Travel & Life Digest


It all starts with cognac and sniffs of butter, when you whip the butter and sugar together.

Then comes the rosewater sizzle over the fresh-baked cookies, filling the whole house with sweet aroma.

This is a traditional, old-fashioned, rich recipe.

Firstly, you will probably panic at the amount of butter needed; well, keep in mind that this recipe makes  around 50 cookies and it's put together for big, loud, Greek families. Back in the day, you'd take kourabiedes  to friends' homes as a seasonal gift. Not to forget that people used to pop in to see you and wish you Merry Christmas, unannounced, so you needed something luxurious and yummy handy. 

Then there is the old fashioned measuring system: saucers! It refers to the saucer that comes with coffee or tea cups. If you feel you can't swing 50 cookies then just half the amounts and the recipe works perfectly!

Ingredients (make 50 cookies):
- 1kg butter (I use half salted & half unsalted)
- 250gr roasted and chopped almonds (up to you if you want to use them, you can do without)
- 1.2kg all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 saucer of caster sugar, 3/4 of a cup in modern talk
- 1 saucer of fine semolina, 3/4 of a cup in modern talk
- Splash of Cognac or Brandy
- 1kg icing sugar
- Rosewater, diluted in 2 tablespoons of water

Leave the butter out for a couple of hours beforehand, to soften. If you are using unsalted butter only, then add a pinch of salt. It helps bring out the flavour of the butter and the rosewater. 

Whisk together the butter, sugar, semolina and Cognac, until fluffy. 

In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and chopped almonds. Start with 1kg of flour and see if you need the rest as you work the flour in with the butter. 

Combine the flour and almonds with the butter mixture until you have a glossy, soft cookie dough texture. Let the mixture rest in the fridge for 20 minutes. 

If the mixture is getting too warm making the individual cookies will prove tricky, so pop the mixture in the fridge between batches for 10 minutes. 

Line a baking tray with baking paper, no need to butter it. 

Using your hands, make small round balls and press them down slightly to make round cookies about 2 inches in diameter and 1.5 inch high. 
Place them on the baking tray. 

They will expand quite a bit, make sure you give them enough thickness to start with. You need to be able to take a good bite into the crumbly-buttery texture. 

Bake in a 200C oven for 20-25 minutes. Watch them closely, they cannot go darker than golden. 

While the first batch is in the oven, dust a clean baking tray (or a flat surface lined with baking paper) with icing sugar. You will lay all the kourbiedes here to cool down so make sure you have enough space. 

As soon as kourabiedes are out of the oven, sprinkle with rosewater - they sizzle and release the most intoxicating fragrance! If you are using rosewater essence, you might want to dilute it in a couple of tablespoons of water. You are after a hint of rosewater scent, not overpowering intensity. 

Carefully, using a spatula, lay each of them on the baking tray with the icing sugar. 
Put some more icing sugar in a small hand-held sieve  and dust generously over the kourabiedes. It helps to do that when they are hot so that the icing sugar sticks and coats them.

Let them cool down for a while and try restraining yourself from finishing them all off, before Christmas! 
When I make them, my mother always reminds me that I have to guard them overnight, so that my husband won't finish them off! x    

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