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Lenten Orange Cinnamon Cookies – Kourabiethes

Countless recipes for rich little cookies like these exist, and most cultures have their versions. Most of them are little round balls rolled in powdered sugar, but these take the shape of a crescent. Because it’s that time leading up to Easter, I thought I’d share with you the version that Greeks might be eating during this Lenten season. (Another version that I’ll maybe share with you later includes eggs, butter and Ouzo!) This one calls for margarine, though I always use butter in cookies. The addition of olive oil and orange juice, as well as almond extract, make these distinctly different and delicious.


(makes about 40 cookies)

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup butter (or margarine, but not lower fat versions!)
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup almonds, blanched, lightly toasted and chopped
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 3 to 4 cups flour
  • ground cinnamon
  • powdered sugar for tops

Whip the olive oil, butter, and sugar with a stand mixer fitted with a wire attachment set on high speed for 3 minutes.

Replace the wire whip with flat paddle, reduce speed to low, and add the next 5 ingredients and mix until incorporated. Slowly add flour until you have a soft cookie dough. You may not need all the flour. (My experience has been that about 3-1/2 cups was about right, but it depends on the flour, the weather and perhaps some other reasons mysterious to me.) With your fingers, pick up dough the size of a large walnut and shape cookies into crescent shapes. Put on a parchment-lined cookie pan in rows, leaving 3/4-inch space between the cookies to allow for expansion.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F until light golden brown for 25 minutes approximately. (It may take between 22 and 30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your crescents.)

While cookies are baking, cover a work surface with butcher or parchment paper. Sprinkle enough powdered sugar to totally cover it. (Instead of this rather messy method, I just fill the bottom of a jelly roll pan with powdered sugar. I’ll then take what remains of it at the end and sift it back into a bowl to use for another purpose. You may not want to do this, but I have a little bit of the thrifty Scot in me too.) Pull cookies from oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes and then transfer on top of the powdered sugar. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and heavily with powder sugar to cover top completely. Let cool thoroughly before storing in a tight covered container.

(This recipe appears in Papas’ Mastering the Art of Traditional Greek Cookingby George and Chrisoula Papas. I love this book!)

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For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here.

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