Happy May, dear friends! After a few jam-packed weeks, I am elated and eager to slip back into my sleuthing boots for another foodie expedition. This time, we’re saying bonjour to a treat that hails from France. In a trip to the shops, a box of chocolatey-looking cookies caught my eye while I was at the cookie aisle. I hereby introduce the newest addition to my snack stash: French chocolate butter cookies!
When foodies think of French dairy produce, fabulously-curated cheese boards tend to spring into mind first. While the French excel in their fabulous fromage, and they are also one of the best in beurre. To them, butter isn’t necessarily the sidekick in a recipe or meal… it can be the hero.
In the world of French-style butter cookies, most roads lead to Brittany in North-Western France, as it’s the birthplace of the famed Sablé Breton. St Michel, the cookie company, was founded in 1905 in a charming place called ‘Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef’ (yes, this place does exist!) Although Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef is located in Brittany’s neighboring Pays de la Loire region, it seems to me that the cookie brand specializes in cookies that are inspired by Sablé Breton, with its own twists. This means that their Chocolate Galette is a take on the Sablé Breton cookies. To further understand the appreciation of French butter, I took a short excursion to the butter realm.
For The Love Of Butter
In France’s artisanal butter realm, butter isn’t an ordinary spread on a slice of toast for a mundane quick-fix breakfast: it is an exquisite produce that is crafted with passion. From fresh butters at local markets, to butters that are re-imagined with ingredients like seaweed, raspberry, and vanilla at the famous La Maison du Beurre, butter is appreciated in multiple ways.
Butter from Brittany is known for its great quality, which is credited to fresh cow’s milk and a touch of salt that enhances butter’s flavor notes. Butter is embedded in the region’s culinary heritage, especially through various buttery bakes like the Sablé Breton. Brittany’s butter has revolutionized the sweet tooth world through a flavorful invention that is enjoyed around the globe: salted caramel! A chocolatier, Henri Le Roux, created the world’s first salted caramel in the 70’s (also known as ‘salted butter caramel’) for his confections by using salted butter, which is his hometown’s iconic produce.
Back to The Cookies
Being a self-professed chocoholic, I gravitated towards the row of chocolate butter cookies. Three packets sit inside the rectangular box, with a stack of three cookies in each packet. Along with butter (specified as 19%), cocoa powder is included in the batter. Furthermore, each cookie is dotted with mini chocolate chips for an added chocolatey measure. Other primary ingredients are flour, sugar and free range eggs (fun fact: egg yolks, in particular, are essential in French butter cookie recipes).
Looking through my metaphoric magnifying glass, I realized that a clue to the cookie’s texture is in its name. In Sablé Breton, ‘sablé’ means ‘sandy’, which is a nod to its shortbread-like texture. St Michel’s chocolate butter cookies, on the other hand, are ‘galettes’ – a name that is given to flaky pastries and extends to some bakes that are flat and circular in shape. I was very intrigued with their galette’s texture and whether it corresponds to a sablé in some form.
The disc-shaped cookies are reasonably grand (large) in diameter, and they fit comfortably into my palm. Appearance-wise, these cookies tick the galette criteria. They even look like the image on the box, which is a great start to the cookie experience.
As soon as I opened the plastic package, a heavenly aroma filled the atmosphere. Taking in a gentle sniff, my nose detected a familiar scent that I adore: hot cocoa! That raised my excitement further. Since it has been surprisingly rainy here on the island, I can’t imagine a more perfect time to sink my teeth into anything that resembles good old hot cocoa! With that, it is time to taste.
The cookies’ aroma is certainly a fitting representation of the flavor department, from the first bite to the last. The chocolate components instantly remind me of classic hot cocoa mixes in tin boxes. The chocolate is neither too sweet nor too bitter, which allows the core tastes (chocolate and butter) to shine. The butter’s co-headlining role, which isn’t salty to my palate, is wonderfully present. It does have a twinkle of traditional butter cookie’s signature flavor profile, but it interestingly has the soul of milk that is added to rich hot cocoa powder. Though a seemingly simple combination in a cookie, these chocolate butter galettes deliver a harmonious blend of butter and chocolate notes that tastes absolutely delightful.
The texture is indeed more so a galette than a sablé, as it is a little on the ‘flaky’ side. To be a tad more precise, it is somewhere between flaky and crumbly, which is quite unique for the butter cookie realm. The cookies’ thickness is perfect, and the flaky-crumbly texture is balanced. Being a ‘biscuit’ with a crunch instead of a soft cookie, these galettes are fabulous with a cup of tea on the side. I reckon anyone who is a ‘biscuit dipper’ when it comes to their teas would love it too.
If you’re dreaming of adding a French touch to teatime, this is a great cookie to munch on.