O kourabiedes!!

 Grandma, may I have a kourabiedaki? (kourabiedaki is the diminutive of kourabies) This was my pre Christmas refrain as a child. A kourabiedaki, as if the diminutive word could make the kourabies look smaller and the result of eating it during a fasting period would be less important. Because the days before Christmas Day are not only about honey syrup, butter and sugar clouds. They are about expectations and children’s impatience as well.

This delicious cookie, also known as kurabiye (Turkey) ghraibeh or ghraybeh (Middle East),  might be the descendant of the medieval nuhud al-‘adhra (virgin’s breasts).  Four 13th-century cookbooks from the eastern Arab world  reflect a  fascination with this buttery delight.
In a guest post  on Anissa’s blog, Charles Perry explores the virgin’s breasts. ”The ingredient list is much the same: flour, butter and sugar, but there are some differences. The medieval pastry is made with toasted flour, while ghraibeh uses semolina, and ghraibeh is flavored with rose water and orange blossom water. And the proportions are different. Nuhud al-‘adhra uses flour, sugar and butter in equal amounts, but there is more flour in ghraibeh.”

A kurabiye recipe listed in the Ottoman Cookery, a collection of classic recipes of the Ottoman Empire  compiled byTurabi Efendi (1864), calls for 4 parts  flour, 2 1/2  parts sugar and 2 1/2 parts  butter (p.128) Another one calls for 2 parts  flour, 1 3/8 butter, 1 part sugar and 1 nutmeg (grated).
Although the typical ingredients of Greek kourabies are also flour, butter and sugar  I am very fond of the local variations favored in the Greek islands and Peloponnesos. Toasted almonds and orange blossom water give an explosive aroma to those kourabiedes.  

My mother’s kourabiedes
1 water glass extra virgin olive oil
1 water glass sheep’s butter at room temperature 
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for coating
1 tsp soda powder
50 gr. almonds, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup brandy
blossom water

Preheat oven to medium (180c).
Beat the butter with olive oil by hand for 10 minutes. Cream the butter-olive oil and sugar in a bowl. You must have a very creamy and light mixture. Add the beaten eggs, stirring constantly.  Alternately add the baking sodadissolved in the brandy and 2 tbs orange blossom water to the mixture, beating after each addition until combined. Stir in almonds and add flour as necessary to make a soft and sticky dough.
Knead well. 
Mold into half moon, small ball or star shape  and place kourabiedes on a cookie sheet. Bake for 17 – 20 minutes until light golden and cracks appear at the top. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle with blossom water. After 5 minutes roll in the powdered sugar. When thoroughly cooled, sprinkle them with some more powdered sugar. 

Kourabiedes with olive oil
Kourabiedes with olive oil instead of butter are popular in the olive growing regions. 
Use the above recipe but  substitute the butter for olive oil and add 200 gr. almonds instead of 50 gr.



2 thoughts on “O kourabiedes!!

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