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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kourambiethes (Greek Almond Shortbread Cookies)

On our kitchen counter this morning we have homemade brownies. We have homemade granola. In our freezer we have Häagen-Dazs. In our refrigerator we have Kozy Shack rice pudding. Yet, my dad is still not satisfied with this selection of sweets. He requested that I make some cookies; either Koulouria (Greek butter cookies, which IMHO are bland and gross) or wedding cookies. I compromised and made Kourambiethes, which are Greek cookies sort of like wedding cookies, but with almonds instead of pecans! These are my favorite Greek cookie, and quite frankly, the only Greek cookie I've ever encountered that isn't soaked in syrup or completely dry and tasteless (or topped with sesame seeds, something I'll NEVER understand). The dough for this particular recipe is just a tad difficult to work with because it's slightly crumbly; a "short dough," if you please. But the flavor and texture of the finished cookies is so delightful! They're crumbly, but somehow they still feel moist on your tongue. Definitely something I'll be making again and again! :)
Kourambiethes (Greek Almond Shortbread Cookies) (adapted from "Come Cook With Us: A Thesaurus of Greek Cooking" by The Hellenic Woman's Club, Norfolk VA)
Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 egg
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted, ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (my own addition)
Whole cloves (my own addition)
Confectioners' sugar

Melt butter in saucepan. Remove from heat and cool. Pour butter into a mixing bowl, being careful not to include the sediment in bottom of pan. Beat butter well. Add eggs and sugar and beat well (about 2-3 minutes on high, or until the mixture looks very pale and creamy). Add flour, vanilla, and almonds, and beat for a minute or two; then work well with hands.

Shape in desired forms (1 1/2" balls or crescent shapes). Flatten balls slightly and press a whole clove in the center of each cookie. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes (Mine only needed about 18-20 minutes, just until the bottoms turn light golden). After baking, let cool and dust with confectioners' sugar (I tossed mine in a bag filled with confectioners' sugar while they were hot, and again when they cooled completely).

25 comments:

Stacy said...

Mmmmm, these look great! And good pictures!

Lucie said...

Are these like Mexican Wedding cookies? In any case they look really really good...mixed in with the rice pudding is the way I would go!

Lo said...

Love the texture of this sort of cookie. And the almond is wonderful!

Valerina said...

I can see how crumbly these are! They look like they must dissolve in your mouth. Thanks for the recipe. :D

Chrisanthy said...

Love Kourambiethes! Being Greek myself they are on the top 5 for favorite greek pastry!!!!

Larie said...

Ohh, I love crumbly cookies like these! Though I really might not have made it past the Häagen-Dazs ;)

Snooky doodle said...

these look good! I ve also posted some almond cookies :)

Indulge Your Fancy said...

Several names for your wedding cookies (Mexican wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes, and Sandies).Its the melted butter and dissolved sugar that makes them Moist as you said, compared to the others where the butter is mixed in solid and the sugar stays firm which makes it more crumbly. I personally love the "wedding" version but I'll have to try these, any cookies a good cookie!

Treehouse Chef said...

These cookies look delicious. I love greek food. Great photos!

CaSaundraLeigh said...

I always love learing about different country's foods...especially desserts!

NikiTheo said...

What i fine absolutely hysterical is that I love koulouria WAY more than Kourambethes b/c I think Kourambethes are way to dry for my liking. Not to say that Koulouria aren't on the dry side (ironically, my yiayia's are never as dry as others), but they are supposed to be b/c they're dipping cookies. Most Greeks dip them in coffee, but I love them plain or in hot chocolate.
Have you ever tried Melomakarona? Those are sweet and cinnamony and crumbly and delicious. And they don't have to be soaked in honey. A little drizzle goes a long way, unfortunately a lot of Greeks like them drenched. (Not me)

Jelli Bean said...

I think these sound much better with your flavor additions, though I must admit I do not think I have ever tried a Greek cookie. What a splendid daughter you are to accomodate your father´s request. Good work!

Suzanne said...

YUM! Oh how i wish my husband LIKED almonds...I could make them anyway..but I'd just eat them all!!
Also...I'm with you on the sesame seeds. I haven't found anything other than a quarter pounder w/cheese that I'm ok with sesame seeds on. *shrugs*

Simply Life said...

oh those look great!

Mat said...

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kekstester said...

Mouthwatering!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

It's probably my Chinese heritage, but I must admit I love anything topped with sesame seeds! Nonetheless, I love these cookies and other similar ones like Mexican Wedding Cookies. Growing up, I would eat a whole box in 1-2 sittings =-X. You're dad's lucky to have you around hehe.

Dani said...

these look fantastic!

NikiTheo said...

I am making melomakarina for Easter this year, so I'll post it after!

thepastrykook said...

they look awesome! :D

Ingrid said...

Oh, I didn't know if you added almonds instead of pecans it became a Greek cookie. LOL, guess I've made these before then. I love this cookie for just the reason you stated crumbly yet it starts melting as soon as it hits your tongue.
~ingrid

Tay said...

These look like the wedding cookies I make, only I use pecans since I have family members allergic to almonds. Your photos are making me want to make some of those wedding cookies right now.

Anonymous said...

I'm so excited to make these, thanks for the recipe! My mother's side of the family is Greek and here in Los Angeles, there is really only one authentic Greek restaurant/bakery that we've found. My mother drives 2 hours to get boxes of these cookies every now and then. They're her favorite. I've been wanting to find a recipe for us to make together. I'm going to bring this to her tomorrow when I visit. Thanks again!

janarhodes said...

Hi from Rhodes, Greece!
I really like that you love kourambiedes.
The Greeks definitely don't consider them "wedding cookies". They are actually Christmas cookies as well as the melomakarona (Nikitheo said).

I can understand that most of the people out of Greece do not like the syrup soaked cakes and cookies, you have to try them "on spot" - meaning in Greece and for sure from a good bakery (or housewife).
Living in Greece I can tell you that most of the Greeks really enjoy each cookie for a specific period - like "Easter koulourakia - cookies" for Easter, kourambiedes and melomakarona for Christmas etc.
You should definitely try to make Easter cookies (koulourakia) from Smyrni - so called Smyrnaika koulourakia - the texture is perfect (crumble), the taste of the best butter, orange juice and a bit of cognac make them really special.
Jana

karmologyclinic said...

Hi! Being greek myself, kourambiethes is one of my favorite cookies. Some years ago I went to extremes (ok not so much) to find the best kourambies recipe. After trying many that were not satisfactory, I found this one and perfected it have made every year since then with success!
http://karmologyclinic.wordpress.com/2007/12/26/the-ultimate-kourambies-tutorial/