"W" Is for "Why Are My Cookies Dry?": Viennese Sablés

When I needed a quick cookie recipe, I decided to try Dorie Greenspan's recipe for "Viennese Sablés" from Baking Chez Moi. According to Dorie, these cookies are traditionally piped in a "W" shape for Wittamer (the Brussels pastry shop where Pierre Hermé first learned to make them) and Wien (German for Vienna, where the cookies are thought to have been invented). The headnote describes these cookies as tasting exactly like the Danish butter cookies that come in the blue tin -- and that got me excited because those blue tins of cookies stacked in the white ruffled paper cups are one of the fondest memories of my childhood.

To make the batter for these cookies, you put very soft butter in a mixing bowl; sift over powdered sugar and add salt; beat just until smooth; and then beat in an egg white, followed by vanilla and flour. You put the dough in a pastry bag with an open star tip and pipe the dough into the shape of your choice on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
I thought that the baked cookies looked great -- they were pretty close to the cookbook photo, and they retained the "W" shape well and looked neat. But I was disappointed when I tasted one. The cookbook says that while you should get an initial crunch from the cookies, they should melt in your mouth. I definitely got the initial crunch, because the cookies were hard and dry. The cookies were a little better on the second day (and they do have a similar butter-vanilla flavor to the cookies in the blue tin), but they were still too dry for my taste and not what I would have expected from a sablé.

Until I can figure out what went wrong with the texture of these cookies, I'll stick with the blue tin!

Recipe: "Viennese Sablés" from Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan.