If you spend your winter in Greece, there is a high chance that you will taste this delicious Christmas treat known as kourabie.
Together with melomakarona, kourabiedes are among the two sweets most related to the Greek winter holidays. In this post, we show you how to make kourabiedes to add a twist of Greek spirit to your Christmas celebration!
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Original Recipe for Greek Kourabiedes
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If you still haven’t heard of them, kourabiedes are a crunchy biscuit, shortbread style, made with just a few ingredients, including butter, flour, and roasted almonds.
We agree that they seem easy and plain, yet selected flavors of your choice, including orange juice or even a few drops of rose water, make a huge difference, and along with some of the other ingredients included in the kourabiedes recipe, they make the most delicious Christmas treat.
Covered in tons of icing sugar, kourabiedes resemble the wintery snow-capped mountains of Greece. In other words, they are nothing but just the perfect Christmas biscuit!
The Origins of Kourabiedes Christmas Cookies
It all started many years ago when immigrants from Asia brought with them a delicacy very similar to what we now know as kourabiedes in Greece.
As often happens, the Greeks kept the tradition and made the recipe even better by adding some of the best local ingredients.
They can still be found in the most traditional recipe for kourabiedes. Since then, and every winter, locals prepare kourabiedes during the holiday season.
We Can Eat Kourabiedes All Year Round!
Friable and rich in flavor, it is no wonder that in many Greek regions, kourabiedes are actually prepared (and even bought) on many happy occasions, including Easter holidays, a wedding, or a christening celebration.
Kourabiedes are better known for being winter sweets, especially popular around the Christmas holidays.
Many believe that the plenty of icing sugar that covers each cookie is supposed to represent the pure wish for happiness and an abundance of blessings for the new year.
Where Does the Word Kourabie Come From?
As you may have read, Greece has been, for many, really too many years, under the oppression of the Ottoman Empire.
Therefore, it isn’t surprising to discover that the word originally came from Turkey. Kourabiedes (kourabie in singular) were initially known as kurabiye, a Turkish word made from two different words: kuru, meaning dry, and biye, which stands for biscuit.
Being dry and crumbing are two of the most remarkable characteristics of this biscuit. Want to learn more? Check this article about the origin of kourabiedes.
Calories in Kourabiedes
Before embarking on a guilt trip, remember that you will probably eat kourabiedes only during Christmas, which is not the best moment in the year to start counting calories, right?
A medium-sized kourabie can contain from 130 up to 200 calories, mainly when it includes large chunks of almonds, which make the calorie count go up by a lot.
Remember that these biscuits are made with tons of butter, a source of saturated fat, less healthy than olive oil (monounsaturated and therefore healthier fat), the most common fat used in most Greek recipes.
However, and as long as you keep a moderate intake of kourabiedes, you will also take in the excellent healthy properties of almonds.
If you want to keep it healthier, eliminate some of the icing sugar to avoid extra calories you don’t need, as the biscuits are already super tasteful.
Kourabiedes with Chocolate… What About That?
I have always preferred melomakarona and, significantly, melomakarona dipped in dark chocolate.
However, it is fair to say that kourabiedes dipped in milk chocolate can be a fantastic alternative to chocolate melomakarona.
Which Cookies Do You Like Best? Kourabiedes or Melomakarona?
- 900 gr. flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 egg yolks
- 500 gr. good quality unsalted butter
- 220 gr. powdered sugar
- 2 envelopes of vanilla powder
- 30 gr. cognac or ouzo… or use raki as we do in Crete
- 200-280 gr unsalted almonds
- a pinch of salt
- FOR THE TOPPING:
- Rose water (optional)
- 300 gr. powdered sugar (for coating)
How to roast the almonds:
- Preheat oven to 180°
- Place the almonds in a tray and roast for about 8-10 minutes.
- When cool, chop in chunks, but do not chop too finely.
For the kourabiedes,
- Mix baking powder, one of the dry vanillas, salt, and flour in a bowl and set aside.
- Make the butter soft with a mixer for at least 10 minutes. Add sugar and keep mixing for another 7 minutes.
- The secret to great kourabiedes lies in this step. This mixture must be white and very fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks one at a time.
- Remove the mix from the mixer and slowly add half of the flour mixture and the raki, ouzo, or cognac.
- Slowly add the rest of the flour carefully so as not to add too much at a time.
- The mixture should not be complicated but light and airy, so perhaps you might not need to add all the flour mixture.
- Incorporate the almonds, and once the mix has reached a firm consistency, shape them into small balls, half-moon shapes, or any way you like! You can even use cookie cutters to give the cookies a fun holiday-themed shape.
- Place the cookies on a trave on top of waxed paper and, if you like, lightly sprinkle with rosewater.
- Bake at 170° for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Space them correctly on the baking tray because they may double in size.
- When you remove the kourabiedes from the oven, coat them by sprinkling the 300 gr of powdered sugar mixed with the remaining vanilla powder.
- If appropriately stored in a covered container, they can last for weeks.
- How to Make Melomakarona: Delicious Greek Christmas Cookies
- How to Make Vasilopita: Greek New Year’s Cake
- Christmas in Crete: Unique Holiday Traditions and Best Things to Do
- Unique Greek Christmas Traditions: Everything About Christmas in Greece
Pin this Kourabiedes Recipe and Make the Most Delicious Christmas Cookies with a Taste of Greece!
About my blog:
I moved to Crete in 2016. During these years, I learned much about the island.
In Crete, I juggle being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours, and writing for several travel media.
I’ve written for Greek Reporter, published travel guides about Greece, co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.