Greek almond shortbread (Kourabiethes) with yoghurt and honey custard

When I think about Christmas growing up I think about waking up early, opening presents, rushing to church and then coming home to a stomach-stretching lunch shared with family, whereby every belt buckle and pants button would fly open as soon as that final bite was taken. That is why I wear dresses on Christmas day.

Our lunch table was a mix of traditional Australian-Christmas BBQ and prawns and Greek-Christmas inspired Pastitsio (like Greek lasagne), tiropita, Greek salad and roasted vegetables.

For dessert icing-sugar coated Greek almond shortbread, kourabiethes, would almost always make an appearance. You won’t find many Greek houses not serving kourabiethes at Christmas time.

Truth be told, I never liked them because they are lathered in icing-sugar and could often be really dry. However when combined with a semi-sweet yoghurt and honey custard and only lightly dusted with icing-sugar, I’m all over them!


Yoghurt and honey custard ingredients:

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup yoghurt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour

Method:
  • Heat milk and honey
  • Whisk yoghurt, egg yolk and cornflour
  • Once milk is hot and honey dissolved, add a little of the milk into the yoghurt and egg mixture and whisk until well incorporated
  • Then add the yoghurt and egg mixture to the rest of the milk and cook on low until the mixture thickens – keep stirring to avoid lumps and cook until flour cooks out
  • Once you can put your finger through the back of the mixing spoon and the custard maintains the line, it’s ready.

Kourabiethes:

Ingredients:
  • 250g butter
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100g chopped almonds
  • 25g vanilla sugar
  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon orange rind.

Method:
  • Pre-heat oven to 160 degree fan-forced and line a baking tray
  • Beat butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy – give it a mix with a spoon first and then use the beater to avoid the icing sugar going everywhere
  • Add egg yolk, orange zest, vanilla sugar and almonds
  • Gradually add the flours (sifted) until well combined
  • Bring the mixture together on a floured surface by kneading it lightly
  • Roll small amounts into balls and squash into a biscuit shape – traditionally you can roll them into a crescent moon shape but I prefer them as circles. The mixture can be crumbly so work carefully
  • Cook for approximately 20 minutes or until starting to brown and then left cool
  • Dust with icing sugar – I don’t use a lot but traditionally, they are completely covered in icing sugar.

Interesting Greek Christmas fact: In Greek Merry Christmas is 'Kala Christougenna’.


Only 25 sleeps until Christmas! 

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