We begin our series of Christmas Cookies with a recipe for Ghorayebah cookies. As a child growing up in Sudan, Christmas meant a festive season to visit families, to enjoy delicious meats and chicken dishes, and most importantly to indulge in home made Christmas cookies. Each family made their own batch. The bakery was busy, as the lack of electric power in most homes meant families made their cookies, laid them on trays and made trips to the town bakery to get them baked. Our treasured Christmas present was the new outfit; dress or shoes that one received for Christmas day. The myth of Santa does not exist in Africa. Today I continue the tradition by baking fresh cookies every Christmas for my family. As my daughters grow up they look forward to taking part in making the cookies and enjoy eating them as well.
Known as Ghorayebah Egyptian cookies, these melt in your mouth buttery cookies are made throughout the middle east. Sudanese bake an assortment of cookies for Christmas, Rammadan period, Eid al-Fitr and many festivities like weddings. Ghorayebah cookies are made with ghee or butter, flour, icing sugar and egg. There is no baking powder or baking soda. Shape into ovals with flat bottom, and insert a single clove in each. Instead of cloves, one may insert an almond sliver or pine nut sliver in each. Bake for 10-15 minutes. These cookies remain white on top with slight golden color at the bottom.
Recipe for Ghorayebah Cookies
- 1 cup ghee. Note: I did not have ghee and used vegetable shortening(Crisco brand) to make these cookies.
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ¼ tsp orange blossom water or rose water
- pinch of salt
- Whip ghee and icing sugar
- Add 1 egg
- Add 2 cups of flour
- Add salt, vanilla, orange blossom
- Leave dough in fridge for 1 hour to harden
- Shape into ovals using hands and lay flat on baking tray, insert clove in each one.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes.
- They are done when the bottom edges start to turn golden, the top should remain a white to cream color.