One of my favourite Christmas cookies to give as gifts. This recipe Spelt Greek Kourabiedes shortbread cookies is my version of the traditional butter cookies. They are very similar to my Snowball cookies from last year with walnuts but this recipe is with almonds. These traditional buttery shortbread Greek cookies are filled with interesting flavours of vanilla, orange and almond and decorated with a layer of icing sugar. A traditional Greek festive biscuit now made with spelt flour. These could also be made with gluten-free flour or swapped back to regular flour. To make it quicker and easier I used store-bought ground almonds, but if these aren't available toast almonds for about 10 minutes at 160˚C and grind them in a food processor.

I have fond childhood memories with my first ever bite into one of these biscuits, it was the most enjoyable mouth-watering sensation. We were fortunate to have Greek neighbour's house, and Tricia the mum always had freshly made Greek cookies when we visited. I used to think, when I grow up I will make these myself.

I made a video for Valentines Day a while back making this recipe in heart shapes. I thought this year I would film for you the original Greek crescent shape but baking them with spelt flour.

Takes = 15 minutes prep. then resting time
Bakes = each tray 15 minutes
Makes = 20 to 25 small crescents or balls

Ingredients

  • Soft Unsalted chopped butter – 250g (1 UK packet)
  • Sifted Icing Sugar – 100g (2/3 cup) plus about 200g extra for dusting
  • Large Egg – 1
  • Spelt Flour (or your choice) – 300g (2.5 cups)
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 teaspoon
  • Orange zest – 1 grated
  • Baking powder – 1 tsp
  • Ground almonds or almond flour – 60g (1/2 cup)
  • Rosewater syrup (optional) – 1 tbsp

Method

Step 1
PREHEAT oven to 160˚C fan and paper line 2 to 3 baking trays.

Step 2
BEAT butter and 100g of icing sugar for 5 to 10 minutes until pale and fluffy.  It will be quicker if using a stand mixer. Then add in vanilla and orange zest then mix until combined. Slowly add the egg to the buttery mixture and beat until combined.

Step 3
SIFT over flour and baking power, then fold in ground almonds to form a dough. You may need to gently bring this together with your floured hands. Wrap in plastic for a few hours or overnight. Make sure the dough is a small thin log about 5cm diameter. In my video my sausage was a little thick.

Step 4
FORM shapes by breaking off a piece of dough and rolling it into a small sausage them bend to form a crescent shape. Ensure the dough is spaced two fingers apart. If the dough has become too soft place the baking tray in the fridge for an hour before baking or the freezer if your tray fits for 30 minutes.

Step 5
BAKE for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Transfer the baked biscuits to a cooling rack and, while still warm, sprinkle lightly with rosewater (if you have some). Then sprinkle with icing sugar, leave to cool completely before sprinkling a final generous dusting of icing sugar. Store the dough in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Store the baked cookies in an airtight container for a few weeks or place in a sealed bag as gifts. Uncooked dough can be frozen for a few months.