Kourabiethes ~ Greek Almond Shortbread Cookies

Kourabiethes, otherwise known as Greek Almond Shortbread cookies are traditional Greek Christmas cookies sure to be found in every Greek home over the festive season. There was never a Christmas without these buttery cookies when Zoy was growing up. As soon as it hit December, the scent of toasted almonds and vanilla would waft through the house as his mother would be in the kitchen shaping and baking the Kourabiethes; something she first started making for Zoy’s father as they were his favourite festive treat. Zoy recalls the Kourabiethes never lasting to Christmas day. Sometimes they’d be gone within the first week and the family would fight over the last one.

 

 

I learnt how to make Kourabiethes from Zoy’s mother, my mother in law. The first ones I ever tried were hers and I have yet to taste ones I like better. Zoy’s mother’s Kourabiethes are loaded with the traditional toasted almonds and scented with vanilla, but what sets hers apart is the addition of brandy, orange rind and orange blossom syrup. With a clove embedded in the centre of each cookie, these ultra buttery and super crumbly Kourabiethes smell and taste just like Christmas.

Ingredients

Makes 50-60 pieces.

  • 500g Unsalted Butter

  • 2 & 1/2-3 tablespoons Caster Sugar

  • 1 Egg

  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

  • 1 teaspoon Brandy (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon Orange Blossom Water (optional)

  • Grated rind of 1 Orange

  • 1/2 cup blanched Almonds, roughly chopped & lightly toasted

  • 2.5 cups Plain Flour (sifted)

  • 2.5 cups Self Raising Flour (sifted)

  • Whole Cloves (50-60 cloves)

  • Icing Sugar, for dusting & coating

  • Vanilla Sugar, for dusting

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees celsius.

  2. Cream the butter and sugar with a hand-held or stand mixer, then add the egg, vanilla, brandy and orange blossom water, mixing well. Gently stir in the almonds and orange rind. 

  3. Add the flour gradually by spoonfuls, mixing until the mixture comes away from sides of bowl (you may not end up using all the flour)

  4. Shape into crescents, oval or rounds and place on baking trays lined with baking paper. 

  5. Gently press a clove into the middle of each biscuit. 

  6. Cook for approx 20 mins or until lightly golden. Let them slightly cool. 

  7. Place sheets of foil on a flat surface and sieve icing sugar all over it then sprinkle vanilla sugar over as well.  Lift biscuits with a spatula (they will be very crumbly!) and carefully place them onto the foil and then sieve icing sugar all over to cover biscuits followed by a sprinkling of vanilla sugar. 

  8. Leave to cool then layer them in a biscuit tin. Store for up to a month.