These Greek Christmas almond shortbread cookies are part of the traditional holiday baking in every house in Greece. The minute these buttery, crumbly and highly aromatic cookies emerge from the oven, there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that Christmas is just around the corner!
Growing up in Greece, my mom would always make trays of these almond cookies (kourabiedes) and more trays of the other classic Greek Christmas cookie, honey-drenched orange and spice cookies (melomakarona). Then, she had to promptly try–mostly unsuccessfully–to hide them from us kids. The minute a friend, or a relative, would show up at our house, the cookies would make their appearance to welcome them, stacked high and arranged on beautiful platters.
Even thought these cookies are traditionally crescent-shaped, the simplest of all patterns–the humble ball–is perfectly acceptable too. These are truly super-easy to make and what really transforms them is the generous dusting of powder sugar once they are baked. These are dreamy, magical cookies, buttery, crumbly and utterly delicious, with every bite slowly melting in your mouth!
- 6 oz. (1½ sticks) good quality butter, room temperature
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar (+ 1 cup more for coating and dusting)
- 1 med. egg yolk
- ¼ tsp. almond extract
- 1¼ cup All-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ cup slivered or whole blanched almonds, toasted
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Lightly toast the almonds in a small skillet, making sure the almonds do not burn. Chop them roughly and set aside.
- In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and ½ cup confectioner’s sugar until very creamy. Add the egg yolk and the almond extract.
- In a small bowl, blend the flour and the salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix just until just combined. Next, stir in the toasted almonds. The dough will be sticky, but do not add more flour at this point. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. (If the dough is still too soft, add one tablespoon of flour). Using a small spoon take a tablespoon of the dough and form it into a small ball and place on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Bake for about 15 minutes, or, until the bottom of the cookie is light brown. (Check so you do not over-bake).
- While the cookies are baking, pour the remaining one cup of confectioner's sugar into a small bowl. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. When they are easy to handle, gently roll them, one by one, in confectioner's sugar to coat. Once they are cooled completely, place them in a platter and dust them generously with the confectioner's sugar.
To bake all cookies at once, place the baking sheets on the top and the middle rack and use the "convection bake" setting of the oven. Lower the temperature to 325°F and bake for about 10 minutes.
It is very easy to double this recipe - I always do! The cookies can be stored at room temperature, slightly covered for a week.
Merry Christmas friends and best wishes for the holidays!
Here are a few more festive treats from the blog’s archives:
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