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Featured image: Close up of powdered sugar cookies on a platter.
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Kourabiedes (Greek Christmas Butter Cookies)

A classic staple in Greek homes around Christmas time, kourabiedes are tender and buttery shortbread cookies that melt in your mouth. They're the perfect holiday treat!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Greek
Keyword greek butter cookies, greek christmas cookies, greek shortbread cookies, kourabiedes, kourabiethes, kourambiedes, kourambiethes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings 40 cookies (approximately)
Author Marissa @ OMGfood

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 1 pound unsalted butter softened at room temperature
  • 50 grams (½ cup) powdered/confectioners sugar sifted
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or ouzo
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 540 grams (4 cups) all-purpose flour see notes*
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar see notes*
  • 75 grams (½ cup) raw almonds
  • rose water and/or orange blossom water optional

For the sugar coating

  • 330-450 grams grams (~3-4 cups) powdered/confectioners sugar

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Lightly roast the almonds for 5-8 minutes and allow to cool, then chop to a coarse or fine consistency, depending on preference.*
  • Sift together the flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • Add butter to the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment equipped. Beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes; it will appear light and fluffy. Reduce the speed and add in the sifted powdered sugar. Once it’s incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat an additional 10 minutes; it will then appear fluffier and lighter in color (this is an important step – see notes for more info).*
  • Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and brandy or ouzo and mix until incorporated.
  • Add the sifted flour in half-cup increments. Once all the flour has been added, add the almonds. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 30 seconds.
  • The dough should feel soft and silky with a pillowy texture. If it sticks to your hands, continue mixing and add sifted flour in two tablespoon increments until it no longer sticks.
  • Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls (26-30 grams or two tablespoons) and flatten slightly and/or shape into crescents. Place onto ungreased baking sheets one inch apart.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they reach a pale beige/golden color on top; the bottoms will be golden brown. Note that the cookies are extra delicate when they’re hot, so handle with care.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for five minutes. An optional step is to sprinkle the kourabiedes with rose or orange blossom water.
  • With a sieve, evenly line a large pan with 1 ½ cups powdered sugar. Carefully nestle the kourabiedes into the sugared pan and completely cover with 2 cups of sugar. Use more sugar if needed.
  • Allow to cool completely before transferring to a platter to serve.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  1. The amount of flour will likely be enough, but keep some extra on reserve for step number seven just in case! If measuring flour by volume, be sure to use the scoop and level method.
  2. Cream of tartar can be replaced with baking powder at 1:1 ratio but I find the cookies can come out a little crumblier with it. Not a bad thing necessarily! Just something to note.
  3. Many recipes call for blanched and roasted almonds, though raw almonds that are lightly roasted works just as well! Different variants will also suggest coarsely chopping the almonds, but this is not required. I personally like to chop the almonds in a food processor to a finer powder for a more “melt-in-your-mouth” experience. Go with what works for you! :)
  4. The secret to this recipe that makes it work so well is letting the butter whip and whip for a long time, adding the sugar in halfway, until it becomes soft and fluffy. Do not skip or speed up this step! If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer can be used instead.

 

HOW TO PRONOUNCE KOURABIES/KOURABIEDES

  • Kourabies (single cookie) = khoo-rah-BYEHS
  • Kourabiedes (multiple cookies) = khoo-rah-BYEH-thes (with a hard “th”)

HOW TO STORE KOURABIEDES

  • Either cover the pan with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature. They will keep up to six weeks.

HOW TO GIFT KOURABIEDES

  • In true Greek-American fashion, place a kourabies into a cupcake liner before packaging in an airtight container. This is also how my parents and relatives would bring cookies to holiday parties, making it easier and neater for folks to grab a treat – because that powdered sugar can sure get deliciously messy!