Buttery kourambiedes is a traditional Greek Christmas cookie with ground almonds or other nuts. This nut-free kourambiedes (koo-rah-bee-YEH-thehs) recipe makes cookies that are just as buttery and melt-in-your-mouth tender as the original. Kourambiedes are great to make in advance because they keep well.
Nut-Free Kourambiedes (Greek Butter Cookies)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 11 minutes
Yield: About 4 dozen
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 to 3 tablespoons rosewater (optional)*
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with a mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Gradually add 1/2 cup of the confectioners' sugar and blend in the egg yolk, the brandy or cognac, and vanilla extract. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times during the mixing.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and then add to the butter mixture in four or five batches, making sure that each batch is well blended before adding the next. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula a few times, as necessary.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Break off walnut-size pieces of the cookie dough and roll by hand into balls, half-moon, or S shapes. Place the rolled cookies on the cookie sheet, leaving 1 inch between them.
Bake the cookies for 11 to 12 minutes, until golden.
Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Lightly sprinkle the cookies with the rosewater (if desired). Cool the cookies until just warm.
The cookies need to be warm so that the confectioners' sugar (from the next step) will adhere well.
Place 1-1/2 cups of the remaining confectioners' sugar on a baking sheet. Remove the cookies from the parchment paper and place the cookies on the confectioners' sugar. Sift more confectioners' sugar on top of them. Cool completely and then roll the cookies in the confectioners' sugar on the cookie sheet.
Store in the confectioners' sugar in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.
* Rosewater is used often in Greek and Turkish cuisine. It has a distinct yet delicate flavor. Buy edible-quality rosewater, which is available at many cookware shops, at shops that specialize in Middle Eastern ingredients, or through mail-order catalogs.