Simcha Yosef's Kourabiedes on her mother's, Esther Rafael, plate. Photography: Aya Shalom.
Simcha Yosef's Kourabiedes on her mother's, Esther Rafael, plate. Photography: Aya Shalom.


Esther Raphael (née Vivanta) made these Kourabiedes cookies for every special occasion. Her daughter, Simcha, continues to make them to this day

The mainstream version of the Kourabiedes has a base of almond flour, but Esther’s recipe uses white flour only. According to Simcha this is the more authentic version, “Almonds were an expensive raw material, and the Jews had no money for almond flour – neither when they were in Greece nor when they arrived in Israel.” Although Simcha doesn’t use white flour frequently, she makes sure to use it for her mother’s recipe.

The cookies are baked just until they separate from the parchment paper —they should not turn golden due to the small amount of sugar. The combination of margarine and the short baking time give them an especially delicate and mellow texture. Topped off with a generous dusting of powdered sugar, the Kourabiedes are the perfect bite of sweetness.

Ingredients for Kourabiedes Cookies

  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 bag (10 grams) vanilla sugar
  • 1 package (200 grams) margarine at room temperature
  • 1 package (200 grams) butter at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Arak
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 kilogram white flour
  • 100 grams for dusting the cookies


  • 1. Heat the oven to 355°F (180°C)  and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

  • 2. Place the sugar, vanilla sugar, margarine and butter in a bowl and mix by hand until uniform (the sugar should dissolve completely and the margarine should become runny). Please note: it is very important that you mix well.

  • 3. Add baking soda and arak to the paste and mix well.

  • 4. Gradually add the flour and continue mixing by hand, until you get a uniform, malleable, and smooth dough. You may not need to add all the flour listed in the recipe. To check if it has enough flour: each time you finish incorporating more flour, pinch off a piece of the dough and roll it into a ball.The ball should be completely smooth; if there are grooves on the ball's surface, then add more.

  • 5. When the dough is ready, form into balls with a diameter of about 1 inch (3 cm or for those who want precision, 30 grams), flatten them a little and arrange them at intervals on a sheet lined with parchment paper.

  • 6. Bake for 12-15 minutes. To check if they are ready: first, the cookies should not be golden — they should remain white. Second, shake the pan slightly and if the cookies separate easily form the baking paper, then they are ready.

  • 7. Sprinkle the powdered sugar generously on the hot cookies as soon as they come out of the oven.

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