My friend Corinna once confessed to me that when her child was a mere toddler, she developed the habit of calling all crackers “ccokies.” It’s not like her toddler knew the difference between a cookie and a cracker at that point, having never been served a cookie at that point in his life, so I, of course, thought her plan was pure, platinum genius.
When you really think about what makes a cookie a cookie, I suppose there is not a lot, besides sugar, that really separates a cookie from a cracker. There is a similar correlation, I feel, between what makes a muffin a muffin and not a tiny little cake (because, really, in most cases there is very little that separates a muffin from a cake, save for serving size and variations in toppings and/or frosting). Both crackers and cookies begin with some sort of flour, followed by some sort of fat to provide texture and flavor. After those two building blocks come flavorings and leavening agents, both of which will then veer you off in the direction of either cookie or cracker.
But what happens when you start thinking of how to join the two elements? Is it possible to make a cookie that is more like a cracker, or a cracker that is suspiciously like a cookie? Perhaps more importantly, why would someone want to accomplish such a thing?
The answer to all those questions, I give you this:
Melt-in-your-mouth sables that have the delicate, shattering texture of a cookie, but are speckled with fine bits of walnuts and a sprinkling of savory spices. This is why you merge a cookie and a cracker. Because there is nothing finer to nibble while having a glass of wine at the end of the day. Because sometimes when you want a bit of a snack, you don’t really want any sugar to go along with it. Because these, my friends, may be the most delicious experiment I have ever dreamed up on a whim, and I think you’d be missing out terribly if you didn’t try them out for yourself.
Savory Olive Oil and Walnut Sables
¼ cup walnut pieces
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 egg yolk
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
Optional toppings: caraway seeds, truffle salt, poppy seeds
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse walnut pieces 5 or 6 times until they are ground medium-fine, with a few small chunks of walnut remaining. Add flour and salt to walnuts and pulse to combine. Add the egg yolk and pulse 2 or 3 more times to combine.
With the food processor running, pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, allowing the mixture to become uniformly combined. With the food processor still running, drizzle in the water, then allow the dough to just start to clump together.
Shape the dough into a disc, then wrap in plastic and allow to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Turn the rested dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Roll out the dough until it is very thin, somewhere between ¼” and 1/8”. The dough will be a bit crumbly, so roll with care. Using a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter or cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Reshape and reroll the dough as needed. Using a fork or the tip of a small, sharp knife, poke several holes on top of each cracker. If adding toppings, sprinkle each cracker with just a pinch of whatever toppings you choose.
Bake the crackers on the center rack of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are golden and the tops just beginning to develop color. Cool on the sheet pan for 1 minute, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Crackers will be extremely delicate when hot, so transfer them with care.
Makes roughly 2 dozen sables.