Bien Cuit

We like our blondes, here in America.
I mean baked goods, of course.
We tend to pull our cookies and cakes and (especially) breads and pastries out of the oven when the edges just start to turn golden, or when the tops begin to color.

Mais ça se fait pas en France.
American bakers, myself included, tend to get nervous when our cookies start to turn gold.
We get anxious when our breads change from pale to deeply tanned.
We panic when our caramel goes from honey to amber.
Until the hipster revolution, we even became alarmed when butter browned in the pan.  
(The horror!  How could one live without brown butter?!)
But I’ll let y’all in on a little secret: more often than not, in that change, that lovely chemical reaction, resides the most intense flavors.
Let’s get real: the French had beurre noisette long before we did; 
our pale, day-old bakery breads have nothing on the still-warm, minutes-from-the-oven, baguettes bien cuites that many grab on their way home for dinner; 
the modern word caramel originated as the word for burnt sugar in French; 
our sugar cookies are the paler, less crisp version of sablés.
Even the chemical reaction responsible for all this nutty, wonderful browning was discovered by a French scientist- Louis-Camille Maillard.
Safe to say, they’ve got us beat.
But just try this lovely reaction on for size.  I dare you.
Next time you bake bread, leave it in a bit longer than you think you want it in for.  
Let it become browned and golden.  
Pull it out, let it cool slightly, and eat it warm, with butter or olive oil and Parmesan.
It’s a revelation to eat well-done, fresh and warm bread.
(Maybe I should post about how to bake French bread?  Hmm?)
Next time a recipe calls for melted butter, brown it (I always, always do).
Take your caramel just a little deeper before pouring in cold, sweet cream.  
You will be substantially rewarded with very, very happy taste buds.
These cookies are a lovely little reminder that it’s okay to leave things in a little longer.
They’re golden and crunchy, crispy with butter and extra salty.  
They go quickly- don’t plan on having them around for too long.
Whether with a cup of strong tea or coffee, or even a glass of cold milk, these cookies just plain make sense.
I ordered this cookie stamp from France… I simply couldn’t resist.
It took weeks to get here, and when I tore open the package, I fell doubly in love. 
(It even came with un petit livre de recettes!)
If you want to use a cookie stamp, be sure to apply even, firm pressure all over the stamp.  
I suggest finding a cookie cutter of similar size to the stamp, then stamping the rolled out dough before cutting the rounds out; this way, you avoid any cracked or unsightly edges.
Use this recipe, being 100 million % sure not to overwork the dough; add a tiny bit more kosher salt.  
Mix until just combined- the dough should be soft and supple, not tough and beaten into submission!  Seriously!  Can’t stress the gentleness enough!
Refrigerate well, and brush with 1 egg mixed with 2 tablespoons water twice before baking.  
Bake until bien cuit– well done- nice and toasty golden brown.  
It should take about 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees F.
They will be buttery and very crisp.

2 thoughts on “Bien Cuit

  1. Hi Rachel,

    I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog! The photography is beautiful! Like you, I am obsessed with anything French, especially desserts. Can you please direct me to where you got the cookie press for these sables? Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much Christine! I bought the cookie press from many moons ago… It took me a lot of searching to find and I’m afraid I can’t find the link. But there are similar English word cookie stamps that you can easily find 🙂 Hope this helps a little! xx

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