Aug 10, 2010

France + Butter = One Delicious Cookie (French Butter Cookie)

Butter and France go together like a cuppa hot masala chai on a white winter night. Ahh, butter! What's better than butter? Butter, flour, sugar, and eggs mixed together into a fattening and buttery treat!

What is the treat that I'm talking about? Well, they're called punitions. They are basically a French butter or sugar cookie that Lionel Poilâne is so famous for. (You can read my old post about Lionel) Going into his old Parisian shop you'll see a basket full of them for customers and window-shoppers alike.

The story behind punitions is so fun. Lionel's grandmother would hide a stash of punitions in her hands and would call Lionel as if he was in trouble. She would smile and give him a cookie. Punition in French means punishment. Lionel also once said that it is a punishment in itself to wait for them to cool. I just cheat and eat one hot. ;o)

These cookies are absolutely amazing, especially for being made of only butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. If you've tasted one you might have mixed feelings on how hard it is to make some, but they are simple and easy to make. And without a leavening agent you might think they become hard and stale, but they don't. They're too laden with butter to become hard!

Here is the recipe for punitions, and you will be shocked on how tasty and easy they really are.

Les Punitions
makes around 50 round cookies

1 1/4 sticks [140 g] quality unsalted butter, at RT (room temp)
 1/2  cup [120 g] sugar 
1 egg, at RT 
2 cups [280 g] all-purpose flour

You can use this method or the volcano method to make the dough

Cream RT butter and sugar together in a bowl with a pastry blender. Add in the egg and blend. Add in flour and blend/knead until smooth. Let it chill for 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 °F (180 °C).

Flour surface and pull out chilled dough. Break the dough in half. Working with one, roll out dough (you might let it sit for a while or knead it to soften) to 1/8 or 1/4 inch thick. Cut out into rounds (size is up to you!). I used an old wooden biscuit cutter. Put cookies on parchment paper lined cookie sheet(s). Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. Don't worry, they should look pale! Let cool and store. While the cookies are baking, repeat with the other half of dough or freeze it. They have enough fat that they would last a week or so.

Yes, butter! The world would be dreadfully bland and incredibly skinny without it. 

In the words of an old Dutch proverb, "Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past."

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