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Kourambiedes-Greek Christmas and Wedding Cookies

Servings: About 4 dozen (1/ 14 inch) cookies
These buttery Greek Shortbread Cookies are traditionally served at Christmas, and are sometimes given to guests at weddings and baptismals. They melt in the mouth. Handle gently, as they are fragile.

Beat on medium speed until lightened in color and creamy:

3/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat until very fluffy and well blended:
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Gradually add and stir until well blended and smooth:
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

1 cup Ground Almonds* see note below (optional)

Cover and refrigerate the dough until firm enough to shape into balls, about 1 hour.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease cookie sheets.

Pull off pieces of the dough and roll between your palms into generous 1-inch balls. Space about 1 inch apart on the sheets. If desired, garnish the balls by inserting into the top of each:
1 whole close

Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are faintly tinged with brown, 14-18 minutes; routate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Remove the sheet to a rack and let stand until the cookies firm slightly. Gently transfer to racks to cool completely. Sift over the cookies until evenly coated:
1/3 cup powdered sugar

*Note: If desired, 1 cup ground almonds may be added to this recipe. If you do add the ground almonds, stir in after you have added the vanilla or almond extract, then continue with recipe.

Makes about 4 dozen (1 1/4 inch) cookies.

Source: Joy of Cooking Cookbook
Date: March 19, 2003