• Cyprus Cooking by Liz

Kourabiedes - Christmas biscuits


Kourabiedes - Christmas biscuits, I made them a little early this year, to the delight of my loved ones, so as to write the recipe on my blog. Kourabiedes are traditionally prepared before Christmas, Mrs. Amalia baked them a week in advance of the Christmas holidays, as in the 40 days fasting period before Christmas these biscuits are not eaten as they contain butter and egg yolk, so she baked them preferably a few days before Christmas and used the biscuits as decoration on the Christmas table before the holidays. Now a days fewer and fewer people fast for 40 days, so the biscuits are available well before the holidays at any bakery. Actually traditionally butter was not part of the Cypriot diet, so Mrs. Amalia probably made them with shortening, but as my sister in law who lives in Greece was with us that time and she was the one who added butter instead of shortening and the result was so nice, that that recipe remained in the family. They have a wonderful aroma and butter taste, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside with crunchy roasted almond pieces, a melt in the mouth experience I must say. My family loves them, but as I like to keep some tradition I only bake them just before Christmas.

Ingredients

The recipe below is for around 45 biscuits, depending on size and thickness. I have halved the recipe so I made 23 biscuits.

  • 450 gr unsalted butter on room temperature

  • 110 gr caster sugar

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar

  • 70 gr brandy, rum or liquor

  • 1 teaspoon full of baking powder

  • 1 kg flour 00

  • 110 gr roasted large almond pieces

  • rose water

  • icing sugar as much as needed

Method

Beat the soft butter with the mixer until real soft and white (see photo).

Add sugar and beat until well combined.

Add egg and mix, egg should be completely absorbed.

Add vanilla sugar and brandy to the butter mixture and mix well.

Add flour and baking powder to the mixture, 2 spoons at a time and mix on low speed. At a certain point it becomes difficult to mix so at that point switch of the mixer and add the remainder of the flour by hand.

This is more or less how the dough looks, when the mixer cannot mix it anymore, it is quite thick and now continue by hand with the remaining flour.

The dough is ready, it does not stick on the hands anymore and at this stage the almonds are added. Fold the dough over, kneed so that all the almonds are mixed into the dough.

Dough is ready.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Flatten by hand a large piece of dough on the kitchen worktop or on a large wooden board. It should be 1/2 to 3/4 of a centimeter thick.

Press biscuits with the help of a glass or a cookie cutter, press quite strong so as to break the almond pieces where necessary.

Lift up each biscuit with a pancake spatula and place on a large oven tray covered with baking paper.

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes.

In the meantime, place a large sheet of aluminum foil on the worktop and sift icing sugar all over it.

Place the ready baked biscuits immediately on the icing sugar.

Spray each biscuit with the rosewater, work quick, it is important that the biscuits are hot. Then sift plenty of icing sugar all over the biscuits.

As they are slightly wet and hot the icing sugar will melt and be absorbed and they will color yellowish (see photo), sift icing sugar until they are evenly white.

Ready "Kourabiedes", they can be kept crunchy and fresh in an airtight glass or plastic container and to be arranged on a decorated plate or in a glass cookie jar on Christmas Eve.

Enjoy - Καλή όρεξη!

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