In 1670, in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, the first shortbread biscuits were born and named petit sablés after the town. Today two local pastry shops still make the original versions with AOP butter from the Charente, Maison Drans and La Sablésienne.
Today sablés come in all forms and flavours, including fourrés filled with chocolate and hazelnut paste. Sablés de Noël are Christmas cookies.
The butter, egg yolk and sugar are creamed together before the addition of flour, so the pastry is quite firm, so good for supporting fruit or lemon tarts, hence pâte sablée.
Image by Antoine mf Pelletier, Creative Commons License