Kourabiedes (Greek almond biscuits)
- Makes about 34
- Hands-on time 35 min, oven time 20 min
Maria Elia’s melt-in-the-mouth biscuit recipe hails back to the Greek patisseries of her childhood. These buttery ‘snowballs’ are often served at festive times, Easter and Christmas.
- 8g (4g saturated)
- 10g (3.1g sugars)
- 250g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g icing sugar, sifted, plus about 200g extra for dusting
- 100g flaked almonds
- 1 large free-range egg yolk
- 1 tbsp ouzo or brandy
- 300g plain flour, sifted with ½ tsp baking powder
- 1–2 tbsp good quality orange flower water or rosewater (Maria uses a less intense Middle Eastern brand such as Cortas, but if you can’t find that use less)
- Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the 100g sifted icing sugar in a large mixing bowl until pale and fluffy (it will take at least 10-12 minutes).
- Meanwhile, scatter the almonds in an oven tray and roast until lightly golden (3-4 minutes). Set aside to cool a little, then finely chop.
- Slowly add the egg yolk and ouzo or brandy to the butter mixture, beating until combined. Gradually add the flour-baking powder mixture and nuts and combine to form a dough. You may have to gently knead in the last of the flour by hand.
- Lightly flour your hands. Roll walnut-size pieces of the dough into balls, then into 5cm lengths and form into crescents (or see tips). Spread the biscuits over 2-3 baking paper-lined baking sheets. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden.
- Transfer the baked biscuits to a cooling rack and, while still warm, sprinkle lightly with orange flower water or rosewater. Dust with icing sugar, then leave to cool completely before adding a final generous dusting of icing sugar.
The crescent shape is traditional but the dough can be rolled out to 1cm thick and cut into shapes with a pastry cutter if you prefer. They need to be bite-size, though, as they’re pretty messy to eat.
You can experiment by adding various flavour combinations in step 3. Try finely chopped fresh rosemary and grated orange zest; a pinch of ground cardamom or ginger; crushed fennel seeds or finely chopped white chocolate chips and a drizzle of rosewater; chopped almonds and walnuts; or a pinch of ground cinnamon with brandy instead of ouzo.
You can make the dough up to 48 hours in advance. Wrap in cling film and store in a sealed container in the fridge. Bring up to room temperature a few hours before baking. The finished biscuits will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
It’s traditional to stud each crescent with a clove before baking – it recalls the spices given by the Three Wise Men to the infant Jesus, but it’s not nice if you forget to remove the clove before taking a bite! Nowadays most people leave them out of the recipe.
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