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Ghraybeh- Arabic Shortbread Cookies (S Cookies)

April 25, 2017

These buttery shortbread cookies seem to appear in various parts of the Middle East with different names. Throughout the Arab world they are known as Ghraybeh, shaped either as the letter ‘S’ or as a diamond. In Greece these are known as Kourabiedes. In Armenia they are known as Kourabia. When my husband was a child, he grew up thinking the S cookies reflected his last name beginning with the letter S, while when my brother was a child, he called them “eth” cookies because he had a lisp. Whatever you call them, you will be mesmerized by the soft melt-in-your-mouth texture at first bite. You can also start your own tradition and mold the cookies into any shape that is meaningful to you. These cookies are great for those with egg allergies because no eggs are used. The ghee (rather than butter) gives these cookies an authentic middle eastern flavor that you just can’t get with butter. I use rose flower extract to give the cookies a nice fragrance, but you can use vanilla extract instead. Dusted with powdered sugar, these cookies are festive and elegant—great for tea parties, showers, christenings, or any other celebration.

 

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What surprises many people is the simplicity of making this cookie–only 3 ingredients! But it is the method that ensures the soft texture. Mainly for the perfect cookies you must:

  1. Make sure you whip up the ghee and sugar for a long long time–so it turns almost white
  2. Don’t overmix when you add the flour
  3. Make sure you use ghee instead of butter–ensures the cookies stay softer longer
  4. Don’t mold the dough into shapes until you refrigerate it for at least one hour, that way the dough won’t be as sticky
  5. Bake on low heat (300 degrees) to make sure the cookies don’t crack or turn brown

I have to admit all hell breaks loose when my brother and I cook in the kitchen, but it’s all in good fun. Check out my new video below to see how easy it is to make this traditional cookie:

In my video, I also give a fun Latin American variation, adding dulce de leche to transform the cookies into Alfajores–or sandwich cookies. You can buy really good quality duce de leche in a can, available in the Latin American section of supermarkets, and you can also get a great dulce de leche from Trader Joe’s! To be honest I also got the ghee from Trader Joes as a shortcut–but you can also make your own clarified butter if you wish. Are you ready for your own cookie making adventure? Try making a buttery batch yourself, and leave me a comment to let me know what you think 😉

Here is the simple grocery list to get you started:

Ghee

Flour

Superfine sugar

Blanched almonds, pine nuts or pistachios ( to decorate)

Rose Flower Water (optional)

 

 

 

 

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