Kourabiedes (κουραμπιές) Greek Festival Cookies – Gluten Free!
My mom made these delicious Greek Festival Cookies every Christmas. I used to sneak a half a dozen or so and hoard them, I mean, hide them, in our dining room buffet cabinet. I thought I was being so sneaky, but those darn powdery sugar cookies leave quite a trail.
They should come with a warning label that says, “Eat over plate and have napkin standing by.”
Kourabiedes (pronounced: kou-ra-be-ETH-es) are traditionally served in mass quantities during the holiday season and for special occasions in Greece. At Christmas time, they’re baked with a clove on top of each cookie.
We have much reason to celebrate! My lovely cousin came for dinner and brought her wonderful fiancé so we could meet him! Any excuse to break out the kourbiedes is a good excuse, but this batch was extra special.
Somewhat similar to a shortbread or butter cookie (typically, one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour), this Greek cookie is also made with brandy, crushed almonds and confectioners (powdered) sugar. Even more confectioners sugar is sifted on top. A lot of it. Don’t skimp.
I always make these in the shape of a crescent (Greek tradition…and the way mom and Yia-yia made them!), but they can also be rolled into balls.
Cupcake papers work great for the crescent size if you are taking them somewhere. At home, I store them (after they’ve cooled of course) in a covered 9×13 pan or our glass-domed cake stand. They look purdy in there.
Ingredients really do matter. Especially the butter and the gluten free flour. I am IN LOVE WITH “Better Batter” gluten free flour blend (available on Amazon.com).
“Better Batter Gluten Free Flour is a truly cup for cup substitute for regular flour in most regular recipes. Accepted for: Vegetarian/Vegan, OU Kosher, Feingold I & II Ingredients: Rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, potato flour, xanthan gum, pectin (lemon derivative).”
Feel free to research the best butter for baking (it’s largely a matter of taste). In America, Land of Lakes Ultra Creamy unsalted is rated the number one in taste by America’s Test Kitchen. That being said, European butters tend to be the most popular for baking if you can find them in America. I love the Irish brand, Kerrygold.
Gluten free alcohol can be tricky. Most plain brandy is gluten free. If you don’t have a gluten free brandy, you can use a gluten free ouzo. Just check the website and/or ingredients of the brand you have or are shopping for. I should really have said that backwards because non-Greek Americans most likely do not have ouzo in the liquor cabinet, but are more likely to have plain brandy!
Here’s a crazy tip, if you need to avoid the alcohol all together, substitute orange juice. That’s what my Yia-yia always did. And she was actually born and raised in Greece, so it must be okay.
Kourabiedes (κουραμπιές) Greek Festival Cookies
About two dozen (24) cookies.
- 1 lb unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 c confectioners sugar
- 2 Tbsp gluten free brandy (or a gluten free ouzo)
- 2 tsp vanilla (or almond) extract
- 6 c gluten free flour blend (look for blend with rice flours, tapioca starch, potato starch and flour)
- 1 tsp xanthun gum
- 1/2 c crushed almonds (food processor works great)
- 1 lb confectioners sugar for coating
- 2 doz whole cloves
- Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
- Using an electric mixer (or better yet, KitchenAid free standing mixer!), beat the butter with one cup of the confectioners sugar until it is whipped and creamy. It should be almost white, light and fluffy.
- Slowly add the egg yolks while beating continuously.
- Add the brandy and vanilla extract.
- Add the crushed almonds,.
- Slowly add the flour, one cup at a time, while continuously beating on slow speed (or with a wooden spoon) just until dough is firm.
- Roll into about a 1 1/2" ball and then shape into a crescent shape on an ungreased cookie sheet.
- Stick one clove in the center of each crescent. (Can remove before eating if you wish.)
- Bake for 15-20 minutes (depends on actual temp of your oven) until lightly golden.
- Sift remaining confectioners sugar over the warm cookies.
- Let them cool completely and sift more sugar over the cookies until they are fully coated. (If you rolled balls instead, roll them in the sugar)
- Place individual cookies in cupcake papers and store them in an air-tight container.