We do love our sweets, and whether Baklava, Galaktoboureko or Cypriot Flaouna every Authentic Greek has their own take on a classic dish.
For example, and yes I know it’s past the season but let’s take a look at a Kourabiedes recipe for Greek Christmas Butter Cookies found on MyGreekDish.com:
- 250g butter made from cows milk, cold (9 ounces) (Lurpak unsalted)
- 150g almonds, roughly chopped or almond slivers, roasted (6 ounces)
- 50g almonds (whole) or almond slivers, raw (1.8 ounces). Alternatively you can also give pistachios a try
- 75g icing sugar (2.7 ounces)
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 300g all-purpose flour (10.6 ounces)
- lots of icing sugar for powdering
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. To prepare this kourabiedes (kourabiethes) recipe start by roasting the almonds. Place the roughly chopped almonds (150g/6 ounces) or almond slivers on a baking tray and sprinkle with some water. Bake them for 7-8 minutes, until roasted, being careful not to burn them. Set aside or put in the fridge to cool.
- In a blender, add the raw almonds (50g/1.8 ounces) or the pistachios and blend, until powdered. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add the cold butter and sugar; mix for about 10 seconds, until the butter ‘breaks’ and is completely dissolved. Add the powdered almonds, a pinch of salt, the rosewater and the vanilla extract; mix for 10-20 seconds, until combined. At the end, add the baking powder and flour and mix again for 10-15 seconds.
- Place the mixture in a large bowl and add the roasted almonds; blend lightly with your hands. For the kourabiedes to remain fluffy, it is important that the butter doesn’t warm up and melt. So wait for a while for the roasted almonds to cool, before adding them to the butter mixture and wear plastic gloves, when blending with your hands, so that the temperature of your hands doesn’t warm up the butter.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F layer the bottom of 2 baking trays with parchment paper and form the kourabiedes. Roll 1 tbsp of the dough into a ball, place on the baking tray and push with your finger in the middle, to form a little dimple. Continue with the rest of the dough.
- Place the baking trays with the kourabiedes in second and fourth rack of the oven and turn the heat down to 180C/350F. Bake for approx. 18-20 minutes, until they have a very faint golden tint and are cooked through. Be careful not to overbake them. (Leave the kourabiedes aside to cool down for a while. If you try to lift them, while still warm, they will break.)
- Spray the kourabiedes with rosewater and sift with icing sugar. Enjoy!
Pretty simple, eh?
But every Greek I know has their own slight alteration to make a personalized cookie. Let’s take Yiayia for example, her magic ingredient was a jigger of whiskey. Ironically, and maybe Yiayia knew, alcohol burns off at a temperature of 173 degrees Fahrenheit so it was never about getting a buzz but perhaps more about the oaken or grain flavoring.
Then there’s Dad. Yiayia’s recipe lives on to this day but with a slight enhancement he’s proud to call his own. Thinking logically about the ingredients, and of course using his own mother’s technique to add a shot of whiskey, Dad saw how he could enhance the almond flavor of the cookie by replacing the standard whiskey shot with that of Amaretto, an almond liqueur.
Let’s keep it unique.
For either of the relatives listed above, there is one trick which seems to be unique to the family, no matter who makes Kourabiedes. The MyGreekDish recipe states:
Roll 1 tbsp of the dough into a ball, place on the baking tray and push with your finger in the middle, to form a little dimple.
In our family, what sets apart those Kourabiedes homemade versus those store bought or even from someone using the recipe listed in this article is the unique shape - that of a crescent or perhaps it’s an almond sliver. We’re not sure when it started but for those of us enjoying Kourabiedes whether during the Christmas holiday or any special occasion we can always tell our family signature.