Why is a “sandy” sandy?

Supposedly they’re called that because the sandy — or sablé, of which the World Peace Cookie is an example — was invented in the town of Sable-sur-Sarthe toward the end of the 17th Century. However I suspect the crumbly, vaguely gritty mouthfeel of the sandy also plays a part in the name. But what causes that texture? Scroll down and look at the recipe and see if you can figure it out. What’s the big difference between a sablé and a conventional cookie from an ingredient standpoint? Go on, I’ll wait.

Dum dee dum dum…

You got it, it doesn’t have any liquid in it. No milk, no egg, the dough is held together solely by soft butter and a small amount of molasses. So then what is the upshot of a dough that has virtually no moisture in it? Without much water (I say “much” because butter is about 15% water), the flour won’t gelatinize, much less form activated gluten, and the sugar won’t reduce to a syrup. Hence the sandy feeling on the tongue. Shortbread works the same way.

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