Irene’s Kourabiedes (Kourabiethes) (Greek Butter Cookies)

Kourabiedes are a traditional Greek cookie made for special occasions like Christmas. They are butter cookies covered with icing sugar and are a favourite among Greeks. This recipe makes a huge amount of cookies (about 8 dozen), so feel free to cut the recipe in half or simply give them away to loved ones as gifts!

2 lbs of unsalted butter
1 lb of Crisko
1 cup of icing sugar
2 cups of sliced and toasted almonds
6 egg yolks
2 tablespoons of ouzo*
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 tablespoons of baking powder
½ teaspoon of baking soda
10 cups of flour
½ cup of rose water
About 3-4 cups of icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Using an electric blender, cream the softened butters together. Blend for about 5 minutes as you scrape the sides of the bowl. Slowly add in the icing sugar followed by the toasted almonds (be sure to toast the almonds in the oven for about 6-7 minutes at a low heat before you begin making the cookies). As you continue to blend the mixture, add in the egg yolks. Add the ouzo and vanilla and continue to blend. Add the baking powder and baking soda to the mixture (be sure to mix it with a cup of flour before you slowly add it to the mixture). Slowly add the remaining flour and continue to mix with the electric blender. With your hands, knead the dough for a few minutes. You can tell the dough is ready when it no longer sticks to your hands as you knead it.

To shape the dough you may use a cookie cutter or simply shape the dough into small crescents and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.

Once the cookies have finished baking, remove from the oven and sprinkle the cookies with rose water. Allow the cookies to cool slightly and then roll each cookie in a bowl of icing sugar. Set on a decorative plate. Enjoy!

*in this video Irene uses ouzo, but you could use either cognac or brandy (Metaxa is usually used)

How to make Greek Coffee

Greek coffee is both delicious and mysterious! It is a wonderful drink to serve your house guests, but also provides a window into your past, present and future…well, apparently, but we’re not quite sure. Greek coffee is quite strong and is served with the foam at the top and the grounds at the bottom of the cup. It is made using a small pot, called a briki in Greek, and is sweetened according to taste: bitter, medium, sweet, or very sweet. The coffee is served in demitasse or espresso cups and is always served with a cold glass of water. We bought our coffee in Greece while we were there last summer, but it is also widely available in Greek specialty stores as well as the ethnic section of most grocery stores across North America.

To make Greek coffee you will need:

  • Cold Water (1 demitasse cup per person)
  • Sugar (For medium sweetness use 1 teaspoon per cup, but you can adjust this according to your own preference)
  • Greek coffee (1 teaspoon per cup)
  • A small pot (briki)

Use the demitasse cup to measure out 1 cup of water per person and pour the water in your pot. Once the water is hot but before it begins to boil, add the sugar and then the coffee. For medium sweetness use 1 teaspoon of sugar for each cup you are making. If you would like it sweeter, add 2 teaspoons of sugar for each cup, but if you prefer your coffee bitter then don’t add any sugar at all. For the coffee you will use 1 teaspoon of coffee for each cup you are making. Stir to dissolve the coffee and sugar, but do not stir again. Turn your stove to medium-low heat and wait for the coffee to begin to bubble. As the water begins to boil, the foam will rise to the top. As Eva explains in the video this foam is called kaïmaki in Greek. Once the coffee has begun to foam, it’s ready. Place 1 teaspoon of foam in each cup (this way everyone’s coffee gets a bit of the delicious foam) and then pour the rest of the coffee in the cups. The coffee is now ready to serve. Be sure to give of your guests a tall glass of cold water with the coffee!

If you’ve had the chance to visit Greece you might have see people turning their finished cups of coffee over onto the saucer and then having their fortune read to them, a practice known as tasseography. Let us know your experiences with this!