Kavala Kourabie Cookies – Heavenly almond sugar cookies

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WHAT'S SPECIAL

Although these cookies are commonly known as “Kavala kurabiyesi”, they are have other names, as well, such as “Edirne kurabiyesi”, pointing to their shared Greek and Turkish history.

What are Kavala Kourabie Cookies?

These cookies are made with ground and crushed almonds and some vanilla. They really do melt in your mouth. Shapes may vary, but the most popular is a crescent often dusted with powdered sugar.

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The origins

The earliest cookies can be traced back to the 7th century in Persia, as Persians were one of the first people to produce sugar. The first recipes that mention “kurabiye” are found in an Arabic cookbook from the 10th century, “Kitab al-Tabih” (1).

The longest list of food in the Ottoman palace kitchen registries was of desserts, and desserts with almonds were definitely not uncommon. Almond cookies such as Kavala kurabiyesi were mentioned as early as 1764 (2), but considering the other names for similar cookies, they can be traced even further back to the 15th century (3).

So where does the connection with Kavala come from, you might wonder. Until 1912, the city of Kavala, now in Greece, was part of the Ottoman Empire. Turks who lived in that region were known to bake these cookies. They were ultimately subject to the Turkish-Greek population exchange and were sent to Turkey. The same happened to the Greeks who lived in Turkey, who were sent to Greece. Many of them settled in Kavala and took it upon themselves to promote this cookie under that name. Despite their name, Kavala kurabiyesi in Edirne, where a variety of other almond-based desserts are popular, are one of the most sold items bought by Greeks who visit the city.

Etymology

The word Greek “kurabiedes” comes from the Turkish kurabiye, which itself comes from the Persian “gulabiye”, which referred to a wide variety of cookies. The earliest mention of the word in Turkish is from before 1680 in Evliya Çelebi’s “Seyahatnâme” as “ghurabiye”, in reference to something small and edible.

Kavala kurabiyesi - heavenly almond sugar cookies

One aspect that pins this in the Middle East is theway this cookie is prepared. The roasting of the flour with almonds baking is similar to the preparation of halva.
Servings 40 pieces
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 350 gr flour
  • 100 gr almond meal
  • 50 gr crushed almonds
  • 160 gr powdered sugar
  • 1 package baking powder / 10 gr
  • 1 package vanilla sugar / 10 gr 
  • 85 gr butter
  • 1 egg white
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Instructions

  • Add the crushed almonds to the flour and roast it in a skillet until it releases its aroma. Let this cool off.
  • Add the almond meal, powdered sugar, baking powder, vanilla, butter and egg white and knead until you get a consistent dough. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment to get a smooth surface until it is about 1 centimeter thick. Cut the cookies out with a crescent-shaped cookie cutter, although any shape will do
  • Bake the cookies at 180 degrees Celsius for about 15-20 minutes and dust them with powdered sugar after they cool.
    Κουραμπιές Καβάλας - παραδεισένια μπισκότα ζάχαρης αμυγδάλου

Notes

Bibliography

(1) Nawal Nasrallah, “Annals of the Caliph’s Kitchens: Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq’s Tenth-Century Baghdadi Cookbook”, 2007.
(2) Marianna Yerasimos, “500 Yıllık Osmanlı Mutfağ”ı, 2002.
(3) Muhammed bin Mahmud Shirvani, “15. Yüzyıl Osmanlı mutfağı”, tr. Mustafa Argunşah, 2005.
Course: Dessert

 

 

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