Recipe Flash: Kourabiedes

MENU TO HERALD IN A NEW YEAR: Merguez Sausage with French Lentils; Beet and Arugula Salad; Kourabiedes

ONE YEAR AGO: Celeriac Frittata
I’d been wanting to make these cookies for a while. In many ways, they’re quite similar to the Snowballs, that confectioners sugar-coated ball of pecan goodness. Both cookies are based on nuts and flour, and both have a minimal amount of sugar in the dough; the sweetness comes from layers of confectioners sugar sifted over the cookies as soon as they are out of the oven. As soon as I began to read up on kourabiedes, I found this similarity wasn’t that remarkable. There are numerous variations of this cookie, from many different cultures and related to all kinds of holidays and celebrations.
But kourabiedes, in particular, are meant for New Year’s. With the spiciness of cloves and the soft citrus-y hint of cognac, these cookies crumble as you eat them in a way that, for whatever reason, must bode well for the year to come. I took my first stab at making them this week, and though I think I’ll experiment with them in the months to come, I was excited about my attempt.

In other news, Phoebe and I have an extra BGSK calendar we’re dying to give away to a reader before we get any further into 2010. It features 12 pictures of baked goods, most of which have been featured on the blog. Not to give too much away, but we made this cake the mouthwatering cover. For a chance to win the calendar, leave a comment about your most traumatizing cooking disaster. We’ll choose randomly from those who participate and announce the lucky winner next week. Good luck!
From my kitchen, wishing you a sweet new year, to yours,


Makes about 60 cookies

1 cup shortening
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon brandy or cognac
pinch cloves
1/2 cup walnuts
2 1/2 cups flour
about 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar for sifting over

Preheat the oven to 300°F

Grind the walnuts: combine the nuts and 2 tablespoons of flour in a food processer. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground, not pasty. Set aside.

Beat butter and confectioners sugar for 1 minute, until fluffy. Add the egg yolk, brandy, and clove. Beat in remaining flour and walnuts just until mixed–don’t overmix.

Shape a scant tablespoon of dough in a ball. Flatten it out and elongate the ends slightly. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 12-16 minutes, until the cookies firm but colored only on the bottom. Remove the tray and set it on a rack.

Sift a coat of confectioners sugar all over the hot cookies. Let cool for about 15 minutes, then add a second coat of sugar. Let cool completely. Keep in an airtight container.

  • Sarah L

    once, and one of you might remember this, phoebe had a dinner party in high school. this was obviously before I discovered the art of baking. i had decided for my first foray to make brownies for the event and to prove my competence in the kitchen. i had until then as you know been the girl who was destined to bring wine forever so this was a big deal. while the brownies were in the oven i realized they were failing to actually form. oops, i left out the eggs. frantically and without much time before the dinner party, i cracked two eggs into the watery mix hoping it would cure the problem. however, because the mix was hot, the eggs immediately turned into egg whites sitting on top of chocolate soup. mmmm. anyway, i brought wine. however, i have since graduated to pecan bars and other complimented delicacies. yay me! love you both and hope i get a chance to come close to the holy grail of calanders!

  • Michelle Johns

    OK…I didn't know you in high school, and I have not been following you too terribly long…but I do find you both and your blog a true inspiration. I have known for quite some time that I loved food, you could tell that by looking at me :), but I had never spent much time creating food. I was always really good at following recipes, but would not venture far from them…but in recent weeks your lives and blog have inspired me to step beyond the receipe and create. I look forward to cooking each day now. I look forward to finding new items to cook with. I look forward to fulfilling a passion that has been living inside for a long time and just waiting to come out. Thank you for being inspiring…and my husband thanks you too.

    Happy New Year!!

    Michelle Johns

  • Nicole

    Early in our marriage, I was attempting to impress my husband with my baking prowess. The recipe called for me to blind bake the pie crust using pie weights. I rolled out the crust, placed it in the pan and dropped in the pie weights. As I baked the crust I wondered how this was all going to work…needless to say, not quite the way I planned. When the crust was removed from the oven my husband and I, armed with tweezers, individually removed each pie weight. I bet he was impressed! Ha.

  • Kate

    I'm pretty sure my sister and I were baking for a cookie and Champagne New Year's party, when we made the aforementioned delicious snowballs. And, as Cara pointed out, these cookies rely on copious amounts of confectioners sugar on top to provide sweetness. Unfortunately, due to poor labeling in our pantry, we baked these cookies, and baked and topped them with cornstarch instead! Needless to say, the cornstarch cookies turned more or less to glue once you bit into them. They were disgusting.

    For full disclosure, Cara is my sister and she and I have both become better labelers. But, despite the terrible cookies, it was one of the funnier and silly moments we shared in our kitchen! And, now as I sit taking a break from writing my thesis, the hope of a delicious calendar arriving in the mail (maybe cookies would suffice) makes the work ahead so much more bearable!

  • Stephanie

    I <3 you guys! I saw you on Food Network and have been an avid reader ever since! Last year I was in a pinch and trying to whip up dessert for my boyfriend's parents when they stopped by. He convinced me to make some quick brownies, but I realized half way through that I had no eggs. His mom, trying to be helpful, told me to add a big glop of mayo in place of each egg. When I put it in the oven, the mayo melted into oil – thus effectively deep frying the brownie and what I got was a hard, fried, solid shingle of chocolate brownie with holes in it. My boyfriend's mom felt so bad that she still tried to eat it!

  • seattleDee

    As a new bride entertaining HIS FAMILY I tried out an ambitious menu that taxed my skills and scheduling ability. Rushing to thicken a thin sauce, I popped a pyrex baking dish fresh from the oven onto a hot electric burner. Not such a good plan. First came a loud CRACK! followed by the rolled/stuffed chicken breasts, artichokes and a sticky white wine sauce running over the stove top and onto the floor. While THE IN-LAWS sat, out of sight in the dining room, I threw a dish towel over the mess on the floor and plated and served the solid ingredients . We were SO lucky no one crunched on a sliver of glass – and I still haven't told this story to anyone else involved in that dinner.

  • Kelsey

    well, this isn't really a cooking disaster, but it was really embarrassing/funny mess up! instead of holding the top of the salt shaker closed when i was pouring more salt into it while it was upside down, i completely let the salt flow right through and out of it and onto the floor! it lasted for maybe 30 seconds before i realized there was a pile of salt on the floor!

  • Colleen

    I need that calendar! I really have two cooking disasters, both of which were featured on my blog. Does that mean I get two entries?

    1. The super bleeds on my sofa while I cook pralines on the stove:

    2. On screwing up hard-cooked eyes:

  • preventionrd

    They look wonderful! I wish I possessed some ounce of baking skill!

  • Caroline

    This looks absolutely amazing… I will have to try this recipe!! xo

  • Callie Siegel

    Since I don't cook very often…this one isn't too bad…but I just wanted a chance to blame Jill. So I was making brake fast dinner for yom kippur and having about 10 people over (including Cara of BGSK fame!). I decided to make a persian rice dish. The recipe called for green onions…so i called up my trusty friend Jill (BGSK sister) to ask if a green onion was the same as a yellow onion since i didn't see green onions anywhere in the onion section…and she said yes. Many tears later from chopping 6 large yellow onions Cara informed me when she came over that a green onion is in fact a scallion. Needless to say there was plenty of other food as their always is a a good brake fast…and the dish was still edible just VERY oniony!

  • Stephanie D

    This one wins… Phoebe I don't know if you even know this…

    A few years ago I was dating a boy which I guess I wanted to impress with my cooking prowess and I spent all day basting-on-the hour-chicken wings which I had created a rub for and two different varieties of sauce, a bourbon glaze and a more traditional BBQ… I was rushing to get to the party at his apartment and changed into my cutest football watching outfit: a white shirt, my pink jacket and jeans… the wings were barely our of the oven and I put them into a pyrex bowl with foil, then into double bags. I hustled up sixth avenue and I heard a cracking noise. The glass, going from super to to the super cold air cracked (it was pyrex!!!) shattered and before I could notice fell through the double bags and onto the sidewalk, splashing all the way up my jacket, bbq sauce and glass pieces… in a panic, I ran home leaving the steaming wings and sauce on the sidewalk, changed clothes and ran up the street, as I was walking by the disaster site, there were two things observed that changed my disapointed and frantic mood: 1. People were stopping on the street and looking up…. they thought that someone in a Super Bowl argument had thrown the wings out of the window of the apt buidling above to see if the wings could fly and 2. A homeless man was picking through the pieces licking sauce off his fingers…

  • Colleen

    Hi Ladies,

    Just wanted to let you know that I named you as one of my seven blogs to watch in 2010 in my most recent post. Thanks for all the fantastic recipes and narratives!

  • Anonymous

    As a young student teacher, I invited one of the "real teachers" – a cute male type – to dinner. I put ham & beans into a crockpot before school. Later, as I ran up the stairs to my small apartment, I smelled something very unpleasant. The beans had burned & were stuck to the pot. I tried to salvage the beans in the center, but they had a "smoky" flavor. Not good! Maybe that's why the relationship with Mr. Sixth Grade Teacher didn't endure. Sigh.
    Martha in KS

  • Katie

    First, I have to say that I love this blog! I saw you on the Barefoot Contessa, and have been following ever since! So, here's my food disaster: Once my fiend and I were making cookies when we were probably 8 or 10. We were trying to make sugar cookies and we mis-read the recipe, so instead of putting in 1/4 TEASPOON of salt, we put in 1/4 CUP of salt!! The cookies tasted so bad even the dog wouldn't eat them!

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