Prep time: 40 minutes
About this recipe
Inspired by my client’s nice/Nice Christmas cookie ritual, these are my Kourabiedes. These sweet almond shortbreads are synonymous with celebrating Christmas – they are a traditional feature of any Greek festive table. With their thick, snowy coating of icing sugar, I like to think of these as Nice biscuits on steroids. These shortbreads are delicately fragranced with rose but here they have added festive oomph from my addition of advocaat; it gives a gentle, sweet egginess, which is always very welcome at this time of year. As for leaving these out for Santa? No chance. Just like my client, when I was a child I kept these for myself and gave Santa the Maryland cookies instead.
- 120g whole almonds
- 225g butter (salted is actually fine; if yours is unsalted add a pinch of salt)
- 60g caster sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons advocaat
- 20g cornflour
- 285g plain flour
- 200ml rosewater (approximately, for dipping the shortbreads)
- 200g icing sugar (approximately, for dredging the shortbreads)
Makes 18-20 shortbreads
- Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Spread the almonds in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes, until they start to smell rich and nutty. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature down to 170C/ gas mark 3. Tip the almonds into a food processor and blitz until coarsely chopped. Set aside while you make the shortbread dough.
- Beat the butter using an electric mixer until it is very soft. Add the sugar and cream together on high speed until pale and positively billowing – you will need to mix for a good 5 minutes to achieve this. Mix in the egg yolk and the advocaat.
- Add the dry ingredients; first the chopped almonds, followed by the cornflour. Then, either by hand or with the mixer running on a slightly slower speed, add the flour spoonful by spoonful until you have a soft, firm dough. Using your hands, shape the dough into a mound within the bowl, cover with clingfilm and chill for 10 minutes or so – you just want to firm up the butter so that the shortbreads are easier to shape.
- Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Take your dough out of the fridge. Break off little pieces of dough about the size of a small new potato and roll them like so. Place each mini mound onto your baking sheet – you should be able to get them all on one tray, evenly and well-spaced. With a gentle hand, slightly flatten the top of each shortbread before popping the tray into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, taking care not to let the biscuits brown – they should be a pale colour with no more than the faintest golden Christmas glow. They will also feel ever so slightly soft to the touch. Leave the shortbreads on the tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Now create your dip ‘n’ dredge assembly line. Pour the rosewater into a bowl. Sift the icing sugar into another bowl. Dip each shortbread into the rosewater (submerge but don’t soak) then toss immediately into the icing sugar – each biscuit needs to have a full fleecy coat of icing sugar. Put each biscuit back onto the baking parchment and give them a final snowy sifting of sugar. Pile up and present on your finest bone china plate. These Christmas shortbreads will see you into the new year, as they will keep for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container.