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hold your horses

Recipe: whole wheat cacao nib sablés

The weather in Crested Butte put on a good show earlier this week, or so I thought. It wasn’t just Crested Butte, because when we got home there were the same dramatic and unstable atmospheric conditions dumping rain and hail in the mountains. It brought a nice cool down and it meant good things for mushrooms in the high country. Even before my return, Wendy and I had already agreed to go foraging the next morning. I dare say it’s nice to have like-minded friends who don’t balk at having to wake up at 5 am to crawl around in the woods and dirt looking for mushrooms. We like hiking in early because we both despise the heat and sun, but I also had a dinner date to make at my parents’ place to celebrate Mom’s birthday.

mammata over mount crested butte

impressive dance of light and clouds on paradise divide

back home: porcini, bitches

fairy fingers

mom was born in the year of the snake – it’s her year!

I try to keep a lid on my commitments so I’m not overextended. It’s tough to control though, especially in summer as social gatherings seem to kick into high gear. When I am overextended, I feel like life becomes frenetic and my fear is that something important will be overlooked. As I rushed around the house after foraging, I noticed that Kaweah hadn’t gotten out of her bed for 30 minutes. I went over and gently tried coaxing her out so I could let her into the yard to potty, but she wouldn’t move. She was awake (these days I always check to see that she is indeed alive – I know that’s morbid, but I try to be realistic here), but she wasn’t moving. Eventually I lifted her up and saw that she was in pain. Most likely she had lost her footing on the hardwood floors when no one was home and took a spill. A call to the vet’s office and I had some muscle relaxers and pain killers for her and an appointment the next morning. I didn’t want to leave her alone, but I also had an obligation to my parents.

Kaweah was much improved after taking her medications. Jeremy and I rushed home after dinner to find her sleeping soundly in her bed. We gently reached out to pet her so as not to startle her (she can’t hear much anymore) and she opened her eyes, wagged her tail, and rolled over to get a belly rub. She is on the mend now. All of those plans I had for the next few days have been cancelled or cut back so I can watch over the pup and make sure she gets the time and attention needed. Life has a way of telling you to slow down when you’re going too fast. I need to be more mindful of that.

this is kaweah when she’s sad

A pleasant and cool morning for baking presented itself, so that’s what I did while keeping an eye on Kaweah. I had a recent client shoot that involved cacao nibs, which jogged my memory of a cookie made with cacao nibs. My friend had raved about them, then I saw the recipe on Orangette three years ago. It was time to finally make these whole wheat sablés with cacao nibs. I sometimes wonder how many things I will never have gotten around to doing before I go. Then I think to myself that I’d rather have a growing list of things I want to do than no list for lack of interest in life.

organic cacao nibs (from whole foods)

all you need: salt, vanilla extract, cacao nibs, sugar, flour, butter

The flour is whole wheat pastry flour. If you can’t find that, you can combine a cup of all-purpose flour with a scant cup of whole wheat flour as a substitution for two cups of the pastry flour. The original recipe comes from Alice Medrich, who is a goddess of all things chocolate and amazing. What I like about cacao nibs is that they aren’t overly sweet and have a more complex flavor and texture to them than regular chocolate. It’s like a cross between chocolate and an espresso bean, but earthier in flavor than espresso beans and more tannic than chocolate.

beat the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla together

add the cacao nibs

mix in the flour

don’t overbeat the flour – it should be just combined

These are easy to make as long as you are patient enough to let the dough chill for a couple of hours. Alternatively, this a great dough to prepare ahead and toss into the freezer for when you need a last minute cookie. Just slice it up and bake until golden.

form the dough into a 12- x 2-inch log

chill the dough and then slice

set on parchment


Sable is French for “sand” and sablés have a coarse grain, crumbly texture – grainier than a shortbread. These are not in any way chewy cookies. I think chewy cookies are the bee’s knees, but I must say that there is a satisfying bite and crunch to this one (the cacao nibs lend to the crunch factor). Something you want to nibble on as you savor the complexity of the flavors with the satisfying delicate texture. Addictive, really.

like an elegant, sophisticated adult version of a chocolate chip cookie

Whole Wheat Cacao Nib Sablés
[print recipe]
from Orangette

2 cups (9 oz.) whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup (4.5 oz.) all-purpose flour plus 1 scant cup (4 oz.) whole wheat flour
14 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3.5 oz.) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (1 1/4 oz.) cacao nibs

Beat the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract together in a mixing bowl until smooth, but not fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the cacao nibs and beat until combined. Add the flour and mix until just incorporated (don’t overbeat). You can gently knead any excess flour into the dough. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form the dough into a 12-x2-inch log. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the plastic wrap and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Place the slices 1 1/2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until light golden at the edges. I baked mine in the center of the oven, but the original recipe calls for placing one sheet on a rack at the top third of the oven and the other on the rack at the bottom third, then swapping them and turning them 180° at the halfway mark for baking. Let cool for 1 minute on the baking sheets before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely. Flavor improves after a day. Store for up to 1 month in an airtight container. Makes 40 cookies.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

espresso chocolate chip shortbread macadamia shortbread cookies pistachio rose shortbread cookies matcha green tea shortbread cookies

16 nibbles at “hold your horses”

  1. Kristin says:

    So glad Kaweah is on the mend. A year ago, we were doing the same, ‘Is she just sleeping?” watch on one of our cats. It’s not morbid, it’s necessary. I agree with your philosophy…and somedays, having that list of things I want to do is what keeps me moving! The cookies look great. Just need to find some cocoa nibs.

  2. Abbe@This is How I Cook says:

    These cookies look great. I love cookies like this. When our dog was having a tough time with the wood floors we went to the carpet store and bought a bunch of carpet samples and taped them down with carpet tape. It worked well and made it much easier for her to get around. Not attractive mind you, but helpful!

  3. Kathya says:

    Aww, happy belated to your mom! Also, please give Kaweah a kiss from me. XO

  4. Susanne says:

    Awww, Kaweah. I love your doggie. I think you’re so lucky to have each other. Best wishes to you both.

  5. georgia carman says:

    I love your recipes! I still have a disability, and my entire hand hurts for days after writing with a pen. I am still unable to get a recipe from your site to print. I have had my pc overhauled, plus have the best printer anyone could have, when I key in on the “print recipe”, nothing happens. Nothing happens on any recipe unless I am on another site; then my printer does it’s job.

    I did not go to your site for over a year, because I wanted to print the recipes, and thought you sent in depth instructions how to print them, my printer would not respond.

    My son can get my printer to copy something on your site, I think. He is not willing to spend the time to do this, and he leaves some instructions out, accidently. I have written the steps to print, using highlighting and copy, print, and one other set of commands to print, and still cannot print your recipes.

    You have the most beautiful photos I have seen anywhere. I love the beautiful unique clouds on your pictures today. They are just unbelievable. I would love to have a print of one certain photo on todays newsletter, too, but I can’t get a printed copy. I guess I will have to forget printers and copying again. I cannot continue with my joints hurting and freezing up, to write recipes. This is a bad month for my fingers and wrists.

    You are so brave in dealing with your dog. That is a beautiful Kaweah. I like female dogs especially well. I love black labs! I have a little pain when I think of her hurting. It is so difficult to cope with my own pets and their conditions, and I used to walk 12 times daily, about 2 miles at 6 am and 6 pm, with a next door neighbor/s black lab. I felt so alone when she got too old to walk that far, knowing that she would enjoy walking with me, around the beach area, but that she was not able. Their eyes seem to tell you everything. Bless your heart that you are so good to your Kaweah. I will not be able to continue reading your news anyway, if she becomes more disabled. You are an artist and lovely person in your heart and soul, all the way. Fond memories, georgia carman

  6. georgia carman says:

    That first photo looks as if someone painted upside down hearts of the clouds, and the fairy fingers are something so unique; I would never have seen them if you had not added that picture to your emails. I also thank you for sharing your family and home with us. Your recipes and ingredients tell stories of their own; they are so lovely to see. You work very hard to get these beautiful pleasing informative photos of the steps in your recipes. What a lovely way to work! Thank you for sharing so much of our outstanding world and your own. georgia carman

  7. robin says:

    Jen, thank you for that amazing photo of the divide! Wow!

    When our dog got to where your dog is we put yoga mats in a path through the house over the hardwood. Super ugly but very helpful for her.

    Interesting recipe, too!

  8. Jill Hyde says:

    I love the idea of yoga mats! Going to share that with my sister. She’s in the same situation with her Dozer (choc lab). Thank goodness for medications to help with the pain. You are the best dog parents. Enjoy your time with Kaweah. Regarding food and photos: love the uniformity of your photos, the precise ness of each documentation. Just beautiful.

  9. Leslie says:

    There is a special spot in the universe for those that care for elder animals with the tenderness and attention that we normally reserve for newborns. They give us their everything and respecting them in their golden years is the least and the most that we can do to say thank you for giving us all of the other days.

  10. Pey-Lih says:

    Thank you…this would make great birthday cookies!

  11. Choclette says:

    Cocoa nibs work brilliantly in cookies I’ve found. I remember pistachio and cocoa nib shortbread as being particularly good. that scenery is absolutely stunning

  12. farmerpam says:

    Wowza, cookies look awesome. Glad to hear the pup is on the mend, even though it’s a “sad” picture of her, she looks content and happy to know she’ll be taken care of. I can so relate to having a long list of things to do in life, I was just joking today about….”big plans, big plans!”, with an old friend. I’ve always believed that if you aim for nothing, you’ll hit it every time. Forage on…..stranger friend.

  13. Jen says:

    That picture of Kaweah brought a tear to my eye and a smile to my lips. What a cute pup! So glad the meds are making her feel better.

  14. laurasmess says:

    Kaweah is such a beautiful, gentle creature. It hurts to see her sad, I know that life is hard for her these days, but she’s lucky to be in such a loving household. Feeling for you Jen, hoping that Kaweah will continue to find peace and relief through meds, rest, whatever she needs. Sending you a hug beautiful (I also use cooking for therapy, on a regular basis. Busy, productive hands can do so much for an overloaded mind! I love the look of these wonderful cookies) xx

  15. jenyu says:

    Kristin – yes, the list really motivates :) As for nibs – if you can’t find them in a health food store or whole foods, then you can try ordering them online.

    Abbe – ha, that sounds like our house, but we have those foam bath mats everywhere which probably looks even more odd (but comfy!).

    Kathya – thanks, friend :) xxoo

    Susanne – thank you.

    georgia – I’ve sent you an email with more detailed instructions. Hopefully you can find someone over there to aid you if you still have troubles.

    robin – thanks, we do that with the foam memory bath mats :)

    Jill – poor Dozer. I know it’s hard and requires a lot of attention. I hope your sister can afford the time for her pup. xo

    Leslie – awww, so true! xo

    Pey-Lih – :)

    Choclette – mmm, that sounds lovely.

    farmerpam – what a great saying! I’ll have to remember that!

    Jen – thank you!

    laurasmess – thanks, you’re incredibly sweet xo

  16. Whole Wheat Cocoa Nib Sablés | Chef v. Pin says:

    […] a blind eye to the 14 tablespoons of butter that goes in them. I found this interesting recipe from Use Real Butter. And can I jus say what an awesome title for a blog. With that, always use real butter instead of […]

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