When I first moved to Istanbul, I was very nervous about speaking Turkish. Of course, I needed to talk in order to buy food, so I would often shop at small number of restaurants and food stores where the people who worked there recognized me.
The closest bakery to my apartment in Ortaköy became an almost-daily stop for me. The people who worked there were happy to interpret my hand gestures and broken Turkish sentences, and always waved when I walked by on my way to school.
At first, I would just buy bread. But after seeing the cookies in the window so many times, I decided I should try them. On that day that I decided to buy cookies I started out with a few of these small, square, powdered-sugar dusted ones. From then on, I would never stop in just for bread anymore. Even the bakers began to know how much I loved un kurabiyesi, and would start walking toward them when they saw me walk into the store.
You can buy these cookies at almost any bakery in Istanbul; however, they are also quite simple to make at home. They hold their freshness very well if you keep them in a sealed container.
Makes 20-24 cookies
1 cup butter, cold (225 grams)
2 cups flour (250 grams)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (110 grams) + extra for dusting
1 teaspoon baking powder (5 grams) (sub: European standard packet)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (sub: European standard dry packet)
1 tablespoon tahini paste (15 grams)
- Preheat your oven 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius).
- Place all the ingredients into a large bowl. Using your hands, knead everything together to form a stiff dough. It may seem like there is not enough liquid, but keep kneading and the dough will eventually come together. If your dough is too dry, add one tablespoon of butter at a time until it comes together.
- Split your dough into 2-3 pieces, and roll each section into a long rope, about 1 inch diameter. Using a fork, make lines across the top of the dough. Next, cut diagonal lines to achieve the desired cookie shape.
- Place cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 10-15 minutes in the oven. These cookies are best when they do not get crispy, so try to avoid letting them brown on the edges.
- Allow cookies to cool and then dust with powdered sugar.
- Invite your friends over for tea and cookies!
Tips & Additional Information:
- Just as American grocery stores sell pre-made "mixes" for cakes and cookies, Turkish grocery stores sell premade mixes for un kurabiyesi (among many other Turkish desserts). I recently tried the mix pictured below and it was really great!
- Another way to shape the cookies is to make them into rounds, then slightly flatten them with your palm and press a fork into them to make the lines. With this method, it is nice to add an almond to the bottoms (see image below).