Irini Tzortzouglou, MasterChef and Greek Cookaway Chef shares with us one of her favourite Greek Christmas desserts – Kourabie.
Kourabie are shortbread-type biscuits made with almonds that were traditionally enjoyed over Christmas and New Year in Greece. Nowadays, the sweet treat has come to symbolise any celebration within Greek culture, including birthdays and weddings.
Having grown up in Greece, Irini has fond memories of indulging in homemade Kourabie over the festive period – “For me, and millions of Greek families, there can be no Christmas without them!” she tells us.
IRINI’S TAKE ON KOURABIE
“This recipe is based on my favourite ever kourabie recipe which is in my book ‘Under The Olive Tree’. It has been changed to contain hazelnuts, which roasted are absolutely delicious. The biscuits are covered with melted white chocolate to which food colouring has been added and then piped over.”
Ingredients (makes about 30)
250g hazelnuts with their skins on
100g caster sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
375g plain flour
Also, white chocolate to cover and food colouring to decorate
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Roast the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking tray for 12–15 minutes, until they are releasing their aroma fully and are starting to brown. Empty them onto a clean towel and rub a little to remove excess skin but don’t worry if some is left on. Allow the hazelnuts to cool and pulse in a food processor in a few short bursts so as not to break them up too much. You should have distinct hazelnut pieces.
Now, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line 1 or more large flat baking trays with baking parchment.
In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and incorporate well. Add the hazelnuts, cinnamon and vodka.
Mix the baking powder into the flour and start incorporating it into the butter mixture with a spatula. Towards the end, use your hands to knead. Be careful with the amount of flour. You don’t want the dough too sticky, but you don’t want it too firm to shape easily. Make a ball, wrap with cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll between two sheets of baking paper to 1cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter to make cookies and place on a lined baking tray. Use the offcuts of pastry to roll again until you use it all up.
Bake the biscuits until golden, about 25–30 minutes.
Put the biscuits on a wire rack to cool and cover with the white chocolate (coloured as you wish) in pretty patterns. Leave to cool and for the chocolate to harden before storing in airtight containers.
Greek Christmas Food
For more of Irini’s delicious recipes browse through her Greek recipe kits, with Meditereanean classics like Souvlaki and Kleftiko.
Or for more festive food from around the world, check out Cookaway’s range of Christmas Food Boxes.