Kourabiedes are popular Greek butter cookies topped with heaps of powdered sugar and made for special occasions like weddings, Christmas, name days, and any day that ends in “y”. My earliest memories of kourabiedes aren’t the sweet taste of the cookie. In fact, I don’t even remember taking a bite out of one when I was younger. Instead, my favorite memories come from turning wide-eyed at the wonderful white mounds of kourabiedes on display at both my Yiayia Metos and Yiayia Saltas’ homes.
Yiayia Stella Saltas has a habit of doing everything earlier than most people. She arrives early when she goes out. Whenever she hosts a party, she preps and bakes before you’re even invited to whatever event it is. When it comes to kourabiedes, you can bet she is always ready to serve them at a moment’s notice. No matter the occasion or how many cookies are needed, there are always enough.
Her basement was always so full of Tupperware-stuffed kourabiedes, I thought she was one of Santa’s elves. Whenever we visited yiayia’s house, and after exhausting ourselves from playing tag and swinging on swings, my cousins and I would tiptoe downstairs and break into the containers of kourabiedes to grab however many cookies could fit into our hands. I was the youngest of all the Saltas cousins (until Mikey was born when I was six), so my tiny hands could usually only hold one or two at most. But that didn’t bother me, I grabbed the cookies only to blow the powdered sugar in the faces of my cousins. It’s a good thing I was faster than all of them.
When I was five, my yiayia and namesake, Helen Metos, lost her ten-year battle to breast cancer. I’ll never forget how she fought her pain with a smile, and always showed persistent love to me and her other seven grandkids (my mother was pregnant with Mikey when my yiayia passed away). She was quite the cook, too, and many of her recipes were published in local newspapers. A much-loved recipe of hers was her version of kourabiedes. Give them a try and you’ll understand why. The dough is soft and made with powdered sugar, the cookies are rolled in powdered sugar hot out of the oven, and when cooled, dusted with even more powdered sugar. When finished, the cookie should look a ball of snow.
Christmas was my yiayia’s favorite day to serve kourabiedes, because it is also my papou (grandpa) Chris’ name day. It’s my favorite time to make them too because it will always remind me of both my yiayia’s. That’s what these cookies are all about to me. These are so good I guarantee they will melt in your mouth (and the powdered sugar will cause you to think you can’t breathe!). But it’s the memories that come from who you share your kourabiedes with that makes kourabiedes truly special.
- 1 lb sweet butter
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 cup chopped almonds
- 2 egg yolks
- 5 cups cake flour
- 2 oz. brandy
- 1 cup powdered sugar for the topping
- Keep the butter at room temperature about 2-3 hours to soften before using.
- Place butter in a large bowl and whip well, until white and fluffy (about 10 min-15 min). This is an important step!
- Add powdered sugar and beat until light colored. Add the egg yolks and beat together thoroughly.
- Sift flour and baking powder and slowly fold into butter mixture. Add the almonds and brandy and knead well. The mixture should be soft, but shouldn’t stick to your hands.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and roll dough and form into small round balls or crescent shapes. Repeat until all the dough is used.
- Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes, until the bottom of cookies are golden brown.
- Remove from oven. While the cookies are still warm, roll them into a plate of powdered sugar. Place on a cooling rack to cool. Dust with another layer of powdered sugar. Enjoy!
- The cookies can also be stored in airtight containers for up to two weeks if kept in a cool place. You can also freeze the batches and serve later.