Saturday, December 19, 2009

December 20th-Kourabiethes

Happy Sunday morning! I'm over flowing with gratitude and joy, thank you for your emails, keep them coming.

Last night's holiday party was in a beautiful Vermont home decorated with fragrant Christmas trees, a gingerbread village, and the punch bowl centerpiece that surely packed a punch. The food was splendid and the company was engaging. Big thanks to Lauren and Dave for the invitation and throwing a memorable party.

Nina Contos was my dad's mother. She was an amazing cook, mostly I remember her coffee cake and Kourabiethes. Kourabiethes are a Greek New Year cookies and they are definitely a Contos family tradition. I have a copy of Nina's original recipe which talks about heating the oven just right with wood. Wonderful! Similar to my life now here in Vermont. My mom even had a super large bowl just for baking theses cookies because she made so many batches at once. Sharing this cookie and recipe with others has long been our tradition. Every Christmas and Greek Easter a tissue paper bow tied bundle of this cookie was baked and shared with family and friends. About 4 years ago I added my own twist on the cookie by adding cocoa powder. If recipes could be family members this would be one. Here in VT I have my own following of friends that look forward to this cookie baked in my kitchen.

Yield: 3 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoon Brandy
2 ½ cups flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350ยบ
In a bowl mix the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy.
Mix in egg yolk and brandy.
Then add sifted flour, salt, and baking powder, a little at a time. Knead well until dough is smooth.
Divide dough in half. Mix in cocoa powder into one half, mix until incorporated.
Take small pieces of dough and shape into balls using both even amounts of the chocolate and the plain dough to create a marble effect. Shape the size of a small egg or shape into crescents, or into small pears and insert a clove in the top of each.
Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake cookies 18-20 minutes.
Roll Kourabiethes while warm in powdered sugar. Then sift sugar over as they must be very well coated.

Variation: You may add 1/2 cup blanched and finely chopped almonds to the dough.

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