With Christmas around the corner, our kitchen is on fire!
We have been baking cookies for the last three days and our house smells divine!
When I think of Christmas in Greece, two things instantly come to my mind, kourabiedes and melomakarona. Kourabiedes are a powdery white snowball cookie and melomakarona are a walnut and honey cookie.
Both are so delicious that you can’t stop eating at one!
You will find them in every house during Christmas time, but they are also offered throughout the whole year at weddings, baptisms and even at Easter in some parts of Greece.
In my family, we only had them during Christmas holidays.
The word “kourabies” derives from the Turkish word “kurabiye”, that means “dry cookie” and is used to cover a great assortment of sweets, rather than the Greek kourabie, which is a cookie tossed in confectioner’s sugar.
The recipe for Christmas snowball cookies is very similar to the process of making shortbread cookies, with the difference that the almond bits give it a good crunch!
The cookie batter is not very sweet and pairs nicely with the icing sugar.
The secret to scrumptious Christmas snowball cookies is without a doubt the excellent quality butter, either sheep butter, cow butter or even a mix of both.
In our recipe, we mixed the butter with the icing sugar for a good 30 minutes on medium-high speed, before we added the flour.
The fluffier the butter mixture becomes; the fluffier your almond snowball cookies will turn out.
We recommend icing your delicious snowball cookies when they are completely cold.
Since, when they are hot, the first layer of icing sugar will melt and leave a stale taste, which is not very pleasant.
If you store in an airtight container, these snowball cookies can keep for a very long time, making them an ideal Christmas gift for your beloved ones!
This year we made a big batch, so we can send to family and friends.
Vassilis is already off delivering some to his grandma Eleni, who is very old and can no longer make them on her own.
She has a sweet tooth and she savors each bite.
I’m now off to place the rest of the almond snowball cookies in tin cans that I got yesterday morning!
I’ll wrap them in red ribbon with a little sprig of holly.
…Praying I will have them finished before I leave for work!
- 250gr. excellent quality sheep’s butter, room temperature
- 90gr. confectioner’s sugar, (+ 100gr. for dusting kourabiedes)
- 1 fresh vanilla pod, split lengthwise & seeds scraped out
- 500gr. all-purpose flour, sifted
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ pinch salt
- 20ml. brandy or rum
- 100gr. almonds
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius / fan mode.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add the almonds and bake for 10 minutes, until golden brown.
Remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer almonds to a big plate.
Keep them aside and let them cool.
When they come to room temperature, chop them coarsely.
Remember that almonds SHOULD NOT be finely ground!
Add the butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla seeds in the mixer bowl.
Beat them on medium-high speed for approximately 30 minutes, until the mixture becomes fluffy.
Mix the flour, the baking powder and the salt in a deep plate.
At low speed, slowly add the flour into the mixture.
At low speed, pour in the brandy or rum.
Finally, at low speed, add the chopped almonds.
Remove the bowl from the mixer.
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius / fan mode.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop out a small piece of dough and roll it into a ball, using your hands.
Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheets, until you have no dough left.
Bake kourabiedes for approximately 25 minutes, until nicely browned.
Remove kourabiedes from the oven and let them completely cool.
Add the rest of the confectioner’s sugar in a big platter.
Put 3-4 kourabiedes at a time in the platter and gently toss them to coat with sugar.
Remove excess sugar from the kourabiedes and transfer them in a nice big platter.
Repeat until all kourabiedes are coated with sugar.
Serve and enjoy!