May 5

Orange Blossom Sablés for Mother’s Day

in Dessert, Family, French, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type

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“My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being.  I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.” –Graycie Harmon

Cherry blossoms will always make me think of Japan, but another type of blossom is woven throughout the memories of my childhood.  I grew up in Redlands, California—a beautiful sunny town in Southern California that used to be the heart of the largest navel orange producing region in the world.  Although many of the old citrus groves are being torn down to make way for urban development, when I was little many orange groves still remained.  When the orange blossoms were in bloom the air was filled with their heavy intoxicating scent.  This scent will always remind me of home and my childhood.  But it will also always remind me of my mother.

Mom 'n Ella

This is one of her favorite scents.  Despite her seasonal allergies, she was known to open up the windows and take deep breaths, inhaling the scent of the blossoms. My mother is one of my heroes and with Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to make something in her honor.  Usually when I think of making something for my mom, I go straight for a dessert laden with rich dark chocolate.  But this year my mind turned to the orange blossoms of my youth, and I made some delicate orange blossom sable cookies.

Orange Blossom Sables for Mother's Day

Sablés, a popular French confection, are tender buttery shortbread cookies.  They are delicious eaten with a bowl of ice cream or simply with a glass of cold milk.  These sablés are delicate like their namesake blossoms, and lightly perfumed with orange blossom water and orange zest.  These cookies are flexible because the dough can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Orange Blossom Water

The cookies are simple to make.  You mix up the soft sticky dough, and then form it into logs, which you then wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill.

Form the cookie dough into logs and wrap them in plastic wrap

Then you slice them into 1/2-inch slices,

Slice the dough logs into half-inch slices

place them on lined baking sheets,

Cookie dough cut into slices and placed on parchment paper lined cookie sheets

and bake them until they are lightly golden brown on the edges and pale on top.

Orange Blossoms cooling

So for you, my dear sweat beautiful mother, I give you a bowl full of blossoms that won’t make you sneeze. I love you!

Delicate Orange Blossom Sables

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Orange Blossom Sablés

Makes about 36 cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces, 1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons orange blossom water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4  cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and orange blossom water together at medium speed until it is smooth and creamy.  Add the sugars and the salt and beat until everything is well blended, about 1 minute.  Reduce the speed to low and add in the egg yolks and orange zest, beating until the mixture is again well blended.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and almond meal.  Add this mixture to the mixture in the mixer with the mixer turned off.  Drape a kitchen towel over the mixer to prevent flour from flying all over, and pulse the mixer at low speed 5 times for about 2 seconds each time.  If there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times.  On low speed, mix the dough for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour is incorporated. Don’t worry if the dough looks a bit crumbly—working the dough as little as possible once the flour is added will yield the best texture.

3. Using a rubber spatula, transfer half of the soft, sticky dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a log.  Don’t worry if the log isn’t perfect!  Wrap the log well in plastic wrap and then repeat with the other half of the dough.  Refrigerate the logs for at least 3 hours, preferably longer.  (The dough can be kep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

4. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Remove one log from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and slice it into 1/2-inch-thick cookies.  Place the rounds on one of the baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between them.  Bake the cookies for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half way through.  When done, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden brown around the edges, and pale on top.  Remove them from the oven and let the cookies rest for a couple of minutes before carefully lifting them onto a rack with a wide metal spatula to cool to room temperature. (You can also just carefully slide the parchment paper with the cookies on it onto the rack if the rack is wide enough.)  The cookies will finish setting as they cool, so do not worry if the tops still feel a bit tender when you remove them from the oven.  Repeat with the second log of dough and the remaining lined baking sheet.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

MAC May 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I adore any cookie that can be considered an Ice Box cookie! I’ll be adding this recipe to my list for Christmas (and other times). Sounds delightful. Perfect for a Mother’s Day treat, or a tea, or shower, really any time. Thanks for sharing. :-)


Maria May 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Beautiful post from start to finish!


Paula - bell'alimento May 5, 2010 at 4:02 pm

I’m pretty sure fuji nana is smiling right now : ) Such a great daughter you are! Beautiful beautiful beautiful post!


Fuji Nana May 5, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I AM smiling–and sniffling, but not from allergies. Thank you, sweet daughter. You made my day. Now, when are you making a delivery???


Fuji Mama May 6, 2010 at 9:51 am

@Fuji Nana, Soon, very soon! :) XOXOXO


Missy J May 5, 2010 at 7:05 pm

These look uber yummy! Where would one BUY orange blossom water?


Fuji Mama May 6, 2010 at 9:50 am

@Missy J, Any Middle Eastern/Halal market should carry it! If you don’t have one near you, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. It won’t be the same flavor, but it will still be delicious!


the lacquer spoon May 5, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Looks very elegant and tasty piece of work! I’ve never tried orange water, but interesting. Well worth a try and happy Mum’s Day :)


MaryMoh May 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm

A lovely post and lovely pictures! The cookies look very delicious and perfect for Mother’s Day. I would be very happy to have some with a cup of tea :)


Jayne May 6, 2010 at 12:29 am

“So for you, my dear sweat beautiful mother, I give you a bowl full of blossoms that won’t make you sneeze.”

That made me laugh and made my day! :-) LOL. So sweet. It’s remarkable how much you look like your mom! Happy Mother’s Day to you too.


notyet100 May 6, 2010 at 2:09 am

this looks so delicious,..


Jenny Flake May 6, 2010 at 9:40 am

Beautiful Rachael!! I want some!


Tracy May 6, 2010 at 10:14 am

Gorgeous cookies!!


Juls @Juls' Kitchen May 6, 2010 at 11:21 am

So lovely and delicate! It is impressive how smells remind us of sweet memories and people… it is the same for me! Those cookies are amazingly beautiful and simple! Hugs


LilSis May 6, 2010 at 11:28 am

I love how scents bring back childhood memories. Every time I smell honeysuckle or petunias or snapdragons, I’m always taken back to my grandmothers garden.

These cookies are beautiful and so is your mother. I love your photos.

BTW, I have a close friend who has both her sons in college in Redlands.


Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker} May 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm

These are gorgeous cookies and I’m sure they taste fantastic! Beautiful post about your mom!


jenjenk May 6, 2010 at 12:58 pm

oh these look so fantastic. I want.



marla {family fresh cooking} May 6, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Happy Mother’s Day to you and your mom. What a lovely celebration cookie :) xo


Maggy May 6, 2010 at 5:47 pm

These are absolutely beautiful. And I’m sure, delicious too!


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 6, 2010 at 7:48 pm

These cookies look lovely. Your pictures are stunning, too!


Danielle May 7, 2010 at 9:57 am

I love orange blossom water, they add an instant depth to any cream, sauce or pudding that’s so addictive! What’s even better is the curious raised eyebrow that I get whenever someone tries to put a finger on the flavor – makes for a fun guessing game ;) Thanks for sharing this recipe, I’ve got to try it soon!


Cookin' Canuck May 7, 2010 at 11:03 am

What a lovely tribute to your mum! I’m sure that someday Squirrel will be writing just as heartful things about you.


Elizabeth E. May 7, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I love your mom, too. (Maybe she’ll snitch an extra cookie to pass along to me on Monday, when we’re going to have sushi therapy together.) Great blog–I enjoyed reading about the sables as well the tribute to Fuji Nana.


Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 7, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Rachael you are just too sweet for words. Your mum is lucky to have you as a daughter.


amy May 7, 2010 at 10:13 pm

i just made these for the first time and they taste fantastic!! i am taking them to my mom and mother-in-law on mother’s day :o) thanks for sharing the recipe, fuji mama!


Heavenly Housewife May 7, 2010 at 11:54 pm

What a wonderful mother you have!
Lovely recipe. I love the delicate flavour of orange flower water. I’m going to bookmark this one for myself.
Have a wonderful mother’s day weekend.
*kisses* HH


Lauri May 11, 2010 at 9:29 am

These look so beautiful and sound so romantic. I’ve never seen orange blossom water before (well, never thought about even looking for it, actually, :)). Is it available in the grocery store or do I need to purchase it at a specialty store?


Fuji Mama (Rachael) May 11, 2010 at 10:56 am

@Lauri, Thank you! You can find orange blossom water at stores that carry Middle Eastern products or online. If you can’t find any, you can always substitute 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. It won’t taste quite the same, but it will still be delicious!!


Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen May 11, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Wow…I’ve actually never heard of orange blossom water but it looks lovely. I love putting rosewater in all sorts of things like cookies and pancakes so I imagine I’d do the same with the orange blossom. Super pretty post for Mother’s Day!


Kitty M May 12, 2010 at 9:49 am

Did you realize that you have combined all the sweetest flavors of North Africa in your pastries? Orange Blossom Water (mah’ za’har) is a common flavoring in Morocco, where I was born. Indeed, my favorite fragrant waters. I like it so much I named one of my cookbooks after it: The Scent of Orange Blossoms: Sephardic Cuisine from Morocco. I love the cross-cultural aspects of your recipe.

To answer the person above: You can find orange blossom water in Middle Eastern markets and many large supermarkets (Cortas brand is a good one)

Bismillah, Kitty Morse, author
Cooking at the Kasbah: Recipes from my Moroccan Kitchen
(PS: Have you tried it sprinkled on steamed couscous?)


Fuji Mama (Rachael) May 12, 2010 at 7:04 pm

@Kitty M, Thank you for your comment! I was introduced to Orange Blossom Water by my host “mom” when I lived in Paris. She was half Moroccan, and she made wonderful dishes with it. The thought of sprinkling it on steamed couscous has me so hungry! YUM! I’m going to have to check out your cookbooks! I would love to learn to make more Moroccan dishes.


Jen @ How To: Simplify May 13, 2010 at 8:59 am

These Orange Blossom Sables are beautiful! I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day!


Elizabeth E. May 14, 2010 at 6:49 am

Okay, I just bought the orange blossom water at Ralph’s yesterday and I’m ready to go with this one. Thanks for bringing me new ideas for my kitchen adventures!


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