Algerian Sablés

December 4: National Cookie Day

We reunited with our friend Sido B. from university when we spent Highlander’s birthday in Paris, France, many years ago. Sido had just married Raida and they invited us to their little apartment for a simple dinner. They served coffee, tea, water and wine along with salad and a tray of Parisian pastries and Algerian appetizers (very fitting as they are French-Algerians). Seventeen years later, we reunited again when we visited them in Dubai, UAE. This time, they had twin teen girls and a bigger house…but still the same generous hospitality of feeding us!

The fancy jam sandwich cookies that they served were sablés, meaning “sand”, which we saw everywhere in Dubai and they said reminded them of the Sahara Desert (لصحراء الجزائرية‎) that dominates the landscape of the country of their birth (they both grew up in Paris and Nice).

These pretty cookies do have a sandy dough but come together and bake into a beautiful butter biscuit. The jam not only holds the pair of cookies together but complements the taste. A sprinkling of powdered sugar looks like snow and makes them festive for the holidays.

Make an impression on National Cookie Day and bake/serve/exchange Algerian sablés!


(Adapted from


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar, granulated white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ½ cups flour, all purpose
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Apricot or strawberry jam (or other favorite preserve), warmed and stirred until smooth
  • Powdered sugar for dusting


In a large bowl, cream together the butter with sugar. Add the vanilla. Beat in the egg. In another bowl, combine the flour with baking powder.

Gradually add the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Mix well until a sandy dough comes together. Form a ball and divide in half. Flatten the ball slightly and place between two sheets of wax paper.

Roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Repeat for the other ball. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm up the dough. Use a cookie cutter to cut out an even number of tops and bottoms.

For the tops, use a round cookie cutter to cut out the middles. Re-roll the middles and scraps and continue cutting out shapes. Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest on the cookie sheet for about a minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Use a mesh sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar all over the tops of the cookies. Set aside.

Assemble the cookies by spreading jam on the bottom of a cookie and carefully pressing the top of the cookie onto the jam, aligning any grooves. Let set and do not stack the cookies.


  • Heat up the jam slightly or stir vigorously to make it spreadable on the cookie.

  • Search our blog for other cookie recipes to make for holiday exchanges and gifts.