Raya Cookies: Kourabiedes-inspired Walnut Butter Snowballs.

It is going to be Raya (Eid) in a few days in Malaysia, and during the fasting month, people bake cookies and elaborate recipes of yore come out. People always have several types of biscuits, cookies, cakes and other festive foods around the house because people are always coming to visit. I have several favourites, my grandmother’s Raspberry Sponge Cake is one, and the Holy Grail (for me!) of all cookies, is the Kueh Tat or Pineapple Jam Tarts.

Kourabiedes are Greek celebration cookies, you see them mostly during Christmas, but also during Easter, and weddings! I like to make them with almonds, but some people make them with walnuts too. Why I am making these soft, crumbly cookies with walnuts is that I have a LOT of walnuts. In the shell.

Walnuts: Before
Walnuts: After

You can use ground almonds here if you like, or ground hazelnuts. I have tried them both, and I can’t find any fault in any of them. They are simple and easy to make. They melt easily in the mouth, soft and crumbly and full of walnut-y flavour.

Ingredients: (makes about 15 big cookies, or 30 small ones)

150g of pastry flour or top flour
120g of softened unsalted butter
50g of icing sugar (and more for dusting)
50g of ground walnuts
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (I scrape the seeds of 1 vanilla pod here)
A sprinkling of rose-water. (Or any blossom water you’d like – orange blossom is wonderful too!)
A pinch of salt

What you need:

A baking tray, lined with parchment
Cling film
A mixer: handheld or standalone. Or, a husband-shaped-whisk-wielding helper to help. (Elbow grease)
Wire rack


    1. In a mixing bowl add the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla and beat until softened.
    2. Sift the flour at least once. Fold in the flour and the ground walnuts into the butter mixture with a spatula.
    3. Wrap the dough into cling film and refrigerate for about 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
    4. This is the time to clean your kitchen, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C, and line your baking tray with parchment.
    5. Roll out the chilled dough into a long cylinder and slice the roll into uniform sizes. Keep note, the thicker the cylinder, the bigger the cookie. So if you want pop-in-the-mouth sized cookies, make the roll into approx. 3 cm diameter.
    6. Shape the dough into balls and place in alternatingrowsonto the lined baking tray.
    7. Bake the cookies for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and leave the cookies to cool on a wire rack.
    8. Once the cookies have cooled, gently sprinkle some rose water on the cookies. Immediately dust the cookies with icing sugar. (This will help the icing sugar to ‘stick’ onto the cookies.)
  1. Store in an airtight container, and enjoy!




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