Eat Your Heart Out: Butter cookies

This week’s recipe has been a family classic for generations. I believe my grandmother actually used to make this for her mother when she was younger. My family calls this recipe “ghraybeh” but a more descriptive name would be Lebanese butter cookies. I’m proud to say that I have slightly adapted this week’s recipe to be more in line with another family favorite: fingerprint cookies. While the original recipe had a rather simple flavor, I felt that some pizzazz could be added by including jam as a sort of topping or garnish. So while I would no longer call these cookies entirely authentic to their traditional roots, it feels nice to add my own touch to what my family began. I hope you enjoy!

To start, cut 4 sticks of unsalted butter into tablespoon-sized slices, place them in a bowl and microwave them until they have completely melted. Next, let the butter cool to room temperature so that it can separate into distinct layers. While the butter is cooling, mix together 3 cups of flour and 2 cups of sugar. Personally, I found that 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of powdered sugar works best, as this combination makes for a balanced texture. The more powdered sugar you use, the more the cookies will melt in your mouth, but the less they will hold together in the oven and on a plate before serving. The opposite holds true for granulated sugar, which makes for denser cookies. Once the butter has completely separated, use a spoon to skim the white film off the top. Next, use a ladle or spoon to add the butter to the flour and sugar. The trick here is to make sure you don’t add any of the thicker, white oil of the butter which will reside in the bottom of the bowl. The process of separating the thin, yellow liquid from the oil will take some time but just stay patient. If some of the yellow layer is unable to be removed without disturbing the oil, that’s fine. Just make sure there is enough butter to combine the sugar and flour together. Once the butter is in with the dough, add a teaspoon of almond extract and mix until a smooth texture forms.

On an ungreased cookie sheet, place tablespoon-sized balls about an inch apart. These cookies are not prone to expanding in size in the oven, so you don’t really need to worry about them baking into each other. Bake the cookies at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes. Once they’ve baked, press your finger lightly into each cookie to make a divot and bake again for about another five minutes. During this second bake, be exceptionally careful. These cookies can burn very quickly. Take them out when they have ever so slightly changed color on the bottom, because turning light brown is an indicator that they have burned. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes before piping your favorite jam into your finger shaped divots. And with that, your cookies are done! Happy baking!

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