Kourambiethes

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    Thirty-six

    2½ inch cookies

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 350°F/175°C
Baking Time 15 to 20 minutes for each of three batches

I am a fool for explosively light, crunchy with nuts, and powdery with sugar coating cookies with a lingering taste of butter. Many nationalities have a variation on this theme, such as Mexican or Portuguese wedding cakes, both made with finely ground pecans, but it is the Greek version (pronounced koo-rahm-BYEH-thes) that pleases me the most, especially this one. After I thought I had perfected the recipe, my protégé and closest friend David Shamah suggested using clarified butter, because many Middle Eastern cookies made with clarified butter have an exceptional melt-in-the-mouth quality. He mentioned that cookbook author and friend Paula Wolfert beats the chilled clarified butter, which lightens the texture of the cookies.

Ingredients

Cookie Dough

Makes 40 ounces/1,134 grams

VOLUME WEIGHT
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) 4 sticks 1 pound 454 grams
slivered almonds 1 cup 4.2 ounces 120 grams
powdered sugar 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) 4.1 ounces 115 grams
2 large egg yolks 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (35 ml) 1.3 ounces 37 grams
pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon (5 ml) . .
brandy, or orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained 3 tablespoons (44 ml) 1.5 ounces 42 grams
bleached all-purpose flour cups (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) 15 ounces 424 grams
baking powder, preferably aluminum free (see Notes) 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon 0.6 ounce 18 grams
powdered sugar, for dusting 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) 4.1 ounces 115 grams

Special Equipment

Two 15 by 12 inch cookie sheets, no preparation needed or lined with parchment

Method

Clarify the Butter

Have ready a fine-mesh or cheesecloth-lined strainer suspended over a medium bowl, preferably silicone (see Notes).

In a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. When the butter looks clear, cook, watching carefully, without stirring. Move aside any foam that forms in order to check the progress of the solids. (If necessary, skim off some of the foam and discard it.) As soon as the milk solids at the bottom barely begin to color (the bubbling will diminish), immediately pour the butter through the strainer into the bowl.

Chill the clarified butter until solid, about 2 hours. Refrigerate or freeze the milk solids for a future use.

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Toast the Almonds

Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until pale gold. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Cool completely and chop medium-fine.

Make the Dough

Unmold the clarified butter onto a cutting board. (If not using a silicone container, dip the container into a bowl of very hot water for a few seconds, or until it can be unmolded.) Cut the butter into ½ inch cubes and set the cubes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater. Add the 1 cup of powdered sugar and, starting on low speed, beat until the sugar mixes into the butter. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and be very creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and brandy, and beat for 1 minute. Add the almonds and beat on low speed for a few seconds to combine thoroughly. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder and, on the lowest speed, add it to the mixture and beat just until incorporated, about 20 seconds. The dough will be soft and slightly tacky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes to firm slightly.

Shape the Dough

Remove one-third (about 13.3 ounces/378 grams) of the dough from the mixer bowl to a small bowl. Cover the mixer bowl and return it to the refrigerator. Pinch off 12 walnut size pieces of dough, 1.1 ounces/31.5 grams each. Roll each piece of dough gently between the palms of your hands into a 1½ inch ball. Do not be concerned if there are small cracks around the edges. Set the dough balls on a cookie sheet a minimum of 1½ inches apart and flatten them to 2 inches wide by ½ inch high.

Bake the Cookies

Bake for 8 minutes. For even baking, rotate the cookie sheet halfway around. Continue baking for 7 to 12 minutes, or just until they begin to brown very lightly.

Cool the Cookies

Set the cookie sheet on a wire rack. Lay a sheet of parchment on the counter and place another wire rack on top. Use a pancake turner to lift the cookies onto the other wire rack.

While each batch of cookies is baking, shape the dough for the next batch.

Dust the Cookies with Powdered Sugar

Spoon the powdered sugar for dusting into a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and coat the cookies. After giving the cookies a first coat, repeat, dusting them with a second coat so that they are heavily coated with the sugar. Let them cool completely. Lift away the rack and sift any remaining powdered sugar onto the parchment. Set the cookies on top of the sugar to coat the bottoms of the cookies.

Store the Cookies

Set the cookies in a container, dusting with powdered sugar between each layer of cookies. To keep moisture from softening the sugar and making it sticky, leave the container uncovered for 8 hours before covering it tightly. This will maintain the powdery sugar coating.

Store

Airtight: room temperature, 1 month; frozen, 6 months (redust with powdered sugar).