PHILO said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 6:51am

    Ca a l’air très bon !

  • Laura said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 7:13am

    You had me at salted caramel…

  • Nick said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 8:35am

    Looks good as always. The tip about the levy is an awesome one. Never would have thought of that but it makes complete sense.

  • Andre said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 9:41am

    Is salty caramel common in Thailand? I wouldn’t have thought so!

  • Barbra said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 10:39am

    Oh, I think I could eat a lot of those.

  • Isabelle mazzoni said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 12:21pm

    Ohhh, those looks devilishly good!!! So tempting, I think I just put 3 more pounds just looking at them 🙂
    One bite at a time!

  • Paula Maack said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 1:48pm

    What a perfectly delicious solution, Pim! I’m drooling.
    Will these be showing up at Lulu’s anytime soon?
    ~ Paula

  • Cristina said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 4:49pm

    In case you are still searching for solutions to the perfect sable, I tried a recipe today from Nov/Dec ’08 Cook’s Illustrated that incorporates the use of a hard boiled egg pressed through fine mesh instead of raw egg. The cookies were wonderfully sandy and with a little lemon zest in the dough they were light and delicious in taste. Good luck!

  • Hayley said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 5:03pm

    Looks delicious! I love caramel, as you can see from my latest post.

  • sofia said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 6:54pm

    dear pim!!!
    i really like your web page i think is so
    cool jejeje
    looks delicious good job!!! jejeje
    well i think in yor next search you find
    an other and delicious things!!!
    bye bye
    sofi!!! ;P

  • helen said:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 8:31pm

    Well whadaya know, I just so happen to have a jar of chocolate ganache and a jar of dulce de leche in the fridge. I guess I shouldn’t quit that gym membership just yet.

  • Gastroanthropologist said:
    January 23rd, 2009 at 1:04am

    I’ve just died and gone to heaven. Salted Caramel is my favorite and with choc ganache on a sable? Stop it!
    You are onto something here…
    My favorite form of Salted Caramel are the CBS carmels, but its to Paris for those…my second favorite form of Salted Caramel is in the ice cream form…maybe I’ll smash up some sable, fold it into the ice cream and have it as the filling for a chocolate cookie IC sandwich.

  • Gourmet Chick said:
    January 23rd, 2009 at 2:30am

    I love Laura’s comment above – you had me at salted carmael. Did you know salted caramels are Obama’s favourites? Even more reason to eat them. If you are in the UK, Melt in Notting Hill sells a divine version.

  • Mari said:
    January 23rd, 2009 at 5:44am

    I love the square shapes, very chic!

  • deb said:
    January 23rd, 2009 at 7:00am

    I skimmed this yesterday when it appeared in my Reader and thought, oh, a recipe for perfect sables, I already have one! Today I reread it and realized that we are of similar minds. I agree the punitions are a great jumping off point but I still can’t get them to taste as perfect and toasty as they do at Poilane. Obviously, some caramel and ganache will fix all!

  • katie said:
    January 23rd, 2009 at 11:54am

    Wow. The chocolate looks well tempered. temperaments. salted caramel is one of those fads that I am all about.
    additionally, I love the lighting on your pics. my pictures are dark lit, I am trying to educate myself on the secrets behind back light, incandescent, soft light etc.
    jeez blogging = cooking + fotography
    when do you sleep?

  • mattman said:
    January 24th, 2009 at 10:05pm

    I just made these today, they came out great! I think I would probably use a slightly less intense dark chocolate next time, as the 75% cocoa, while tasty, was a little too sharp for most people who tried them. But all in all, a big winner! Oh, and as it was my first time making caramel, the cream hitting the sugar was a little surprising, but no harm done 🙂

  • zoe / puku said:
    January 24th, 2009 at 10:49pm

    wow, look at your precision squares! and of course, great flavour combo Pim!

  • EB said:
    January 25th, 2009 at 3:38pm

    I could die happy eating those.

  • Katie said:
    January 26th, 2009 at 3:00pm

    I am sure these taste as good as they look. I am going to make them tonight!

  • Mark Scarbrough said:
    January 27th, 2009 at 5:39am

    If you don’t hurry up and publish that sable recipe. . . .
    I LIVE for Paris. These would be a WAY cheaper alternative to an airplane ticket these days.

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:51pm

    No, not exactly salted caramels, but sweets in Thailand are always balanced with salt, at times quite assertively so. Salty desserts, as well as the “trend” of using savory ingredients in desserts are as old as time in Asia – ok, perhaps not that old, but quite old nonetheless.

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:52pm

    They already did two weeks ago. I might get around to making a batch next week, just keep checking!

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:54pm

    Thanks for the tips. The hard-boiled yolk passed through the tami is also a trick employed by Pierre Hermé. I’ve done it once, but found it really too much of a bother. There has got to be an easier solution, and my search goes on.

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:55pm

    Have you tried David Lebovitz’s salted caramel ice cream recipe in his ice cream book? If not you should certainly try.

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:56pm

    You got it! We should send caramel and ganache to the middle east. 😉

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:57pm

    You gave me too much credit. The lighting is my kitchen/dining room lighting, I just white balance a bit.

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:58pm

    That depends on what brand chocolate you use, I think. Mine is Valrhona, and I don’t think it’s sharp at all.
    Yes, making caramels is always a bit of a risk, but just think about the results!

  • Pim said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 1:59pm

    Does that mean you’ll send the ticket to me instead?

  • Angela @ A Spoonful of Sugar said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 2:55pm

    Oh wow, those are beyond sexy, Pim!

  • Gastroanthropologist said:
    January 29th, 2009 at 3:09pm

    No. But I’m going to his blog now to see if I can get it. Thanks for the tip!

  • said:
    February 1st, 2009 at 10:40pm

    Do you remember Clothilde’s experiments with roasted flour sables? (Otherwise known as Squeeze Cookies I’ve made them and the slight nutty flavour made them just delectable when I drizzled some melted Valhrona over them. They are, however, no where near as pretty as yours; but if one squeezed them into a mini-muffin pan and made little sable cups that you could pour the caramel into and top with chocolate then they might not last long enough to take pictures of 🙂
    I second Katie’s comments, the pics are just gorgeous!

  • Barry said:
    February 19th, 2009 at 10:26am

    These look and sound amazing – let me know when you have found the perfect Sable biscuits! I had the pleasure of having some in Maze, London – they were so short you could barely pick them up!

  • starla said:
    March 15th, 2009 at 10:28am

    the ganache levy….awesome idea!!! plus chocolate and caramel paired together…how could you go wrong? 🙂

  • acai effect said:
    December 4th, 2009 at 11:49am

    Oh they look deliciouuuus…I started drooling….all that chocolate…yummy…but I don’t know what does salty caramel taste like..I love sweet caramel..not sure how I’d go with salty..will have to ask my wife to make some so I can taste it for myself…

  • miami mansion rentals said:
    June 3rd, 2010 at 6:41am

    Oh, they look so delicious! And they are so easy to make, I have to try them soon.

  • Fort Lauderdale catering said:
    September 13th, 2010 at 10:40pm

    Wow! Great post. This never crossed my mind but thanks for the recipe and great idea. Food has always been interesting and creative. This is one proof on how food can be so versatile. Thanks for this!

  • Myra in CS said:
    November 5th, 2012 at 4:58am

    Hi there! Love your site! Have you found the “perfect” sable recipe yet? If not, can you please share your current favorite? Please? I really want to try this recipe, and I only trust your recipes! Thank you so much!

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