With December creeping closer I can’t resist whipping up tons of different cookies. It is a comforting thing to have these small pastries with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate, especially while working when you need that little boost.
We've published a collection of cookies for the winter season before, but this time around I want to introduce you to the wonderful world of kurabiye. Kurabiye refers to a kind of small pastry. Many will outright call them cookies, which is wrong, because they can be quite savory, close to crackers or maybe even outright crackers – depending on what you consider one.
If you ever visit a pastane, you’ll see trays of different kurabiye and can ask for sweet (tatlı) or savory ones (tuzlu), or do it my way and ask for karışık (mixed).
Either way, here are some recipes you can make at home, some in the classic “pastane” style, some not.
This literally means “flour cookie” in Turkish and it is an absolute delight. It melts in your mouth but you have to watch your breath when biting down because the copious amount of powdered sugar could go flying. You can of course buy these at literally every pastry shop and many regular supermarkets have them in-store as well, but homemade is always the best in my eyes.
Make sure that the butter or margarine (or a mix of both) are at room temperature and first mix all the wet ingredients before sieving in the flour, powdered sugar, starch and baking powder. Knead them thoroughly until you achieve a dough that doesn't stick. You might want to add a bit more flour, which is just the nature of things if you consider the fact that not all eggs are the same size. Roll the dough into a thick snake and cut it into small pieces. If you like, you can press a fork into each piece to get some nice markings on top. Bake these for 15 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius (about 340 degrees Fahrenheit). They will barely get any color. Let them cool off and then cover them in powdered sugar. Store the kurabiye in airtight containers.
Each pastry shop has a variation of these delicacies, but can you blame them? They are soft on the inside with a nice crust on the outside. Adding walnuts is a very common way to give these a different texture, but you can of course skip it – or add more!
For the dough
For the filling
Peel and grate the apples. Put the fruit into a pan with the sugar and cook them together. Once the apples release their juices, add the cinnamon and lemon juice. Simmer slowly until they have softened and finally add the walnuts. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.
For the dough, you’ll need to sift the flour, starch and baking powder together and add the other ingredients after that. Knead it through until you have a soft dough. You might need to add more flour if you think it is not strong enough. Cover the dough well and let it rest in a cool place or fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
Take half the dough and roll it out as round as possible then cut it into eight long triangular pieces. Put a bit of the filling onto the wide side of the cookie and carefully roll it up. Repeat until there is no dough left.
Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes at most. The cookies should not brown. Let cool and serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Alternatively, you can take small amounts of the dough and cut out circles. Put a bit of the filling in the middle and just pinch the dough together at the top with the filling peeking out a bit. The baking process for this version is not much different. Make sure to dust it with the powdered sugar after it has cooled off.
Now that we've introduced you to two sweet cookies, it would be unfair not to mention the most classic savory kurabiye you can find in pretty much every shop. The beautiful thing about these is that you can make them in any shape you like. Some shops go all out and make tiny braids while others go the simple round route. Either way, they taste great with the nigella and sesame seeds on top. Without them, it just wouldn’t be the same!
Separate one of the egg yolks and put all the ingredients into a bowl, excluding the seeds. Knead until you get a soft but not sticky dough. Like in the other recipes, you might need a bit more flour if it is still sticky. Once you have the right consistency, you can roll it out with the help of baking paper to prevent tears in the dough, or just make different shapes yourself! Try and make sure that the cookies all have more or less the same thickness. About 1 centimeter (a bit less than half an inch) would be ideal for baking. Whisk the egg yolk a bit, brush it onto the cookies and sprinkle some sesame and nigella seeds over them. Bake at 170 degrees Celsius for about 10-20 minutes depending on how thick you have made them. You’ll see them darken a bit thanks to the egg yolk and do keep an eye on them. Let them cool off and enjoy!