Cook the Book: Salted Butter Break-Ups

Cook the Book: Salted Butter Break-Ups

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

After baking a batch of these Salted Butter Break-Ups from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table all I could think about was how much more fun they were than a typical butter cookie, both in flavor—salty-sweet to the max and in how they're meant to be eaten—broken up at the table and plenty messy.

The Break-Ups are essentially a giant salted butter cookie baked whole and meant to be broken up at the table. This gives everyone a chance to grab their favorite part of the cookie, whether it's the slightly darker outer edge or the tender interior. Butter and salt are the two primary flavors in these cookies, so quality counts. A rich French butter is the way to go, and Greenspan recommends sel gris, a slightly moist sea salt with large crystals for this recipe, but any sort of kosher or coarse salt will do. If crumbs are a concern and tabletop breaking isn't your thing, you can certainly roll out the dough and cut them into individual cookies—but that wouldn't be nearly as fun.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Around My French Table to give away this week.

Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. Copyright © 2010. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:4


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon sel gris or kosher salt
  • 9 tablespooons cold unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 egg yolk, for the glaze


  1. 1.

    Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Drop in the pieces of butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal—you’ll have both big pea-sized pieces and small flakes. With the machine running, start adding the cold water gradually: add just enough water to produce a dough that almost forms a ball. When you reach into the bowl to feel the dough, it should be very malleable.

  2. 2.

    Scrape the dough onto a work surface, form it into a square, and pat it down to flatten it a bit. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill it for about 1 hour (or for as long as 3 days). When you’re ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

  3. 3.

    Remove the dough from the fridge and, if it’s very hard, bash it a few times with your rolling pin to soften it. Put the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper and roll it—or pat it—nto a rectangle that’s about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 x 11 inches; accuracy and neatness don’t count for a lot here. Transfer the dough to the lined baking sheet.

  4. 4.

    Beat the egg yolk with a few drops of cold water, and, using a pastry brush, paint the top surface of the dough with the egg wash. Using the back of a table fork, decorate the cookie in a crosshatch pattern.

  5. 5.

    Bake the cookie for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is golden. It will be firm to the touch but have a little spring when pressed in the center—the perfect break-up is crisp on the outside and still tender within. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and allow the cookie to cool to room temperature.