Friday, 26 February 2010

ONE KOURABIES TWO KOURABIEDES, and lots of PECANS!



Kourabiedes are Greek cookies made with butter and almonds, then sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are served at weddings and holidays and on any other occasion you want. Any time is a good time for a kourabies (grammatically speaking, kourabies is the singular form of the noun, and kourabiedes is the plural). Deviating a bit from tradition, I present you with a version of kourabiedes made with pecans. Pecans are native to south and central North America, therefore they are not used in traditional Greek cooking. However, good cooks like to experiment, and so pecan kourabiedes were created somewhere I imagine in the southern USA. The recipe was given to me by my mother, who discovered it during one of her annual winter trips to Florida. Wherever my mother goes, you can bet there are recipe swaps happening. One day recently, mom and I made these together. Here is the recipe:





Ingredients:

1 lb unsalted butter, left to soften at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour 
3 cups chopped pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup Cointreau
more confectioner's powdered sugar, about two cups

Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
  • Shift the flour with the baking powder.
  • In your processor and using the paddle attachment, beat the butter. The success of the kourabiedes depends on butter that is well beaten and fluffy. So keep beating and stop around the ten-minute mark.
  • Add the sugar and continue beating for a long time. About three weeks.
  • Add the vanilla extract, and keep beating for maybe another three weeks. Six weeks later...
  • Change to the dough hook and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing for two to three minutes until a soft dough is formed. After the flour is added it's important not to overbeat your mixture.
  • Add the pecans, and beat for another minute.
  • Form into small round balls and place on baking sheets.
  • Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until pale golden. Let cool for ten minutes.
  • Sprinkle the cookies with the Cointreau. You can use another type of brandy if you like. I chose Cointreau because I like the orange flavour and because I usually have it on hand. A good way of sprinkling whatever type of spirit you are going to use is to pour it in a small spray bottle and then go at it.
  • Spread 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar on a large plate. Roll each cookie in the sugar, and place on a rack to cool. Do this with all the cookies, adding more sugar to the plate as necessary. 
  • Sift additional sugar on top of the cookies and let rest for 3 to 4 hours. Carefully pack the cookies in cookie boxes, spreading a piece of waxed paper between each layer. They should keep for about one month.