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Turkish Kurabiye Cookies: No Gingerbread This Christmas

Recipes

Turkish Kurabiye Cookies

Holidays around the world come with a particular smell: smell of rose water in the sweetshops of India around the Diwali, aroma of the roasted lamb for Kurban Bayram in Turkey, scent of the tangerines around New Year in Russia and notes of the warming spices in the gingerbread cookies made for Christmas in Europe and the US. Those smells evoke warm memories and anticipation of a festive tradition. Yet every tradition needs a little revolution now and then. It is just about the time to offer a no-gingerbread-cookies point of view on the coming Christmas.

I first came across the gingerbread cookies when I was living in Denmark: at the age of 20 I got to witness my first proper Christmas. I felt like a kid embracing all traditions and delights of this important holiday: I joined communal coral singing in a church, I got my few presents from the people I knew, I sampled gløgg, hot mulled wine with spices, raisins and almonds (well, not very children-like activity but I got outraged when the student union distributed gløgg on a clear day right at our school), I ate rice pudding and yes, I munched countless gingerbread cookies (pebernødder in Danish) and got mesmerized when saw a whole fairytale town made of those. Hey, I was told you can’t play with food and these liberated Danish kids threw away their LEGOs for a while and built whole towns of cookies! Even after all the bizarre encounters during my extensive travels I still think this was one of the strongest culture shock I’ve experienced.

As the next two years I spent in Norway gingerbread cookies (pepperkaker in Norwegian) gradually have taken their legitimate place in my life right around the Christmas time. I even started spreading the gingerbread cookies culture in Russia as each time I brought boxes of them to be gifted to various people. And what do you think? A few years down the line along with the Italian ricotta and Spanish jamon gingerbread cookies entered the gastronomic vocabulary of the Moscovites, shelves of the supermarkets and confectionery shops and pages of personal coolinary journals. While here in Moscow gingerbread cookies remain out-of-the-box fun I wonder if it is not a bit boring to have them for Christmas every year elsewhere. Tradition is a tradition but what about a small cookies revolution?

This Christmas my cookies explorations got inspired by Turkish kurabiye cookies, or tea time favorite in Turkey. What I like about kurabiye cookies is that you can take a quick-fix path or you can fuss with them a bit for a special occasion. The base recipe is very simple and quick to make yet there is a plenty of things you can add such as nuts, dried fruits, fruit juices and such. Also there are dozens of shapes you can give to your kurabiye cookies: “tear a piece of the dough and throw on the baking tray” shape, little volcanoes that erupts the sweet thick jam lava, parcels stuffed with stewed fruits or even mushrooms with puffed stems, not mentioning the shapes you can make with your favorite cookie cutter.

After playing with various ingredients I have created two Christmas cookies recipes. And as I love mixing my favorite geographies at the kitchen I gave these Turkish delights Russian names. The first one is Nutcracker Cookies as in the recipe I used walnuts that come in season by Christmas but also The Nutcracker for me is a famous Christmas-time ballet by the renown Russian composer Tchaikovsky. The second recipe is for Cold Frost and Sunshine Cookie as is in an opening line of a poem by a great Russian poet Pushkin and the combination of the wonderful aromas of orange and star aniseed in these cookies are about Christmas mood and the home comfort on a sunny winter day when you sense the smell coming from the oven, peek out of the window to see how much snow had fallen overnight and plan your skiing or ice-skating sally later that day.

As gingerbread cookies are often used as a construction material for building fairytale towns and as a decoration the Christmas trees I am convinced that the kurabiye cookies do have that advantage as well. Make them flat and they’ll be aromatic roofs, coat them with ground nuts and they will be textured roads of your town, or make them round, place in the little sachets of organza and use as the hanging decorations around the house. Do you have a better idea for this little Christmas cookie revolution? Please, share so we all can enjoy Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Nutcraker – Walnut Turkish Kurabiye Cookies Recipe No Gingerbread Cookies This Christmas

Nuts are made for cookies and these walnut cookies are made for Christmas!

Preparation time: 20 min
Time in the oven: 20 min

Ingredients (for 30 small cookies):
125 g butter, softened
125 g brown sugar
1 egg pinch of salt 100 ml walnut, chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated
200 g flour, sifted
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
100 ml walnut, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Mix the liquid ingredients: In a large mixing bowl mix butter and sugar with wooden spoon. In a separate small bowl whisk eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the whisked eggs, chopped walnut and grated lemon zest to the dough.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients: Combine the dry ingredients (sifted flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar and cardamon) and mix in the dry mixture to the dough first with a wooden spoon / spatula and then with your hands gradually forming a ball of good soft dough.
  4. Set for baking: Place a parchment paper sheet on the baking tray. In a small saucer mix egg yolk and water; transfer the ground walnut to another small saucer. Form balls of about 2 sm in diameter (takes one capped table spoon of the dough) – roll thoroughly so there are no visible cracks on the balls. Moist with egg yok and then roll in the ground walnut to get the cookies fully coated. Place the cookies on the baking tray leaving sufficient space between them as they tend to grow while baking. Bake for 20 minutes and cool down completely before serving.

Cold Frost and Sunshine – Turkish Kurabiye Cookies with No Gingerbread Cookies This ChristmasSesame Seeds Recipe

Aromas of orange and star aniseed bring home comfort, sun and Christmas mood on any winter day.

Preparation time: 20 min
Time in the oven: 20 min

Ingredients (for 40 small cookies):
150 g butter, softened
150 g brown sugar
juice of 1/2 orange, medium size
zest of 1/2 orange, finely grated
2 eggs
pinch of salt
300 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water
50 g sesame seeds, roasted
40 hazelnuts
1 large star aniseed

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Mix the liquid ingredients: In a large mixing bowl mix butter and sugar with wooden spoon. In a separate small bowl whisk eggs with a pinch of salt. Add the whisked eggs,orange juice and zest to the dough.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients: Combine the dry ingredients (sifted flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar) and mix in the dry mixture to the dough first with a wooden spoon / spatula and then with your hands gradually forming a ball of good soft dough.
  4. Set for baking: Place a parchment paper sheet on the baking tray. In a small saucer mix egg yolk and water; transfer the sesame seeds to another small saucer. Form balls of about 2 sm in diameter (takes one capped table spoon of the dough) – roll thoroughly so there are no visible cracks on the balls. Moist with egg yolk and then roll in the sesame seeds to get the cookies fully coated. Place the cookies on the baking tray leaving sufficient space between them as they tend to grow while baking. Press one hazelnut into the middle of each cookie: make sure to press deep enough so the nuts don’t fall off from the baked cookies. Place a large star aniseed in the middle of the baking tray for the aroma. Bake for 20 minutes and cool down completely before serving.
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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • farida March 14, 2013, 9:45 pm

    today i have made turkish cheese pastry.dough was the same as yours but i have made the filling a little bit change. i have add some potatoes in it. black pepper,capsicum and very little pieces of cheddar cheese in every pasry. result was zabardast!!.i mean very very good.my husband and my children were so delighted.love you,thank you sooo much!

    Reply

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