Monday, January 15, 2007

Mondays with Maida - Dione Lucas' Sablés

Page 190 in the old book / page 218 in the new book

I've gotten off easy the last couple of weeks - if only all rolled cookie doughs were as easy to handle as this one! Once again the dough is rolled unchilled between sheets of wax paper, chilled briefly and then cut. In spite of the fact that I went with a cutter with a ruffly edge, I was still able to easily release the cut cookies from the cutter.

The cookies themselves were a little disappointing. Pretty as they were, they were rather bland in flavor. They have ground almonds and a little rum in them, but the almonds contribute more to the texture than the taste of the cookie, and the rum is more noticeable to the nose than the tongue. Even the whole almond that tops the cookie could stand to be enhanced flavorwise. For some reason (perhaps to keep the whole cookie uniformly pale in color?) the almond is not toasted beforehand as it was for last week's cookie.

Now let me tell you a little about Dione Lucas. I was not familiar with her name, but I suspect many of you are. She was the first woman to graduate from the Cordon Bleu and the first woman to host a television cooking show (in the late forties). Maida Heatter calls her "one of the greatest cooks of our time" and says that she served these cookies at a memorable dinner party. Julia Child, who many of us might consider to be "the mother of French cooking in America", herself attributed that accomplishment to Dione Lucas. Ms. Lucas wrote several cookbooks, including The Cordon Bleu Cookbook, and ran the Egg Basket restaurant in New York. She died in 1971.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: "The cookie again this week was a somewhat plain, but I enjoyed the taste. I thought it had a slight buttery taste, but maybe what I was tasting was the rum. It was an attractive cookie with a clear glaze on top which I expected to be sweet, but it wasn’t. Rating - 3.5"

Denny: "Dione should drink more rum when she bakes. These were Ok, kind of bland especially when compared with many of the others we've tried. I'd give them a 2.0. They're actually better but the chocolate penalty of -1 drives them down and I actually like shortbread. Rating - 2.0"

Laura: "This is a very nice shortbread type cookie. Very tasty. Love the crunchy almond on top. Yum! Rating - 3.5"

Terri: "These are very tasty with a slight flavor of rum. They were a little bit dry, almost a shortbread consistency. The almond and glaze were delicious. Rating - 3.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.1

Next Week - Cornell Sugar Cookies

Nutrition Facts


Sublime said...

Hi Cathy,

Yummy.. I need to stay away from this blog, I started a new diet today! :)

I found your blog doing the "Next Blog" thing at the top of the page. I am constantly looking for people with strong, diverse view-points of the world to visit my blog. Judging by your blog, you seem to fit into that category.

If you are interested, check my Q&A blog called "The Big Question" at

If you get time, come answer a few questions (I post a new one each day). It's intriguing to see all the answers from the mixing pot of readers that visit.

Take care,

Anonymous said...

I got a chuckle from Denny's review. Despite the mild enthusiasm, they certainly look pretty though!

Zarah Maria said...

Heh! "Dione should drink more rum" - nuff said!;-)

Amy said...

Yes, the drink more rum comment is hysterical. They are pretty though!

Anonymous said...

They are defnitely gorgeous!! Too bad the taste of them isn't quite as impressive.

Cathy said...

Hi Sublime - thanks for stopping by.

Hi Rowena - they are pretty and if there weren't so many other cookies to try I might try to do something to beef up the almond flavor.

Hi Zarah - and I was giving Denny a hard time about his comment!

Hi Amy - we can't let Denny know how funny everyone thinks he is - I'll never hear the end of it!

Hi Alice - thanks! I'll write soon - I am so excited about your news!

Melting Wok said...

Hi there, first time to your blog, siao cha bo *LOL* must be hokkien *grins* Btw, I'm from Malaysia too :)
Your cookies looked great, remind me of my mom's egg cookies, lau nuar, cheers ! :)

Anonymous said...

Just a quick question! If I were to bake these, would you suggest adding a drop or two of vanilla to the mix and toasting the almonds to add a bit of flavor?

Cathy said...

Hi Melting Wok - thanks for stopping by! Actually, I'm not Malaysian, though I remember one other time someone suggested to Santos that I should be added to her list of Asian women foodbloggers. Not sure how that started - maybe it's that so many of my favorite blogs are from Asian women!

Hi Tim - Vanilla might be good, but I was thinking the way to go would be to boost the almond flavor. I'd add a little almond extract and yes - toast that almond on top! It would be interesting to toast all the almonds before grinding them, but I'll bet that would change the flavor (and color) considerably. These aren't very sweet either, but monkeying with the amount of sugar might create other problems.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cathy. I was wondering to the wherabouts of Maida Heatter. My wife and I were both pastry chefs before we knew each other. She worked at Louies Backyard in Key West. And I at Chefs Gardens/Truffles in Naples Florida.
We have 3 of her books. When I need a chocolate fix, I reach for Maidas books. I always wanted to meet her. I learned alot from her books and impressed many people with her recipes. Thanks, Controlhorn

Cathy said...

Hi Controlhorn - I've also always wanted Maida, if only just to tell her how much I've enjoyed her books. I've come across a few recent interviews with her and it sounds as though she's living in Miami Beach where she's lived for over 50 years.