French Butter Cookies, know as “Sables Breton” in France, get their flavor from vanilla and salted - yes, salted - butter. So, it’s important to use the highest quality butter and good vanilla in this recipe. It’s traditional to score the tops of these cookies with a cross-hatch pattern, but I like them plain. You choose how to top yours!
Don’t skip the chilling process or egg-washing the tops, and I promise you’ll be rewarded. These treats are simply fabulous. Fabulous defined as: my friends grab them as soon as they see them, because they know they'll be gone in a hot minute!
Choosing the best flour blend:
I use King Arthur Measure for Measure or Pamela’s Gluten-Free Artisan Blend and grain-free baking powder when I make these (and virtually everything else.) Not sponsored - that's what I actually use.) Both blends have a little baking binder, and I find I don't need to add any more for cookies. Since they are butter cookies, I haven't tried a dairy-free version. So I can't tell you if coconut oil will work. (It sounds yummy though. I may try and update you!)
French Butter Cookies need fabulous butter!
Since these cookies rely so heavily on butter for flavor, it's important to use high quality butter. European butter mist have at least 82% butterfat, while U.S. butter is required to have 80%. Pro tip: the difference is made up by water. That 2% may not seem like a lot, but it makes a huge difference in baked goods. That's why European butter is often preferred by bakers. Due to the higher butterfat content (up to 85%) European butter has richer flavor, is softer, melts faster, has less salt, and generally kicks things up a notch. European butter is also cultured, and churned longer to achieve the higher butterfat. It's best to use European butter for French Butter Cookies. If you're buying U.S. butter, look for "European style" or "extra creamy," which should have higher butterfat and less salt.
Butter Cookies: the best gift, ever.
French Butter Cookies are one of my favorite treats to give as a gift. I actually wait until we're headed to a party or event to make them. I love them so much, I'll eat a whole batch myself. Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Gluten-Free French Butter Cookies
- ⅔ cup best-quality European salted butter, room temperature 5.2 ounces | 150g | or look for "extra creamy" U.S. butter - 82-85% milkfat
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs (these will be divided)
- 1 cup sugar 200 g
- 1 ¾ cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend 240 g (or a bit more)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, salt and vanilla; beat on high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Separate the egg yolks from the whites, and place the yolks in a medium sized bowl, reserving the whites for later.
- Whisk the egg yolks by hand with the sugar until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the egg mixture to the butter and beat on low to combine. Sift the flour and baking powder together, then add to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed until flour is incorporated. Do not overmix.
- (If the dough is SUPER tacky/sticky or really soft, like it won't form a log or hold shape when wrapped in plastic wrap, add a little more flour. About 2 tablespoon at a time)
- Roll dough into three 1 ½-inch (about 4 cm) diameter logs. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175C) with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Slice the dough into ¼-inch (0.6 cm) rounds. Place cookies on baking sheet about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg whites, and bake for 8-10 minutes. Continue with the rest of the dough. Allow baked cookies to cool on a wire rack, and enjoy.
photos by my friend Katie Roletto
These chewy Cornflake Cookies are loaded with coconut, nuts and gluten-free cornflakes. They look like no big deal - until you bite into them. Dare you to eat just one!
Frequently Asked Questions about French Butter Cookies:
King Arthur Measure for Measure or Pamela’s Gluten-Free Artisan Blend and grain-free baking powder are the best options for baking gluten-free butter cookies, as both have a little baking binder and perform like conventional flour.
The main difference between butter cookies and shortbread cookies are the amount of sugar in the dough, the method for preparing the dough, and the length of bake time. A butter cookie has a slightly softer, creamier texture, while shortbread is a bit crumblier.
The main difference between European and U.S. butter is butterfat content: European butter is cultured and must have 82% butterfat (often higher, up to 85%). U.S. butter is required to have 80% butterfat. The balance of the butter in both cases is made up mostly of water. That makes European butter softer, it melts faster, and it has richer flavor even though it generally contains a little less salt.
There are cultured butters made with higher butterfat in the U.S. Look for "extra creamy'" "cultured" and "European style" on labels to find them.