These biscuits for Christmas and the New Year are simply like no others! They are called kourabiedes or κουραμπιέδες and beating the butter for that long guarantees that the biscuits will be puff and crunchy, or friand as we say in France, like all biscuits in the same category! But this recipe is full of innovation even for Greeks thanks to the use of spices (cinnamon and cloves) and the thing that makes this recipe even better than the original recipe (check the story below) is that it uses roasted almonds :-)
Try and you will see that Greek can also make great biscuits for Christmas and the New Year! Nevertheless, if for some reason you cannot eat butter, or you simply do not want to eat butter, then you should try this other recipe of Christmas cookies called melomakarona which are also puff and slightly crispy even if they are immerged into syrup and made with olive oil and honey :-)
It’s up to you to choose which cookies to make or not to choose at all and make both recipes :-)
It’s up to you!
In two words:
- 500gr of all-purpose flour
- 325gr of unsalted butter (soften)
- ¾ cup of almonds
- ¼ cup of caster sugar
- the zest of ½ an orange
- ¼ cup of orange juice
- ¼ cup of cognac
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon (or less) of ground cloves (*)
- confectioners sugar
- The same day in the morning or the day before get the butter out of the refrigerator
- Preheat the oven at 180°C
- Add water into a casserole and turn the heat on
- Place the almonds into the boiling water and let them for 2’-3’
- Get the almonds out of the water and let them cool a little bit
- Once they are cold enough so that you can touch them with your hands, use your fingers to remove their skin by scrubbing them between your fingers
- Place them in a tray going to the oven and bake them for 12’
- Get them out of the oven and let them cool completely
- In a bowl bring together:
- Stir the spices together with the flour in a bowl by using a whisk
- In a big bowl add the soften butter that you should cut into pieces if it’s not soften enough
- Start beating up the butter with an electric hand mixer for 20’ until it becomes airy as a chantilly
- Next add the sugar and keep beating
- Add the lean orange jus (pass it over a sieve) and continue to beat with the electric hand mixer (***)
- Add the cognac and continue to beat (***)
- Add the orange zest and continue to beat
- Start to add the flour one tablespoon at a time and continue to beat after each addition
- At some point you will not be able to continue to beat with the electric hand mixer, at that point you should start bringing the dough together with your hand, you will see that gradually it becomes quite smooth, elastic and beautiful
- While you are doing all of the above, the almonds should have been cold so chop them in rough pieces but not big ones
- Add the chopped almonds in the dough
- Bring everything up together with you hand until almonds are nicely spread inside the dough
- Place some parchment paper in trays going into the oven
- Form small round biscuits that are thick enough and place them on the trays going to the oven
- Bake for 23’-25’ cookies in each tray
- Take out the biscuits and let them cool a little
- Once they are slightly warm sprinkle confectioners sugar on top, passing it over a sieve, you need to have just enough sugar on top of each biscuit but not too much
- Let them cool completely and place them in a plate in multiple layers
- Have a bite! It’s delicious!
What’s the story behind this recipe?
These Greek biscuits are called kourabiedes or κουραμπιέδες κουραμπιέδες and they are traditional biscuits for Christmas and the New Year. I used to eat them for the New Year but you can find them, or make them, even in the beginning of the season. They are very good and quite different from the Christmas biscuits in France. Especially because they are much more thicker than the usual sables as we know them in France. Usually they have the shape of a semi-moon but I cannot manage to form this shape well :-( even if I know how to do it. For this reason, I form small round biscuits (almost as spheres) that are all different and this matches really well with the spirit of this dessert that is so different as well!
Furthermore, this recipe is really special, because it adds spices thing that does not normally exist in the traditional recipe and thus it’s not common. It’s a recipe that I found in a book that was given to us as a gift by our bosses in Greece while in my first job working for the biggest Mass Media Group of the time. I was really lucky working for them even as an independent partner because I crossed very intelligent people, with good taste, and the big bosses were nice people that helped everybody and especially their country!
When I chose this recipe in the book, I realized that these kourabiedes were a recipe from Mrs Lena who is the sister of the late owner of the Group with his sisters and who was a brave and honest man, a great leader for the Group as well as for the cultural and political life in Greece. Mrs Lena was my first boss in Greece as it was she who led the department for which I was working. I took the liberty to change the recipe a bit but I know she will not think this inappropriate because she had big trust in me.
When I will have the book in my hands again, I will put the exact reference of the original recipe but please note that it’s in Greek!
Try to make these biscuits and you will see that Greek know also how to make sables that are not as those we know in France but are very good or even better from the ones we have here :-)
(*) If you cannot find ground cloves or in powderuse a mortar to crash some cloves in order to produce enough powder, you would have to pass the cloves through a sieve as to get only the powder and not the rest
(**) You should add grounded cloves little by littlebecause the taste is very strong, especially when it’s crashed through a mortar
(***) Each time you add a liquid ingredient,you need to be sure that it has been absorbed by the rest of the batter before adding the next one
o-o C'est si bon ! o-o