Qurabiya in Iranian Azerbaijain or Kurabiye in Turkish or Kourabies in Greek, is a shortbread-type almond biscuit very traditional in Middle East and Greece. Particularly in Greece ,baking Kourabiedes would be what Christmas smell like. Though the recipe is relatively simple to make, the details ,tips and secrets of past generations, is the key for success. Today in our kitchen we are proud to present a recipe that back dates to early 19th century. Our friend George, joined us today from Crete island, a few days before Christmas to bake with us his great-great-great grandmother’s recipe. Konstantza who is George’s grandmother is honoured on the title for sharing her family’s recipe and secrets.
George told us the basis for success lies in the fresh butter made from goat milk, elaborated knitting and attention during the making.
Shopping List (for approximately 100 small pieces)
- 650gr fresh butter from goat milk , cool down in room temperature or melt in low heat.
- 500gr fresh raw almonds (unsalted).
- 2 egg yolks.
- 1 shot of Cognac (preferably Metaxa)or other aromatic liquer (Dark Rum, Whiskey etc).
- 1 tsp grounded cinnamon
- 4 tbsp icing sugar for the dough and 500gr approximately for the topping.
- 1400gr all purpose flour or as the recipe dictates as much as it’s needed for the dough to sit, so be flexible when it comes to flour and Greek grandmothers.
And now what?
Pre heat the oven at 180 C/356 F. Place the raw almonds in a baking sheet and roast for approximately 30 minutes or until they are crunchy and dry. Then crush them in a mortar slightly to get some big chunks.
Place the fresh butter in a big mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar. Use a fine sieve to dust the sugar before adding to make sure it will blend nicely with the butter. Then add the egg yolks.
Mix very well for 10-15 minutes with your hands. Do not use a mixer. Then add the almonds, Cognac and ground cinnamon and keep blending with your hands.
Now is the time to start adding the flour in small batches. The original recipe stands for as much flour needed. For the ingredients above we counted approximately 1400gr flour. The dough will have to be hard and stuffed with flour. The butter will keep the Qurabiya fluffy so don’t be afraid to add more flour than what we propose here if you feel your dough is not stiff enough. It really depends on the consistency of the butter you will use. As a best practice guide consider the dough should crumbling in your fingers (η ζύμη να θρουλάει=θρυμματίζεται στα κρητικά οπως λέει και η Κωνσταντζα).
When the dough is ready you can now start moulding the Qurabiyas. Traditionally in Greece we make a half moon shape but it is usually quicker and easier to make small round bites too. The temperature of your hands keep the butter warm and helps in shaping. Place the Qurabiyas in a large buttered baking sheet
It’s now time to bake our first batch. Pre-heat the oven at 180C/356 F and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes or until the dough gets a golden colour . The baking depends on the size so keep an eye on the oven after 35 minutes.
Once Qurabiyas are baked let them sit and cool down a little bit. Then with a fine sieve dust them with icing sugar until they are all covered with sugar. Once you remove them from your baking sheet you can roll them in sugar to make sure they are uniformly covered.
Tips and things to pay attention
- The aroma of Qurabiya comes from the almond and ground cinnamon
- Do not use a mixer, always use your hands for blending
- The fresh butter keeps the Qurabiyas fluffy
- Because it s never really clear how much flour to add, It s better to add more than less
- Slightly crush the almond, the big chunks add to the flavour