Butter Cookies (Kourabiedes, Kurabia, Ghiraybah)
These are the ultimate butter cookies. Buttery and light, they literally melt in your mouth. In many countries, they’re prepared and served on special occasions, such as Christmas and weddings, but in Arabic countries, they’re served to celebrate the end of a fast. These cookies are called kourabiedes in Greece, kurabia in Armenia, and ghiraybah in the Middle East.
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 1 hour for chilling the dough
Cooking time: 12 to 15 minutes a batch
Yield: Approximately 48 cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1⁄2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus additional for sprinkling on baked cookies
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1⁄2 cup very finely chopped walnuts
Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light in color and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy and well blended.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture along with the walnuts. Stir until well combined.
Cover and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to shape into balls, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Pull off pieces of dough and roll into 1-inch balls. Place on a lightly buttered baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.
Bake on the center oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until the cookies are slightly firm.
Place the cookies on a cooling rack and generously sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.