Some time ago, I went a little overboard in a gourmet food shop, buying up all sorts of little French and Italian goodies – the kind of things that tend to linger on a shelf waiting for the “right” time to use them. More often than not, they go bad before the “right” time comes. I bought a tiny little tube with tomato shortbread batons from France. Only after I left the store did I realize I’d paid close to $15 for them, and when I did actually open them, there were maybe 6 little tomato sticks. But I loved the idea and realized I could easily replicate the idea for a fraction of the cost. And here we are. I love these as a vibrantly colored bite during the holidays, and they are easy to arrange in a wreath shape for some extra fun. They are marvelous with a glass of bubbles and an interesting addition to a cheese or charcuterie board.
Sablé is just a lovey French word for shortbread that adds a nice touch of sophistication to an otherwise simple recipe. These little bright red-orange coins have the look and texture of a cheese straw, but I like that they are cheese free for parties when there may be lots of cheese elsewhere. They are also very tasty with a smear of creamy cheese, like goat or ripe camembert. Look for double concentrate tomato paste, which usually comes in a tube, for extra tomatoey flavor, but the canned variety will work as well. Use a quality higher fat butter (like Kerrygold or Plugra) to make these rich and buttery. I love the woody, seasonal hit of rosemary, but oregano would make them very Italian, or leave the herbs out altogether. The bit of sugar doesn’t make these sweet but it balances any bitterness from the tomato paste. Celery salt adds a little mystery and paprika boosts the flavor. I roll these into logs for slicing, which is altogether easier than attempting to make batons, but if you are so inclined, you can put the chilled dough through a cookie press to create any number of shapes. You can shape the rolls to make any size from small quarter-sized bites to larger cookie style.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ cup tomato paste
1 cup (2 sticks) salted European butter, cold
- Pulse the flour, sugar, rosemary, salt, paprika and celery salt in the bowl of a food processor to combine, then add the tomato paste and pulse to combine and the mixture looks like damp sand. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the processor. Process until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.
- Cut two lengths of waxed paper, divide the dough into two portions and place each portion on one waxed paper length. Form each onto a log about 1 ½ inch in diameter and roll tightly, pressing in to form a nice solid log. Twist the ends like a candy wrapper. Refrigerate the logs for at least an hour before baking, but you can refrigerate them for two days or freeze them for 3 months.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the rolls from the fridge and slice into medium-thick wafers, about 1/4 inch each. Place them on the baking sheet with a little room to spread and bake until golden around the edged and firm on the top, about 12 – 15 minutes. Cool on the pans for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool.