Saturday, December 6, 2008

12 Cookies of Christmas: Day 6 ~ Navettes Sucrees

Navettes Sucrees, or Sugar Shuttles, is a cookie that was completely new to me. When I saw it in Gourmet's favorite cookie lineup, I was immediately intrigued by the juxtaposition of a crispy sugar shell with a cakelike cookie center. And the appearance of the cookie itself was so strikingly different. No question about it, that one was going on my list.

These weren't hard to make, but the dough did require a bit of modification. I had to add a teaspoon of heavy cream to get it to cohere. Even after chilling for over 2 hours, it still broke apart when I rolled it, necessitating a very gentle hand.

The sugar-shell part was surprisingly easy. The egg-white bath followed by a roll in granulated sugar makes magic happen. Such a simple idea, but the end result is gorgeous and belies the simplicity of the process. The interior, a shortbread cookie enriched with extra egg yolk, is tender and cakey. The exterior is a brittle sugary shell that dissolves in your mouth. Together, the two comprise a very unique cookie.

I'm adding these to my list of Wow Cookies ~ those cookies that have appeal that far exceeds the labor that goes into them. Cookie platter winners, in other words.

Navettes Sucrees (Sugar Shuttles)

~Adapted from Gourmet magazine, December 1951, available online here
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 egg white

  • Granulated sugar for rolling

  1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter, egg yolks, and vanilla. Need dough until it holds together and is well blended. Wrap tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Break off small pieces of dough and roll into little cylinders using the palm of your hand on a lightly floured board "to give it the shape of a small sewing-machine shuttle."

  3. Dip each piece in egg white and then roll in granulated sugar.

  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease it lightly with butter. Place cookies on baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

  5. Bake cookies at 350 degrees F for about 8 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. Let sit on cookie sheet 1 minute, then gently remove to a rack to cool.

Recipe Notes:

  • I found the dough to be somewhat difficult to work with ~ it didn't want to come together cooperatively. I added 1 teaspoon of heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, while I was kneading, and that did the trick.

  • I used a teaspoon to carve off pieces of the chilled dough to roll. The dough is friable and wants to break apart, so knead it a bit with your fingers before rolling. I found that rolling gently with my fingers, rather than my palm, worked much better.

  • This cookie stands out for it's textures rather than it's taste, which is much like a standard sugar cookie. Next time I make this one, I'm planning to add some lemon or orange zest or some almond extract to the dough.

Now go see what my fellow bakers are up to today, on this 6th day of Cookies! Andrea of Andrea's Recipes, Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen, Kelly of Sass & Veracity, Courtney of Coco Cooks, Jerry of Cooking by the Seat of My Pants, and Judy of No Fear Entertaining.


Judy@nofearentertaining said...

Love this cookie. This is my next one! They certainly do look pretty and thanks for the tips!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Nice to know it's a WOW cookies. Sounds delicious!

glamah16 said...

I agree. I would jazz this cookie up with an extract like almod or such nect time. Gourmet had a viseo with the test kitchen person, who didnt find the cookie attractive, but we disagree! I found this was the cookie people reched for on the cookie trays I made. Good idea withe the addition of cream too.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone made these. The unusual aspect also caught my eye. Thanks for your great notes -- I think in the long run, that's what's helpful and encouraging for some of these interesting recipes. I love a cookie with a delicate dough. Now if I could just find some patience!

Katie Barlow said...

Wow...these do look intriguing. I must try these sometime. Come check out my cookie list and giveaway at

Andrea said...

Those definitely look cookie platter worthy. They look beautiful!

Sandy Smith said...

~Judy: Can't wait to see how yours come out!

~Shari & Glamah: Definitely a hit on those cookie trays. It's so unusual looking ~ in a good way.

~KellyPea: I hear you . . . I am so ready for a nice bar cookie right about now!

~Katie: I look forward to seeing how your cookies come out too!

~Andrea: Thanks much! said...

Nice food photography!

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