Photograph © Peter Broadbent
If you don’t already know, Papa G aka George Psarias aka my Dad is a fabulous chef and award winning restaurateur. Here, he brings you Greek Almond Cakes (Kourabiedes), a must at any Greek Christmas. Do try them and wow your guest this year! My kids are obsessed with them too!
A bit of background: these almond cakes are one of the most loved Greek desserts. Traditionally, they are made during Christmas and New Year’s Day and are also served at engagements, weddings, christenings, birthdays and name-days.
At Christmas, cloves are placed on the top to symbolise the spice brought by the three wise men to Baby Jesus.
450g unsalted butter or margarine
225g caster sugar
1tsp vanilla essence
3 organic and free range eggs
4 dessertspoons brandy
750g plain flour
1 level spoon baking powder
225g ground almonds and lightly toasted
pinch of salt
few drops of rose water (optional)
350g icing sugar
35-40 cloves (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4.
Beat the butter with a balloon whisk or in a mixer until light and creamy. Add the sugar and beat the mixture until white and light. Add the egg yolks one by one, the vanilla essence and the brandy. Sieve the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and add the almonds and the pinch of salt. Add this to the butter mixture. Knead lightly and if needed, add more flour unitl the dough is soft and rather firm and does not stick to the fingers. Be careful not to over knead the dough as the almond cakes will become hard and not light.
Form into balls the size of a medium egg and make into stars, crescents or any shape you like. Flatten slightly on to a tray lined with greased baking paper and keep them 1cm apart. Stick a clove if you like, on the top of each cake before baking. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until firm and crisp and lightly coloured but not browned.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes and sprinkle each one with a little rose water. Cover the base of a large cake plate with a layer of icing sugar about 1/2 cm thick, then place the almond cakes on top and cover.
Delicious, sweet treats the entire family will love!
Photograph ©Peter Broadbent.
Recipe ©George Psarias.