Kourambiethes (Greek Christmas cookies)
Kourambiethes (koo-rahm-bee-EH-thes) also called Kourabiethes (koo-rahb-YEH-thes) are such an essential part of the Greek celebration of Christmas. Kourambiethes are Greek shortbread cookies. They are usually made from almonds, and are shaped either into crescents or balls. This recipe has been tested by our family and they are delicious and addictive! They are melt-in-your-mouth good!
Christmas cookies that are made of pulverized nuts are actually a common cookie type across many cultures, with slight variations: Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Rohlichky in Ukraine, Polvorones in Italy, Mandulas Kiflik in Bulgaria, Kipfel in Austria, Croatian Vanilla Crescents (Vanilin Kiflice) and Snowball Cookies in the US-- to name only a few! They can be made of crushed almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans and are coated or sprinkled with powdered sugar. The key to making sure the powdered sugar sticks, is to roll them in the sugar while still hot from the oven.
½ cup blanched almonds
2 cups unsalted Butter 6 tbs powdered Sugar 2 egg egg yolk 3 tablespoon Cognac or brandy*
1 tsp. vanilla flavor 3 cups flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
whole clove for decoration (optional)
* or orange juice can be substituted
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread almonds in single layer on baking sheet.
Bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Do not overcook, they can burn quickly. Remove from oven; cool, then chop coarsely.
Beat butter in large bowl of electric mixer on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy. Add 6 tbsp powdered sugar. Beat 3 more mins. Add egg yolks, Cognac and vanilla; beat until smooth. Beat in almonds, flour and baking powder until mixed well. (If dough is too soft to handle, add additional flour.)
Shape a Tbs. full of dough into balls or crescent shapes. Stud each cookie in the center with a whole clove and bake for 15 mins. Bake on ungreased baking sheets until set and pale golden in color; 15 minutes.
Remove cookies to cooling rack, dredge in confectioner’s sugar (or use sifter to shake sugar over the cookies) while still warm. Handle with care, or they will break. After the cookies cool a bit, add another dusting of confectioner’s sugar.