Crisp, slightly citrus, a little nutty, and layered with a fine dusting of snow white powdered sugar. Please enjoy my non traditional take on the traditional Kourabiedes or Greek Christmas Cookie recipe.
I’m such a bitch sometimes- most times. But I feel bad about it later, which, I suppose, makes me an insecure bitch.
For example: I made these Kourabiedes for a Greek themed dinner party. When we arrived I set them on the table one of the other guests (who is also my friend) exclaimed “Oh, you made Russian Tea Cakes! I love those, my family and I bake them every Christmas.” Perhaps at that moment, I was still channeling one of the many Greek bakers, whose authentic recipes I had consulted and then adulterated, when I curtly/jokingly answered “No, this is Greek night. These are Kourabiedes, GREEK Christmas cookies. “
At the time I didn’t even know the difference (almonds versus walnuts, rose water or orange blossom water), or that Russian tea cakes aren’t actually Russian or that there was a third common variation, the Mexican Wedding Cookie (pecans, vanilla).
That night, all I knew was that they were Greek because a friend who was Greek had made a huge and wonderful batch for my wedding (which, I know, makes them wedding cookies, but I divorced that guy so that makes them Christmas cookies). So these cannot be Russian Tea cakes-even though the recipes are nearly identical- because that holds no meaning for me, that is not my tradition, (I have no tradition, my family never baked Christmas cookies but every year my father gifted us Satsumas, see how this works?) and not my memory either.
But, perhaps they are Russian Tea Cakes for you and they evoke scents of cinnamon and vanilla, steamy kitchens and family, or maybe you call them Snowballs or Polvorónes and that’s okay too. Whatever the name you should make some because the dough, scented with orange and almond, evokes a familiar warmth and the cookies once baked are melt in your mouth tender with a billow of powdered sugar in every crumbly bite.
Just try not to be a bitch about it.
Kourabiedes: Greek Christmas Cookies w/satsuma and almond
magda over at my little expat kitchen is far more of an expert than I am and her photos are an excellent guide for how things should look. I, of course, combined her technique with a few other recipes and ingredients of my own to make a not completely traditional Greek Christmas Cookie.
- 70 g confectioners powdered sugar (about a half a cup)
- 235 g unsalted butter 8 ounces, 2 sticks, 1 cup softened
- the zest from one satsuma orange preferably organic or unsprayed
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 T satsuma juice or brandy
- 1 T brandy or amaretto or satsuma or orange juice
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 65 g almonds skinned or unskinned (about 1 cup)
- 265 g AP flour about 2 cups
- scant 1/2 tsp of diamond kosher salt or less if using regular
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 100-200 g confectioners sugar to coat and dust the cookies afterwards
- toast the almonds by putting them in an uncreased pan over medium heat until they just begin to brown and you can smell the toasty almond flavor. set aside to cool
- combine the powdered sugar, satsuma zest, and the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer outfitted with the beater attachment and beat for way longer than you think you should (about 10 minutes with a powerful mixer, 18 minutes with a less powerful mixer, and I don’t know how long by hand) until the mixture is light and creamy (the texture of whipped cream according to one source)
- while the butter is being beaten crush the almonds either in a food processor or putting them in a bag and beating them with a pan or rolling pin. how course or fine is largely a matter preference but it’s nice to leave some coarse bits for texture and bite in the final cookie
- add the egg yolk to the butter mixture and beat until incorporated , scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary
- next add the vanilla and whatever combo or amaretto/brandy/satsuma orange juice you decide on and mix until incorporated
- add the ground almonds and again beat til incorporated
- sift together the flour, salt, and the baking powder, whisking to combine and then add to the rest and beat on medium until totally incorporated.
- cover and chill the dough for about 30 minutes, meanwhile preheat your oven to 350F (180C)
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and form the cookies. I used a small (approx 1 inch) spring loaded scoop to make even sized balls. Place on a cookie sheet about one inch apart and bake 12-15 minutes or until they are a light golden color and some cracks are just appearing on the tops.
- Allow to cool for about ten minutes and then roll the cookies in powdered sugar to coat. if you did it right they are tender so do this gently.
- Put the cookies on whatever serving or sharing verses you intend to use and then dust generously with powdered sugar to finish.
- Will keep covered at room temperature for a week or two