Poppy Seed Shortbread with Ginger and Nutmeg


I make cookies so I have cookies to eat—and not just any cookie, but a French sablé, my favorite buttery shortbread that I enhance with olive oil and spices. I was taught to make sablé Breton in Cancale, France, by chef Olivier Roellinger; it became my weekly task, one I loved. Decades later, I returned to the sablé to sell at La Boîte. For years, I tinkered with formulas to hit the right balance of butter, sugar, and spice (we still change our selections each season), so they snap at first, then crumble, and finally melt in your mouth. When sandwiched, they stay crunchy with drier fillings and meld into tenderness with others. To achieve that magical texture, there’s a high proportion of fat and sugar to flour. That can make the dough a little sticky and soft, so just keep popping it back in the fridge or freezer if it’s difficult to work with. The dough’s still easy to roll and bake, and the cookies are especially satisfying to eat when they come out of your own oven.

The combination of ginger, amchoor, and nutmeg offer a hint of gingerbread’s warmth, but the poppy seeds keep the cookies a little nutty.