I know, I know. It's been a long time, no post. Oral spank spank. But I haven't given up, oh ye who worry and pester me! It's just that...well...life sometimes takes up time. Like, ALL OF IT. In the last few months a few hundred thousand distracting things happened, which took me away from blogging and pretty much from humanity, a few among which are:
- Buying a house (well, ehem a flat-sort-of-thing, only it's not flat, it goes up into the attic, and then down, and then up the stairs again into the garden, I should probably say "buying an up-and-down not-so-flat")
- "Fixing" the house (including creating a super-wow kitchen from a "meh" kitchen, finally I have some counter space that is bigger than a postage stamp!)
- Moving house (that takes a normal person one day, it took us 2 weeks and the unpacking and putting things in place 3 months...)
- Getting fired from my job (the politically correct term, I believe, is "made redundant") while all of the above was happening (and then rehired in a slightly different role, as it turned out I was not really THAT redundant, minus my whole team which is now represented by a big empty space in my office, sad frowny face...)
- Doing DIY (the volume of IKEA boxes we recycled was about the same as that of our dining room. That probably says a lot about our new dining room = 2 m²)
- Travelling (Paris - to avoid the Royal Wedding frenzy, Greece - to join the family frenzy, Greece again - for the funeral of a very dear, young, talented friend who died pointlessly at 32, Japan - last-minute opportunity that could not be missed etc.)
So, now that things have sort of (just sort of) quietened down a bit, it's time to quickly dish out some Greek sweets for Christmas, just in case I tempt any late-Xmas-sweet-makers with these inspired, tree-shaped beauties!
I usually make these traditional sweets with my mom's recipe (passed down through generations) but this time I wanted to try something a bit more alternative, so I looked around and got inspired by Stelios Parliaros, who adds pistachios and rum to the mix, a sacrilege that probably would be met with some great ass-whooping by my elderly female relatives, but which surprisingly worked quite well. Since traditionally kourampiedes are sprinkled with orange blossom water, I thought of using Cointreau instead of rum, and I also mixed and smashed pistachios and almonds together which in the original recipe are left separated (some kourampiedes with one, some with the other), but if you can have the best of both worlds why not mix and match?
Have a great Christmas, and I hope 2012 brings a bit less panic, sorrow, hecticness and unexpected chaos in all our lives!
Source: Adapted from Stelios Parliaros
Makes around 30
- 100g almonds (not blanched)
- 40g pistachios (not blanched)
- 300g butter
- 110g icing sugar
- 600g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 30ml Cointreau
- 300g icing sugar (for coating)
Preheat the oven to 180°C, place the almonds in a tray and roast for 6 minutes then add the pistachios and roast all the nuts for a further 6-7 minutes. When cooled, chop or smash into small pieces (I used a plastic bag and a rolling pin, but be careful, don’t turn them into dust, you need to have some bite there!)
Mix the butter with the 110g of icing sugar in a big food processor or mixer until light and fluffy. Add one by one the flour, baking powder, vanilla extract and Cointreau and mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
Stir in the chopped nuts, and shape into rounds, or cut out different shapes with Christmassy cookie cutters. Place on a tray lined with baking parchment, making sure there is a 6-7 cm distance between them, as they tend to spread, and bake for 30 minutes (or until browned).
Take out of the oven, and before they have a chance to cool, turn them upside down and sprinkle with icing sugar. Immediately turn them the right way up, sprinkle with sugar again, and rest until cool. After they have cooled down, you can move them to a serving plate and sprinkle them with the rest of the sugar, for that genuine Greek Christmas overdose!