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Kourabiedes & Melomakarona aka Greek Xmas Cookies!

At Christmas time, there is no household in Greece  that doesn’t have “Kourabiedes” (aka Greek Xmas butter & almond cookies) and “Melomakarona” (aka Greek Xmas honey & spice cookies). They are an absolute tradition I have grown up with, and happily devour them every single Xmas holiday

In this post, super-chef and food stylist Christina Vlahoulis, shares her own twist for these recipes, which I’m quite confident you will find delicious!

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Kourabiedes (Greek Xmas butter & almond cookies)

Makes 30-35 cookies

250 gr butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon powder
¼ cup cognac or brandy
1 tsp orange zest
1 cup almonds, toasted and crushed
500 gr all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
150 gr powdered sugar to sprinkle over the cookies

Method: Preheat oven to 160°. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside, as well. In a food processor, add the butter and sugar and beat until creamy. Add the eggs and continue beating until mixed thoroughly. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, cognac or brandy, orange zest and crushed almonds and continue beating for a minute. Start adding the flour mixture – two tablespoons at a time – and mix everything together until you have used all the flour. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flour, one tablespoon at a time.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for 1-2 minutes. Place the dough on a floured surface and sprinkle a little more flour on top of that and then, roll it out to a thickness of one centimeter. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter and place the biscuits on the lined tray with the baking paper. Bake the cookies for 20-25 minutes until slightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes. Place the cookies on a flat plate. Take the powdered sugar, place it in a sifter and dust the cookies until the tops are completely covered.

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Melomakarona (Greek Xmas honey & spice cookies) 

Makes 40-50 cookies.

For the Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 pieces of orange peel

For the Melomakarona

1/2 cup olive oil
120 gr butter softened at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup cognac or brandy
2 tsp orange zest
500 gr flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp clove powder
¼ tsp nutmeg powder
½ tsp salt

Topping

200 gr walnuts finely chopped
cinnamon powder

To make the Syrup: This NEEDS to be made while the cookies are baking, so that it is ready when they come out of the oven. Put all the syrup ingredients in a medium saucepan, stir together and bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes until slightly thickened, discarding any foam that forms on top. Remove the cinnamon stick and orange peels. Lower the heat to a low setting and keep syrup warm until cookies are ready.

To make the Melomakarona: Preheat oven to 170°. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and salt and set aside, as well. In the bowl of food processor, beat olive oil, butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add orange juice, cognac or brandy and orange zest and beat until well-combined. Start adding flour mixture, two tablespoons at a time, and mix everything together until you have used all the flour mixture. If the dough is too sticky, add a little more flou,r one tablespoon at a time.

Roll the cookies into small balls and place on the baking tray, lined with the baking paper and, with the back of a fork, press down to slightly flatten the cookies. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and firm. Remove from the oven and dip them – a few at a time – into the warm syrup for 1 minute, flipping them over to soak and coat evenly. Finally, layer the cookies on a flat plate and sprinkle with the chopped walnuts and cinnamon.

Merry Christmas to All !

Recipe food styling and cookie photos by Christina Vlahoulis, portraits by Anna Tagkalou

 

 

 

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