Christmas baking: Kourabiedes & Foinikota
With Christmas just around the corner, we are all prepared to take a kilo or two. How can one resist when the table is always piled with a wide assortment of festive Christmas desserts, cookies and candies? If you feel like impressing your guests with homemade Cypriot Christmas delights, put your apron on and get ready for action! Sugar-dusted kourabiedes and delectable foinikota will make the best treat for you and your guests.
Kourabiedes are delicious biscuits made with flour, good quality butter, almonds, icing sugar, and a drizzle of rosewater at the end to accentuate their scent. Kourabiedes are shortbread biscuits covered with icing sugar. Different versions and shapes filled with a mixture of nuts and spices can be found all over the island.
Kourabiedes might be associated with Christmas time; but truth be told, they have been the traditional treat offered to guests at weddings, baptisms and celebrations throughout the year to this day. Nowadays, thanks to the development of gastronomy and confectionery, we may find several recipes that bring together techniques and materials of old and modern times. Yet, all new versions stem from the traditional recipe that we all adore.
Foinikota, the Cyprus kourabiedes are made in a similar way to traditional kourabiedes. For Foinikota you do not use almonds in the dough, and instead of butter you can use vegetable shortening spry. The balls are flattened and filled with chopped dates, nuts and spices like cinnamon and ground cloves. Foinikota are named after Foinikia, which is the Cypriot word for dates. Using vegetable shortening spry instead of milk butter makes Foinikota vegan, hence eatable during the 40-day fasting period.
Let’s get baking!
For about 265 kourabiedes of 20 gr
1050 gr vegetable margarine
150 gr butter ghee
600 gr icing sugar
5 gr vanilla
3 kg farina or self-raising flour
20 gr baking powder
20 gr orange zest – 20 gr mandarin zest – 10 gr lemon zest
15 gr ground cinnamon & 5 gr cloves
600 gr baked ground almonds
150 gr flower water for spraying
750 gr icing sugar for sprinkling
Mixing time: 1’ low speed; after flour addition: 2’ low speed; after almond addition: 1’ low speed. Shaping: 20 gr. Baking time: 30’ > 175⁰C!
Whisk the margarine, butter, sugar and vanilla until fluffy. Then add the flour, baking powder, zest, spices and stir for a while. Add the almonds and stir until a homogeneous dough is formed. Form round shapes and place them on a non-stick paper in a baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven. As soon as they are cooked, spray them with flower water and sprinkle with icing sugar.
After they have cooled, roll them in icing sugar to cover all parts.
If you wish to make kourabiedes with vegetable margarine only, you need to use less flour.