The smell of baking wafting through the house the week before Christmas is a great portent of the feasting to come. In Greece, one of the most popular cookies is the delicious almond shortbread dusted in white icing sugar called Kourabiethes.
While there are lots of different recipes, the following is one of the most classic.
- 2 cups of butter
- 1 cup of icing sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 5-6 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 cup of almonds, roasted and chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons of brandy – according to your taste
- 1 teaspoon cinammon powder
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- Rosewater (optional)
- Icing sugar to finish
Firstly make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Beat the butter and icing sugar until creamy and white. Dissolve the baking powder in the brandy and then add to mixture. Add the egg yolks and almonds. Then slowly mix in the cinammon, cloves and the flour until mixture is soft and malleable.
Leave mixture to rest for about an hour in a warm place covered by a towel.
Preheat oven to 350F or 175ºC..
Take small amounts of dough and shape into round or crescent shaped cookies about 3/4 inch thick and place on a buttered cookie sheet. This recipe should make about 30. Bake for about 20-30 minutes until cookies are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven, transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with rosewater if using. Dust with icing sugar once.
Then sift liberal amounts of icing sugar over the cookies until they resemble little mounds of snow.
Kourabiethes are pretty lethal calorie wise – about 115 calories per cookie. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to limit yourself to only one. As they are only served at Christmas, however, the damage these Greek Christmas cookies can do is restricted to the festive season!
- 1½ cups of olive or sunflower oil
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- I tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Grated orange peel
- ½ cup cognac or brandy
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup fine semolina
For the syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
1-2 cups finely chopped walnuts to sprinkle
Dilute soda in orange juice.
Beat the sugar and oil. Add the water, honey, the soda diluted in the orange juice, the baking powder, the orange peel, the cinnamon, cloves and cognac. Mix well then add the flour and semolina gradually. Knead until it becomes a soft dough.
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Take small amounts and shape into logs, but not too flat as they will become too hard after baking. Place onto slightly oiled baking dish and press lightly with a fork. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes.
Leave to cool. In the meantime, make the syrup by boiling the water, sugar, honey and cinnamon until honey and sugar have dissolved. Skim any froth which may formed and boil for about 3 minutes. Take out the cinnamon stick. Dip the cold biscuits – 4 or 5 at a time – into the hot syrup and leave for a minute or two.
Take them out of the syrup and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
These cookies are just over 200 calories per piece so approach with caution.
These biscuits keep well if stored in an airtight container.