Sables (Algerian Shortbread Cookies): A Cookie Cutter Conundrum

Close up of Algerian cookies

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Sables, or Algerian cookies are a delicious shortbread cookie sandwich usually topped with powdered sugar and filled with some type of jam. These shortbread cookies are delicious in all contexts, whether its to taste the culture of Algeria or simply to impress at your next Christmas party.

A Controversial Topic

Very important question for all of you: Are cookie cutters considered a seasonal item?

Because I believe, very strongly, that NO they are not.

When I knew I was going to bake this recipe, I wanted to make sure that my cookies looked beautiful for the photographs that you all were going to see! So I took a trip to Kroger’s “baking needs” section in search of some elegant floral cookie cutters.

You can use a glass to cut out the cookie shapes like I did

I looked high and low, but couldn’t find a single cookie cutter in the whole store. After searching for a few minutes, I asked a nearby manager for help. He informed me that cookie cutters are a seasonal item and therefore wouldn’t be out on the shelves until about Halloween.

EXCUSE YOURSELF SIR. There is never a wrong time for beautifully shaped cookies. Flower-shaped cookies should be a year long affair, please and thank you. The nerve.  

Improvisation

I returned home to my kitchen without a cookie cutter, wondering what I was going to do. My mom (she is the sweetest) tore my kitchen apart looking for two circular shapes in exactly the right size to make these Algerian cookies (Sables). Finally, my mother, the savior of every problem I’ve had with The Foreign Fork, found two perfect objects.

Cookie tops with powdered sugar
After the tops are baked, lay them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with powdered sugar

I rolled out my dough, cut out, and baked my cookie shapes. Then I sprinkled delicate powdered sugar on the tops, spread jam on the cookies, and sandwiched them together. As I was cleaning up, I opened up a cabinet I haven’t opened in quite some time. There, sitting in front of me, was a gorgeous floral cookie cutter.

Please, I don’t want to talk about it.

Sand

The dough for my Algerian cookies (Sables) turned out looking almost exactly the same as my dough for my Albanian cookies. You remember, right? My sheqerpare dough was so dry that I added milk to the dough (consequently, ruining it).

Turns out, this is exactly how the dough is supposed to be. Sable means “sand” in French, and, initially, this dough appears so crumbly that it looks like dry sand! As you knead it, it comes together to look more like wet sand and easily forms into a dough.

These cookies are a great way to taste the flavors of Algeria! However, they would also be great just to share at a party or a Christmas cookie exchange. And the best part is that if you decide to make them as Christmas cookies, you’ll be able to find a seasonal cookie cutter to make them even more beautiful. Enjoy!

Algerian Sable Cookies (Shortbread Cookies with Raspberry Jam)

These Algerian cookies are a delicious sandwich of shortbread cookies filled with raspberry jam and topped with powdered sugar. 

Course Cookies, Dessert
Servings 20 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup raspberry jam or preserve of your choice
  • 1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F

  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. 

  3. Beat in the egg & vanilla. Then use a wooden spoon to mix in the flour and baking powder.

  4. The dough will turn out looking like dry sand at first. Use your hands to knead the dough until it sticks together in one brick. 

  5. Flour a slick surface and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough. Use two different cookie cutters to cut out the top and bottom cookies from the dough. On the "tops", use another cookie cutter to cut out a center shape so that you can see the jam through the dough. 

  6. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and bake the cookies for about 14 minutes. I liked mine to be just turning yellow on the bottom. 

  7. Remove the cookies from the tray. As the tops cool, put powdered sugar in a sifter and sprinkle sugar over the tops of the cookies. 

  8. Put the jam in a pot on the stove and heat until it just begins to boil. 

  9. Once the jam has begun to cool, spread an equal amount on each cookie "bottom". Place the "top" over the jam, and allow to cook completely before enjoying. 

Recipe Notes

Recipe taken from Genius Kitchen

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