Even if life can be very difficult sometimes, Christmas time is always a period that can make you smile. It is a period that can make you feel the joy in the atmosphere. Not much needed to get in this joyful mood! A Christmas card, a present, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and of course baking! Getting in the kitchen and baking all these Christmas goodies for your beloved ones is an unfailingly way to get in the spirit! So I did too!! I baked a big batch of kourabiedes! The aromas of butter and vanilla that filled the house make me realize that Christmas is here at last!
Kourabiedes are one of the two most popular traditional Christmas sweets that exists in every Greek home this time of the year. The other one is melomakarona. Last year I gave you the melomakarona recipe, so this year is time for kourabiedes recipe.
Kourabiedes are extra delicious and extra addictive butter and almond cookies covered with powdered sugar. A lot of powdered sugar! They traditionally made in Christmas period but also as a treat in weddings and other big celebrations. The preparation is not difficult but you have to be careful about some things. First of all is the butter. You certainly need good quality butter, real butter. It is the main ingredient for kourabiedes so it has to be good. Another thing is time of beating the butter. You have to beat butter with sugar for at least 20 minutes. This is a critical point for the cookies to be tender, airy and melt-in-your-mouth. The fluffier the butter gets the fluffier the kourabiedes are.
Time of baking is also crucial to the tenderness of the cookies. Do not overbake. Kourabiedes are ready when they start to get golden brown at the edges. I bake them for 20 minutes at 175°C.
Traditionally kourabiedes are shaped into crescents. This is the only shape I remember from my childhood and in order to create this shape, a drinking glass was used. In fact I still use a drinking glass. It is easier to use a cookie cutter but this is the way I learned to make kourabiedes and this is the way I continue to do this. You can cut them into any other shape you like! Stars are very beautiful, too!
Happy baking and Happy Christmas to all of you!!!
kourabiedes - Greek Christmas Butter Cookies
- 240 gr blanched almonds, chopped
- 600 gr butter, at room temperature
- 220 gr powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 50 gr brandy
- 1 kg all purpose flour, sifted
- Additional powdered sugar (sifted) for coating kourambiedes
Preheat the oven at 175°C.
Spread chopped almonds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast for 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature.
Using a stand mixer beat butter and sugar (at high speed) for at least 20-25 minutes until light and fluffy.
Add vanilla extract.
Gradually add half of the flour and the brandy and continue beating for another 5 minutes.
Stop the mixer and mix in the rest of the flour by hand.
Mix in the toasted almonds.
The dough should be soft and buttery.
Take about 1/3 of the dough and place it on parchment paper on a flat surface.
Press the dough with your hands to flatten or roll it out with a rolling pin. The dough should be about 1-1,5 cm thick.
Cut cookies using a crescent moon shaped cutter (the traditional shape of a kourambie) or any other shape you like.
Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Bake at 175°C for 20 minutes.
Continue this way until all the dough is shaped to cookies (we take a small amount of the dough each time because it is easier to handle).
Remove from the oven an let cool for about 10 minutes.
Add powdered sugar in a big bowl or a deep tray.
Take 3-4 cookies (kourambiedes) at a time and place them in the bowl.
Cover generously with sugar and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
kourambiedes can last for a long time in an airtight container.
***Slightly adapted from the recipe for Kourabiedes by Stelios Parliaros.