A crumbly, buttery shortbread-style biscuit from The Turkish Deli
Dear followers of Friday feeling. Today we are going to talk to you about a Turkish delicacy so delicate, it should come with a hazard warning. Therefore, before reading any further, may we strongly advise you either strip naked, or don some kind of shroud.
Ready? All clothes removed or covered up? Then let us continue—for while, looking back, the kourabiede is one of the messiest things we’ve tried, it is also one of the sweetest and dreamiest. It is pure fairy dust: melded with smooth butter and pressed into a round, pebble shape.
Inside its crumbly ivory cocoon, like the bitter heart of a snow queen, there nestles a whole Turkish walnut. “Traditionally they break the nut into the biscuit,” says Graham, owner of The Turkish Deli, “but we put it in whole and mould the dough around it.” Next to the rich, earthy crunch of the nut, the fine crumbs of the shortbread are as silky as the sand on a Mediterranean beach.
“It’s a bit like Scottish shortbread, but far, far more crumbly, and we use powdered sugar that has almost an icing sugar consistency.” Not for kourabiede the crude granulated stuff that graces the top of their northern cousin: this version has powdered sugar both around the biscuit and inside the mix.
“We use the confectionary powder we coat the Turkish delight with for the coating,” Graham continues. “There’s not much to it,” he shrugs. “We do it home style. We make it here with butter and sugar and we mould it ourselves.”
Using the old wooden moulds they brought back from Antakya, a town on the Syrian border that’s “sadly been a lot in the news recently”, they press the dough into shapes which vary according to flavour: “We do Turkish delight ones, too,” he says—a velvety, gummy gem, smiling through the shortcake—“so using different moulds helps tell them apart.”
You could make an informed decision, or you could mix them up and surprise yourself and your colleagues. Either way, you’ll end up coming up trumps—and covered in crumbs.