Vanilla Bean and Cocoa Pâte Sablées [Vegan]

One cannot predict when inspiration will strike.

Vanilla Bean & Cocoa Pate Sablees [Vegan] | EmmaEats

And, with all the warm summery weather, one might think that turning on the oven for anything, let alone to bake cookies might be the last thing on my mind. Maybe. But probably not.

Over Emma’s break from school, we’ve made an effort to explore a few local bakeries and I was pleasantly reminded of a favourite childhood treat when we visited a nearby French patisserie. We’ve since been back a few times and the girls have loved all that they’ve eaten — including a version of chocolate pinwheels made with pâte sablée dough.

Pâte sablée is a sweet, slightly sandy textured delicate cookie dough somewhat reminiscent of shortbread. It’s often used as a sweet cookie crust in tarts. Chocolate pinwheel cookies use a similar dough too. Usually, these cookies are made with butter and egg but this version substitutes coconut oil for the butter and eliminates the egg, making them vegan. Vegan or not, once the dough is made and refrigerated (or frozen), slicing and baking them is quick and easy. It means they can be enjoyed anytime. Just ask Katie and Emma, who couldn’t get enough of these both before and after they were baked. And, it means our vegan and dairy-free friends can enjoy them with us too.

It’s good to strike when the iron is hot. Even if the kitchen is already hot.

Vanilla Bean and Cocoa Pâte Sablées [Vegan]

(makes approximately 72 cookies)

Vanilla Bean & Cocoa Pate Sablees [Vegan] | EmmaEats

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of ground kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 2/3 cups unrefined coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp rice milk, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat together the icing sugar and coconut oil in a large bowl. Slowly add the flour to the sugar mixture and continue mixing. Add the vanilla bean paste and drizzle in 1/4 cup of the rice milk. Continue to mix until the dough begins to come together into a large ball. The mixture will start off very crumbly and may need a tablespoon or two more milk. Try pinching the dough together and see if it sticks. If it does, then you won’t need more milk and just a little more time in the mixer.

Remove half of the dough, pushing it together with your hands into a ball and set it aside. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the dough remaining in the bowl and mix until well combined. Drizzle in the remaining milk if the dough isn’t coming together well.

Shape each ball of dough into a flattened rectangle. Wrap each into plastic wrap separately and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and between two pieces of parchment paper roll each piece to 1/8″ thickness. Remove the top piece of parchment from each layer and sandwich the vanilla and cocoa layers together. Remove the top piece of parchment paper again and slice into 6 equal-width rectangles. Each section will be 2 layers high – one cocoa and one vanilla. Stack 3 sections on top of one another. Repeat with the other 3 sections to form two 6-layer rectangles of cookie dough.

Wrap each into plastic wrap separately and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. [Note: you can also freeze the dough at this point for up to one month.]

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set racks to the top third and bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375F.

Unwrap one bar of chilled cookie dough and with a sharp knife, trim and discard the uneven ends. Then slice the remaining bar into 1/8″ wide cookies. Each bar will yield approximately 36 cookies. Place 18 cookies spaced 1″ apart onto one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining 18 cookies.

Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms are just slightly golden, rotating and switching the baking sheets halfway through. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and cool completely on rack. Repeat with the remaining unbaked cookie dough.

The cookies last for 1 week stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • This dough can easily be made by hand or using a stand mixer.
  • This cookie dough is incredibly flexible. Mix orange or mint flavouring into the cocoa dough in place of the extra milk for a delicious alternative.
  • Convert the squares into pinwheels. When the two layers of dough are sandwiched together, roll them together into a cylinder rather than slicing them into smaller rectangles.  Refrigerate the cylinder, wrapped in plastic wrap, inside the tube of a roll of paper towels to keep the dough rounded.  After the dough is chilled, slice and bake as described above.
  • If freezing the dough, there’s no need to thaw it entirely before baking. Thaw it long enough to be able to slice it. Then bake the still-frozen cookies in the preheated oven for a minute or two longer.

Note: I’ve entered this recipe in EatInEatOut’s 2nd annual Christmas in July contest and hope this recipe will be featured in the Holiday 2013 issue of EatInEatOut magazine. Did you see last year’s winner?



  1. these are just so so beautiful.
    for some reason i find i turn on the oven more often in the summer time than in the winter, and for cookies like these i can’t blame you for turning it on during the heat! i especially love that these can be made way in advance, left in the freezer and baked when the need for a sweet treat calls.

  2. I love that your summer project was to explore all the bakeries! That’s amazing, tasty, and lots of simple fun. I can imagine all the inspiration from it all 🙂
    I’m a sucker for chocolate+vanilla cookies (pinwheels or stripes or checkerboards). They are the best of both worlds and I wish more people returned to the classics instead of stuffing oreos into cookies into brownies 😉

    • Admittedly, it didn’t take much convincing of anyone here to visit bakeries and eat pain au chocolat and cookies with any sort of regularity. I only just realized why Emma was disappointed to head back to school!

      As for the classics, there’s good reason they have become classics. 🙂

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