Here in the United States, cookies are the most popular treat during Christmastime. We were curious about holiday sweets in other countries, so we reached out to several of our international distributors and Wilton Method Instructors to learn more! In this 12-part series, a different country and traditional dessert will be featured each day. Today’s blog and recipe comes from Eva Armatas-Korellis.
Christmastime in Greece is one of the most festive holidays in the country. Christmas begins on Christmas Eve, where children will go from house to house providing cookies (kourambiethes and melomakarona) and sing Greek Christmas carols. Baking is a must in a Greek household for the Christmas season.
Beginning on Christmas Eve, and all the way through the Epiphany (January 6th), the 12 days of Christmas are celebrated, and a dish of Greek cookies are customary to bring over to the house you are visiting. It is also customary to light a fire beginning on Christmas Eve, all the way though the Epiphany, as a sign to keep the goblins from entering the house through the chimney, as Christ wasn’t baptized until the Day of the Epiphany. Presents are normally opened on New Year’s Day, also known as St. Basil’s Day, although some households do open presents on Christmas Day.
On Christmas Day, families will eat Christopsomo (Christmas Bread), which is a sweet bread usually engraved with the family’s initials, the sign of the cross, or a symbol of the main profession of the head of the household. The largest Christmas tree is also lit right in the village square of Athens. Christmas trees and decorations aren’t to be taken down until after January 6th. Many Greek households in the United States follow the same traditions as they do in Greece, and therefore, kourambiethes are a common delicacy that are only baked around the Christmas season.
Kourambiethes (Greek Christmas Almond Butter Cookies)
Makes around 75 cookies
1lb unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
3 egg yolks
1 shot cognac
1 tsp vanilla extract
A handful of toasted chopped almonds
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 box Swans Down cake flour (use less than a box for 1 batch)
Half of a bag of confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beat butter and ¾ cup confectioner’s sugar until consistency is very creamy, light, and fluffy. I let the stand mixer run for at least 25 minutes.
Add eggs, cognac, vanilla and almonds to mixture and continue beating. Mix baking powder with one cup of flour and add to mixture.
Keep adding flour as needed until the mixture is a soft dough consistency. Shape dough into small round balls – smaller than a golf ball or bigger if desired. After placing on a cookie sheet, flatten each dough ball just a little.
Bake for 30-35 minutes in middle oven rack. When they are done baking, take the cookies out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
Sift confectioner’s sugar on wax paper and place cookies on wax paper, then sift more confectioner’s sugar on the cookies.
Place cookies in paper baking cups. I add some hollies and berries sprinkles to give it a Christmas touch.