i’ve written a letter to daddy — espresso sables

by hungryrabbit on June 17, 2011

Espresso Sables

Dear Dad:

Though I have you in my heart, I miss you. My favorite moments were the half-hour we’d spend daily before our family dinner at 7:30 every evening. Like clockwork, I’d come into the family room and find you sitting in the Dad’s chair. I’d yell out a cheery hello and just as I plopped down on the sofa next to you, the evening news would come on. I knew you were trying to watch the news but never did you fail to ask about my day and discuss whatever I had on my mind. After telling you about my pre-teen escapades, which usually weren’t all that exciting, we’d sit quietly and watch the news reports. The stories, though, really didn’t hold much interest for me back then. All I cared about was our one-on-one time before my jokester brother would barge in exactly at dinner time.

Since you were the only person who drank coffee in the family, I think of you when I have mine … daily. Back then, I always loved the smell and the gurgling sound of coffee in the percolator, thinking one day I’d enjoy this adult beverage as well. What you didn’t know (or maybe you did and let me get away with it) is that one time I took a few sips of your coffee, even when you told us we shouldn’t. I don’t think the caffeine kept me up at night. Then again, I might have just tired out from chasing my older brother around the house until he didn’t want to play anymore.

The funny thing is, I really didn’t like the taste of coffee then—YUCK! It was bitter and didn’t have the smoothness that the smell suggested. I wondered what I was going to drink to look like an adult. Well Dad, as you knew, I started liking—and needing—coffee in college. My taste buds grew, as well as my height.

Thank you Dad for introducing coffee to my olfactory senses at an early age, but your guidance on culinary experiences paved the way for my foodie passion. Even though you teased me many times for eating baby corn straight out of a can, today I’d argue that one needs to experience a wide spectrum of food before one can discriminate over what’s good or bad. That’s my motto and I’m sticking to it for the rest of my life.

Of course, I couldn’t quite say that to you back then. It was more like my constant, “I’m hungry!”

So, for Father’s Day and our small chit chats where you offered wisdom that is with me to this day, I created a treat inspired by our times together—Espresso Sables.

I miss you.
Ken

Espresso Sables

recipe inspired by Cook’s Illustrated
yield: 36-40 cookies

Ingredients

1 large egg
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (2-3/4 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coffee extract
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7-1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon large egg white , lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons turbinado or sanding sugar

Directions

1. Place egg in small saucepan, cover with 1 inch water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill small bowl with ice water. Using slotted spoon, transfer egg to ice water and let stand 5 minutes. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white; discard white. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl.

2. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with rubber spatula. Turn mixer to low, add vanilla and coffee extracts, mix until incorporated. Stop mixer; add flour and espresso powder, mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, press dough into cohesive mass.

3. Divide dough in half; roll each piece into log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper and twist ends to seal and firmly compact dough into tight cylinder. Chill until firm, about 1 hour.

4. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using chef’s knife, slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, rotating dough with each slice to prevent uneven rounds. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Using pastry brush, gently brush cookies with egg white mixture and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.

5. Bake until centers of cookies are pale golden brown with edges slightly darker than centers, about 14-17 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using thin metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Janis June 17, 2011 at 8:12 am

What a beautiful post. I miss my pop too.

JenniferA June 17, 2011 at 8:12 am

So sweet. You have wonderful memories.

Michelle @ Taste As You Go June 17, 2011 at 8:22 am

You’ve illustrated just how powerful food can be in terms of evoking memories. Beautiful post, Ken.

Lisa (This Little Piggy) June 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

That is really lovely! My grandparents always had a pot of very stewed coffee on….ah the smell takes me back too.
It is funny now I’m really reconnecting with my father as he has become an expert baker in his old age. Food is wonderful!

heather June 17, 2011 at 9:14 am

Ken, the cookies are perfect, but the words… they are much sweeter.
I heart you. That is all.

Brian @ A Thought For Food June 17, 2011 at 11:38 am

A touching post, Ken! And this recipe looks fantastic!

The Cilantropist June 17, 2011 at 11:38 am

Ken this was such a heartfelt post, but so glad you shared your memories of spending quality time with your dad, sounds like you were a lucky kid. :) These cookies are a beautiful way to celebrate your memories!

Lora June 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

Lovely post. Beautiful cookies.

Móna Wise June 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

Ken,
So beautiful…..really.
The cookies are gorgeous too. Nice shot super cameraman……
Móna xx

Barbara | Creative Culinary June 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Love everything about this post Ken. I have a difficult if basically non existent relationship with my father; how I wish I had memories like yours.

Lillian June 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

what a heart-warming tribute to your dad, ken. the cookies are gorgeous!

foodwanderings June 17, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Aww what a great tribute to your dad. So well written. Tranforming your memories into these adorable sables. Loved your second paragraph and chuckled when I read you motto. Love you wabbit! Happy Father’s Day memories my friend!

merry jennifer June 17, 2011 at 3:40 pm

I love this, Ken. Love.

abby dodge June 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Lovely lovely post Ken..
ps.. I’m crazy for your motto.. I too believe people of all ages should step in many many culinary puddles even if some of them are mud puddles!

MikeVFMK June 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

Ken, this is a beautiful post. It’s touching and heartfelt and real. My favourite one you’ve done. And the recipe fits so perfectly with the story. The photographs are beautiful too. I’m sure you’re dad wishes he could share some of these with you over a cup of coffee. And I know he’d be proud of you.

Yvo June 18, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Ken, that’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing your sables with me. I miss my dad too… this is a really hard time of year. <3

Astrid June 18, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Such a lovely post for your father, Ken! Loved going back the memory lane with you and your espresso sables look awfully yummy!
xo Astrid

my spatula June 18, 2011 at 2:06 pm

gorgeous photos and such a lovely, sweet post! wonderful tribute to your father.

Annapet June 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm

What a wonderful post, Ken, and gorgeous photos. I should learn to use my Nikon and give it some justice.

I miss my dad, too. He is in the Philippines right now.

Jean (Lemons and Anchovies) June 18, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Oh, Ken. What a touching post. Those little habits of our parents that we want so much to emulate to be more connected to them, I think we’ve all done something like that haven’t we? Though your cookies look absolutely wonderful I’m not sure they’d eclipse the sweetness of this post you’ve just shared with us. Thank you.

SMITH BITES June 18, 2011 at 7:59 pm

i. love. this. post. the best written f’day post i’ve seen – i miss my dad a lot and think about him often; this makes me miss him all the more. thank you for this Ken . . . just beautiful!

Stella June 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm

Your dad sounds like a phenomenal guy– anyone who can unglue their attention from a television and redirect it toward a child is a saint. The world could stand more fathers like that. And more people drinking percolated coffee! Way better than drip, your dad was indeed a beacon of good taste. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

Maureen June 19, 2011 at 7:31 am

Awww.. sniffle.. now I’m missing my dad. What a wonderful post. I think we all felt an emotional cuddle through your words.

The cookies look very very good! Can’t wait to try them.

SweetsugarBelle June 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

Two smiles Ken, one at the story of your dad and another for these beautiful cookies =)

Meeta June 20, 2011 at 7:46 am

Touching! He would have been proud of you sweetie! And would want to grab a handful of these cookies. Elegant and exceptional flavors!

arthi June 20, 2011 at 8:03 am

Very Very Sweet Post Ken…and those cookies are right up my street!

Margaret June 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

What a lovely and touching post! I love that you gave us a glimpse of your childhood and the loving memory you have for your dad. Thank your for sharing this wonderful letter and the cookies, as always with your baked goods; they were absolutely delicious.

Alan Cooke June 20, 2011 at 12:50 pm

That was a great tribute to your dad. I miss mine greatly as well. We never really realize how wise and helpful they were until they’re no longer there to lean on! I’m sure he would have loved the cookies!!

cathy/ShowFoodChef June 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

That is such a beautiful post and the sables are gorgeous, too. I loved that it was in a letter format, it really brought me into the circle.

Bunkycooks June 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm

What a lovely post dedicated to your dad. Both of my parents are gone, so I know how difficult it is.

serena @bigapplenosh June 21, 2011 at 12:47 am

Beautiful post…

Baker Street June 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

What a lovely post K! I love every little detail. Much love. XOXO

Simon Levenson June 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Such a wonderful and touching post. It reminded me of the best parts of my childhood with my father. Thank you for sharing it with us all.
Simon

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction June 22, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Love this post… What sweet memories! And, love these espresso sables, too. :)

Winnie June 22, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Beautiful post Ken :) ps looks like you are getting the hang of your new camera!

Ethan June 23, 2011 at 3:22 am

I didn’t get to read this on Father’s day, but i’m glad I got to it now.

Jamie June 23, 2011 at 4:06 am

This is so lovely and I have tears in my eyes now that I think of my own dad who I miss terribly. My dad inspired my love for baking (even if my love of coffee was given to me by my mom, whose sweet, creamy iced coffee I would sneak sips of) and I think of him every time I bake a cake. Gorgeous post, Ken, and beautiful photos of these cookies that I must make!

Gail August 2, 2011 at 12:06 am

Having just eaten I don’t know how many of these delightful cookies, I can say with 100% certainty that they are FANTASTIC!

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