Put just a few good quality basic ingredients together – salted butter, sugar, egg yolks, flour and baking powder – and what do you get? Irresistible Palets Bretons, French popular buttery cookies from Brittany, so easy to make! It’s also a classic base used for making many kinds of French patisseries.
These delicious sweet yet salty butter biscuits (cookies) may not be found in patisseries around Paris but I guarantee you’ll find them lining the aisles of sweet munchies in French supermarkets. But let me warn you: once you make them, you’ll not want to buy the regular brands again.
Sablés Bretons and Palets: What’s the Difference?
Very like Sablés Bretons, which are a thinner and shiny salted biscuit/cookie resembling shortbread (Sablé means sand in French, referring to the crumb-like texture of the dough), Palets Bretons (meaning Breton disks or flat stones) are much thicker, airy and lightly crispy.
To make Sablés Bretons, just cut them thinner and reduce the baking time.
What Butter is Best to Use for Palets Bretons?
Perfect with an afternoon cup of tea, the best part is that Palets Bretons are not that sweet since they contain a large amount (about 20%) of the famous Breton salted butter from the North coast of France. This is what makes them compulsive eating!
Ideally, use good quality salted butter from Brittany for this recipe but – as this isn’t always easy to find outside of France – use unsalted butter and add good quality salt from Brittany such as fleur de sel from the Guérande, so that the resulting taste is more authentic.
How to Make French Salted Butter Biscuits
Many French chefs tell you to roll out the dough between two baking sheets, cut out circles using cookie cutters and bake them directly in pastry rings. As I’m making them at home and don’t have that many pastry rings (who does?), I find it so much quicker and easier to roll out the dough into a sausage shape and bake them in muffin moulds.
This recipe makes enough for about 10 large Palets Breton biscuits using regular muffin moulds (at 156 calories per large biscuit). I love making these mini versions (using mini muffin moulds) but if you prefer the bigger version, then just double the recipe quantity below -the dough also freezes well up to a month in its sausage shape. Defrost in the fridge before use and cut to size for the rest of the recipe.
Your Oven and Over-Baked ‘Bitter’ Biscuits
Just a quick word: be careful not to over-bake them. You know your own oven best: all recipes stating oven temperatures are there as a guide. So if after 15 minutes your Palets Bretons already look golden brown, then they’re ready. If you’re not sure about your ovens and temperatures, then check yours out with an oven thermometer, just to make sure it’s doing what it says it’s doing.
If they’re dark brown, then they’re over-baked and could even taste a bit bitter. In fact, they’ll no longer be French Salted Butter Biscuits but Bitter Biscuits!
How to Serve Palets Bretons?
I know you may be tempted to add vanilla, cinnamon, or lemon zest – but there’s nothing to beat enjoying Palets Bretons plain to enjoy their irresistible, salty and buttery addictiveness.
Somehow, the word ‘plain’ doesn’t do them justice! Taste them for yourself and tell me in the comments below how you prefer them.
What’s more, you’ll find them disguised in French patisseries, or served in restaurants as a dessert – presented as a base and topped with pastry cream with berries. Think creamy strawberry cakes, topped with chocolate, or crunchy nougat. Over to your imagination!
Ideas for Palets Bretons Biscuit Toppings
This is also a handy French recipe to have up your sleeve as it serves as a base for many chic yet easy desserts like cheesecake, mousse or even if it’s just a topping of pastry cream and fresh strawberries.
- Here I piped on some pistachio pastry cream, taken from my recipe book, Teatime in Paris. Many of the cream variations are good: e.g. coffee, hazelnut and chocolate;
- A blob of chocolate ganache (or chocolate spread if you don’t have time) would also be perfect with the salt and sweet – especially for Easter: stick on some mini Easter eggs, edible flowers, raspberries – let your imagination go mad;
- As this is part of the egg yolk recipe collection, USE UP THE EGG WHITES to make this Chocolate Passion Fruit Mousse (and macarons, of course!)?
- Top with crunchy nougatine – I saw a Parisian pastry shop carry this in their window – great idea, as the salty biscuit goes heavenly with the nuts. Get the easiest French nougatine recipe here;
- A simple dollop of Chantilly cream or even crème frâiche with a strawberry on top will be simply and utterly delicious.
Egg Yolk Recipe Using 2 or 4 Yolks
For those of you who love to make macarons, macaron trifles, meringues, financier cakes, tuiles, etc. you need just egg whites. This recipe uses 2 egg yolks (or 4 yolks if you make a bigger batch of larger biscuits), so is ideal to make if you’re planning to make any of them later.
See more in the egg yolk recipe database in the index.
More Easy French Teacakes & Biscuits
You’ll find Financier teacakes (including gluten-free chocolate hazelnut), chocolate-filled Tigrés, Madeleines, Diamond biscuits, almond Tuiles, Canelés, Coconut macaroons … and that’s just part of the FIRST chapter, out of 6 main French pastry types.
Palets Bretons - Salted French Butter Biscuits from Brittany
- 90 g (3oz) butter (unsalted)* at room temperature
- 75 g (2.5oz) sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt (fleur de sel) omit if using good quality French salted butter
- 2 egg yolks organic
- 125 g (4oz) Plain flour (all-purpose)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
Express Strawberry Tartlet Topping
- strawberries or wild strawberries
- 200 ml (7fl oz) whipping cream (30% fat) chilled
- Using a mixer, beat together the softened butter, sugar and salt until light and creamy. Mix in the egg yolks then the flour and baking powder until a lovely soft dough forms. (If you don’t have a mixer or electric whisk, this can be done by hand in a large bowl).
- Using the palm of your hands, roll the dough back and forward to create a sausage shape until the diameter is the size of your moulds (here I used mini muffin silicone moulds @5cm diameter). Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180°C/360°F/160°C fan (gas mark 4)
- Cut disks of 1.5cm (3/4 inch) and press them into the muffin moulds (unbuttered – there’s enough butter in the biscuits!)
- Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Leave to cool in the moulds then turn them out on to a baking rack, pretty side up.
Express Mini Strawberry Tartlets
- Whip the cream in a chilled bowl until thickened and top with a strawberry or a few wild strawberries.
Also delicious topped with chocolate ganache, chocolate mousse, lemon curd, or Chantilly cream and strawberries.
This recipe was originally published 10 April 2016. Now updated to include a recipe video, a printable recipe card and used the recipe as a base for many additional toppings as is done in many French patisseries.