These Cypriot Kourabiedes are similar to the Greek ones but they are made with spry shortening, which makes them soft and fluffy.
Phinikota are kourabiedes with a filling of dates. The ancient name in Greek for the date tree “φοίνιξ = phoenix”, scientific name Phoenix dactylifera. In the Cypriot dialect a date is called phiniki or phinitzi.
Christmas is nearly here and in Greece melomakarona and kourabiedes are the most popular among the sweets we make. It’s impossible for us to imagine Christmas without them.
In a few days the platters will be full of them and the bakeries and confectioneries will have “white mountains” of kourabiedes, for those who do not have the time to prepare their own.
The Greek recipe is usually made with ewes’ butter but in Cyprus we usually use spry shortening, which although well known in Cyprus, it is unknown in Greece.
In October when I visited Cyprus, during my last minute shopping I remembered to buy some spry, brandy and blossom water to make my kourabiedes.
I tried to find information about spry in the internet and the only thing I found is this. So I guess, if you can’t find spry, you can substitute it with Crisco.
In Greece, if I do not have spry, I have adapted the recipe making it with a mixture of ewe’s milk butter and a vegetable oil shortening using some Ariston vegetable shortening with 5% butter.
Last year I made two kinds of kourabiedes. The first one is the traditional one and the other is phinikota, which are filled with dates, almonds and spices.
If you want to try both, just keep half the dough without the almonds and follow the steps given at the end. The dose of the filling is for all the amount of kourabiedes, so you will have to make half the filling.
Phinikota – Cypriot Kourabiedes filled with Dates and Almonds
Phinikota or Finikota are made the same way as the traditional kourabiedes but without the almonds in the dough. The balls are flattened and filled with chopped dates, nuts and spices.
Phinikota take their name from the Cypriot word “Φοινίκια”, which means dates.
- ½ kilo of dates, stoned and finely chopped
- 1- 1 ½ cups of roasted almonds, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp group cinnamon
- 3 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp rose or citrus water
- Place butter dates, almonds, sugar, cinnamon and cloves in a small pan and put over moderate heat until butter melts. Lower heat and continue stirring until the mixture softens. Add rose water and stir two or three times.
- Place the mixture in a bowl and let it cool.
- Meantime prepare the dough as given for the traditional kourabiedes.
- Take a small amount of dough and flatten it with your hands. Add some filling and cover it to enclose the filling. Shape them into small balls.
- Place the folded part on the baking tray.
- To make the crescents, after flattening the dough, form the filling into a cord and enclose with the dough. Shape them into a crescent, making the edges pointy and bringing them forward.
- Proceed with the baking and coating procedure as described in the recipe card.
This year, as I did not have some of the ingredients of the above recipe, I made them with dates, filled with two roasted almonds, with skin on, in each. They came out so delicious!
The hump over the kourabiedes or the phinikota
When my mother used to make kourabiedes or phinikota, she always made a hump on top, which I remember from my childhood and from time to time I do this as well.
I really don’t know why she did this, but it guess it was probably to make them look prettier.
To make the hump, after forming the kourabiedes into balls, we take the kourabies in one hand and with the other hand, using the index finger and the middle finger, we press the upper part, until the hump is formed.
Cypriot Kourabiedes and Phinikota
These Cypriot Kourabiedes are similar to the Greek ones but they are made with spry shortening, which makes them soft and fluffy. Phinikota are kourabiedes filled with dates.
- 500 grams spry
- 120 grams (1 cup) icing (confectioner’s) sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 112 grams (1/2 cup) brandy
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 960 grams (8 cups) all-purpose flour
- 300 grams (2 cups) blanched and roasted almonds, cut in small pieces
- Citrus blossom or rose water
- 500 grams icing sugar, for coating
- Beat the spry with the icing sugar on high speed, for about ten minutes.
- Reduce speed and add egg yolks one at a time, and beat until mixture is light and fluffy.
- Dissolve the baking soda with brandy and orange juice and add it to the mixture. Beat for 2 – 3 minutes. Add vanilla.
- Change the mixer paddle to the dough hook or the K beater or start kneading by hand and add flour gradually. When the dough is ready, it should be as if it needs more flour but should not be sticky on your hands.
- Add the almonds and mix (see note above for Phinikota).
- Take a small amount of dough (about 30 grams) and shape them round, oval or crescent shaped.
- Place them in a tin lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in a preheated oven to 180 degrees C for about 20 - 25 minutes, depending on your oven. The baked cookies will look soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven.
- Let them cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely.
- Spray them with some rose or blossom water on both side.
- Sieve the icing sugar on both sides of the cookies and transfer them into a platter, sprinkling some extra sugar on top.
- Store them in an air-tight container for a longer shelf life.
Spry can be substituted with Crisco shortening.
In Greece, substitute spry with 400 grams butter and 100 grams fytini or Ariston shortening.
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Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,
Monday 9th of June 2014
Hi Ivy- This recipe for date/almond filled Kourabiethes sounds wonderful, can't wait to try these. A nice twist to my Yia Yia's traditional recipe. Quick question, in the filling ingredients list it says 1/2 TABLEspoon of cinnamon & 1/4 TABLEspoon cloves...is it supposed to be TABLESPOON or TEASPOON? Thanks for all of the great recipes, Michael
Monday 9th of June 2014
Hello Michael, Old traditional recipes are a bid odd on their ingredients. However, 1/2 tablespoon is about 1 teaspoon and 1/4 tbsp would be 1/2 tsp. However the amount of spices do not need an exact measurement. If you add a little bit more or less it will not affect the recipe. Good luck!
Thursday 19th of November 2009
thanks Ivy on enlightening me about the wedding cakes version..i had no idea they use semolina in it..what kind? super fine or more coarse? i will try it for sure!!!! thanks
Friday 7th of December 2007
Nice looking cookies, Ivy! As for baking, at least in the village where our house is, the really is not much of a culture of baking. I think it is because until recently, people used the village oven or an outside wood burning oven, neither of which are particularly conducive to baking cookies. I bake a lot when we're in the village, and this is unusual enough that I get lots of comments about it.
As for Spry, at least in the United States, Spry and Crisco were pretty much the same thing: solid white vegetable shortening. It seems like I've seen cans of Crisco in Athens, but now that I'm thinking about it, I can't say for sure. I agree white shortening makes good Christmas cookies -- I make some every year, they are called Angel Cookies, and they are very very good. I particularly like them with cashews.
On the other hand, Kourambiedes I've only made with fresh butter (from cows). They're good too!! (And Peter, you're right, they're very easy and much better than what you can buy at the bakery).
Wednesday 5th of December 2007
I don't either. Most women find as an excuse that they work and they have no time, but I think that if you like doing something you find time for it. I have been working since I graduated high school and always found time.
Wednesday 5th of December 2007
The Kourabiedes look real good and I've never had the stuffed ones...they sound tasty.
I really don't understand how some Greeks will buy a box of Kourabiedes from a bakery for 20 euros when they are so easy to make.