Recently on a Saturday morning young friends in Paris suggested that we get together for dinner that evening at their apartment. They had a toddler and no baby sitter, but wanted to entertain. Together we decided to buy most of the dishes—an easy task in this city that boasts tempting food specialty shops in every neighborhood. I volunteered to bring purchased appetizers and a simple homemade dessert, while our pals chose to oversee the main course. The dinner was not only delicious, but also stress-free.
For openers, my spouse and I arrived with fresh marinated artichokes, thinly sliced herbed ham, stuffed olives, and a slice of pâté. Roast chicken, ratatouille, and a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta followed. But we lingered longest over the dessert of juicy sliced peaches and plump raspberries served with a bowl of crème fraiche scented with honey and minced ginger. It took less than a half hour to assemble from start to finish, and was easy to transport, even on one of the city’s crowded buses.
One of our hosts, while helping himself to seconds of dessert, suggested that crispy cookies would be a nice partner to the peaches and cream confection. I saw his point, and this past week baked rich French butter cookies known as sablés. For my version, I replaced some of the flour with toasted ground almonds and loved the results. When stored in an airtight container, the cookies hold up well for several days. Serve them with your favorite summer fruits and a bowl of honey crème fraiche for an easy finale to warm weather meals.
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Honey Crème Fraîche with Peaches and Almond Sablé Cookies
1 cup crème fraîche
1 1/2 tbsp honey
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 pounds yellow peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1 cup raspberries or strawberries or a combination
Several mint sprigs for garnish
1. Whisk crème fraiche, honey, and ginger together in a medium bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl. Combine sliced peaches and raspberries in a bowl and garnish with a few mint sprigs. Serves 4.
Almond Sablé Cookies
3/4 cup whole raw almonds with skins, roasted (See cooking note.)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp sea salt such as fleur de sel
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1. Coarsely chop 1/4 cup of the roasted almonds and reserve for the garnish. Transfer the remainder to a food processor, and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. In a medium bowl, stir together almonds, flour, and fleur de sel.
2. With an electric mixer on medium low speed, cream the butter. Add the sugar, and beat about a minute until blended. Gradually, beat in the flour mixture. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and vanilla, and add it to the creamed butter, beating well until combined.
3. Remove the mixture to a lightly floured work surface and shape into two logs, each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and about 3 1/2 inches long. (If dough is too soft to shape, refrigerate it for 30 minutes until firmer.) Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until very firm, about 1 1/2 hours.
4. Arrange a rack in the center and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Have ready two baking sheets lined with parchment.
5. With a sharp knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch thick slices, and arrange them an inch apart on the baking sheets. Garnish the center of each cookie with some of the reserved chopped almonds, pressing down with your fingers so the pieces adhere to the dough. Bake, one sheet at a time, until edges of cookies and the bottoms are lightly browned, about 12 to 14 minutes. Watch carefully. Remove and transfer to a rack to cool. (If you are using a single oven, refrigerate the second sheet until ready to bake.) Makes about 28 cookies.
Cooking note: To toast almonds spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the center shelf of a preheated 350 F degree oven. Roast 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so they do not burn. To check for doneness, remove an almond and taste to see if it is lightly browned inside. Remove nuts and cool to room temperature.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2018