Kourabiedes – Greek Christmas Cookies

I have one more cookie recipe you, just in time for Christmas.

These cookies are a traditional Greek cookie served at Christmas time. They are like a shortbread cookie with almonds and covered in a lot of confectioners sugar. A lot. And I’m not just saying that because I’m obsessed with the stuff. It’s a Greek fact.

These Christmas cookies do not have a lot ingredients in them, but like many recipes every family makes them slightly different. Depending on the recipe, some cookies don’t contain nuts. Some cookies have whiskey or ouzo (which I skipped).

My mom makes these cookies every Christmas (without almonds). I wanted to use her recipe because they are delicious but my mom’s recipe card is like some secret code that only she knows how to decipher. The instructions like “add flour until the dough leaves bowl clean.” I asked my mom to translate that to a measurement because I need precise measurements when I bake, and of course for the blog. She’s has made these cookies so many times that it totally makes sense to her when she’s actually making them. This recipe is not my first attempt, but it was a complete success. That means I finally have a recipe that I love and can make every Christmas.

I’ve included some step by step photos because I thought it would be helpful for those of you trying to make these for the first time. They’ll also be a good reminder to me when I go to make them (at least until I become an expert like my mom 😉 ). I’m sorry that the prep pictures aren’t great quality but it’s hard to take a good shot of stuff in big silver bowl.

Tip #1: Make sure that the butter is room temperature so that it can mix well with the sugar. In the wintertime, my house is on the cold side, so room temperature isn’t as accurate as you’d expect. When you poke the butter with your finger, there should be a dent. If that’s not the case it’s probably still too cold.

Tip #2: Cream the butter and sugar for a long time. I’m not a scientist, but apparently magic happens the longer beat it. I don’t usually use a stand mixer but would highly recommend one for this recipe.

Tip #3: Include the almonds because they really give the kourabiedes great flavor and texture.

Tip #4: I toasted the almonds but I don’t think that’s strictly necessary.

Tip #5: I used skinless almonds because I don’t like the skins in cookies.

Gosh, the almonds and butter mixture smell amazing already. I could probably stop here and just use it as fancy butter for toast. 😉

Tip #6: Add the right amount of flour. This is the tricky part for me (and I imagine others). You don’t want to add too much flour so that the cookie dough is crumbly and you can’t form the cookie balls. You also want to make sure that you add enough flour otherwise you’ll end up with flat butter pucks.

I highly recommend weighing your flour to ensure that it’s the exact amount that you need. My husband and I use an Ozeri scale all the time and we love it.

Anyway, if you don’t have a scale or you’re trying a new recipe that doesn’t have weight measurements, your goal here is to have cookie dough that is every so slightly sticky to the touch.

Tip #7: I use a medium Oxo cookie scoop to help portion each cookie consistently.

And there you go! They look like like pillows covered in all that confectioners sugar. My Yiayia (grandma) and her friends often place each cookie into a paper cup to help keep all of that powdery goodness from going everywhere. It’s actually a great idea that I hadn’t remembered until now, but I will try it next year if I remember.

As far as Greek baking goes, these cookies aren’t too much work but they’re kind of a finicky recipe (at least they were for me at the start). My family hasn’t tried them yet but I’m so excited to see what they think and if they love them as much as my mom’s. You know, because mom’s recipes are always the ones to beat.

Kourabiedes Recipe
(Makes about 2 dozen cookies)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature (equivalent to 2 sticks)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar/confectioners sugar (equivalent to 120 grams), divided per the directions
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (I used Diamond slivered almonds.)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (equivalent to 239 grams)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the room temperature butter and 1/2 cup (equivalent to 60 grams) of powdered sugar.
  2. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar for 15 minutes on medium speed
  3. While the butter and powdered sugar are being mixed, toast the slivered almonds. In a skillet on medium heat, add the slivered almonds and cook them until they are lightly browned. Don’t use any oil or cooking spray.
  4. Remove the toasted almonds from the skillet and let them cool.
  5. Once the toasted almonds have cooled, add them to a food processor and process them until they’re coarsely chopped. Set them aside.
  6. Getting back to the butter and powdered sugar mixture… after the 15 minutes are done (as mentioned in step #2), add the vanilla extract and beat it until combined.
  7. Add in the chopped almonds and beat again until it’s completely combined.
  8. Add in the all purpose flour and beat again until it’s just combined. The cookie dough should be a tiny bit sticky.
  9. Chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  10. While the cookie dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the cookie sheet by laying parchment paper or a silicon mat on it. I use AmazonBasics baking silicon mats.
  11. Take about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll it into a ball. I use a medium Oxo cookie scoop to help portion each cookie consistently. Ever so slightly flatten the top of the cookie dough balls.
  12. Bake them in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until they are slightly browned.
  13. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
  14. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of powdered sugar to a bowl.
  15. Once the cookies have cooled, place each cookie into the powdered sugar and cover them completely.
  16. After you’ve platted them, dust them with additional powdered sugar on top. (More is better.)

Adapted from: My Little Expat Kitchen

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