I'm so excited to share a childhood favorite: Egyptian-style butter cookies! Bite-size, melt-in-your-mouth butter cookies that are just the right amount of sweet. Best part? This butter cookies recipe requires so little work and only 3 ingredients: Ghee (highly clarified butter); powdered sugar; and flour. This recipe makes 35 small cookies; and I can assure you, they will be devoured fast! Step-by-step tutorial included.
Whenever I'm in a conversation about cookies--which seems to be happening more lately--I end up talking about my favorite childhood cookies called Ghorayebah (gho-ra-yeb-ah.) They're, more or less, Egypt's signature cookies, which my mom made every occasion you can think of, but I most vividly remember them as Easter cookies.
I loved them so much. In fact, I was the kid you didn't want near the plate of butter cookies (let's just say, one was never enough!)
3-Ingredient Egyptian Butter Cookies
I never knew why these were mom's go-to cookies until I made them myself.
These are eggless cookies and they take 3 INGREDIENTS: ghee, powdered sugar, and flour. Mom throws in a hint baking powder to give them some "air" and "lightness," she says.
Don't be confused by the ingredient picture, the shaved almonds are a completely optional garnish. Add them if you're feeling fancy.
These bite-size butter cookies are the kind of no-fuss, so-darn-simple dessert you can whip up any night of the week. They have the simplicity of Italian Baci Di Dama but they're even easier to make since you don't need to stuff them. And, they are crumbly, extremely soft, melt-in-your-mouth cookies, thanks to the use of ghee and powdered sugar.
Some may describe Ghoryebah as shortbread cookies. Maybe. But, these Egyptian butter cookies have a less dense and far softer texture--let me think--almost like velvet, if the word "velvet" could ever be used to describe a cookie. Point is, pop one of these little cookies in your mouth, and without a ton of effort, it will melt.
Can I use Unsalted Butter in Place of Ghee?
Before we get to the step-by-step for this simple butter cookies recipe, let me address one question right now. Can one use unsalted butter instead of ghee? NO.
If you're not familiar, ghee is a type of highly clarified butter made by slowly simmering regular butter. Water evaporates and the butter separates into liquid fats and milk solids. Once separated, the solids are removed, leaving us with pure goodness.
Ghee is wonderfully aromatic and has a very subtle nutty flavor. And because it lacks the water content of regular butter, it produces far smooth, melt-in-your-mouth cookies. If you use butter instead, you will end up with crispy butter cookies. Frankly, completely different cookies than ghoryebah.
Powdered sugar is also partially responsible for the texture of these butter cookies. So, there is no good substitute here for powdered sugar.
Step-by-Step for Ghoryebah: Egyptian Butter Cookies Recipe
1. Whip ghee using a hand-held electric mixer. Keep the speed nice and low here.
2. Add sifted powdered sugar and mix again until you get a nice, buttery and fluffy mixture (you can start slowly and increase mixer speed).
3. You're done with the mixer at this point. Now, add baking powder. Add flour in stages...start with 1 cup and knead to incorporate, then add the remaining cup and knead until well incorporated into a soft dough. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes so the dough firms up a bit.
4. Form small walnut-sized balls, and ever so lightly press on top. Arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (leave a little space in between). If you like, gently press a slivered almond on top of the cookies.
5. Bake in 350 degrees F heated oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Look for the bottom of the cookies to gain a little color, but they should not turn any darker than a golden hue. Remove cookies from heat and set them aside to cool completely
Important TIP: Resist the urge to touch the cookies until they are fully cooled, otherwise they will fall apart! (You can see where I made a little dent below)
How to Store
These are a bit of an indulgence, so I make them only on special occasions. And when I do, they're gone within the hour! But if you have any left, store cooled butter cookies in a tight-lid glass container or tin. They will keep for about 2 weeks if stored properly in a cool area.Print
Melt-in-your-mouth Egyptian butter cookies! Simple bite-sized eggless cookies, made of 3 ingredients: ghee, powdered sugar, and flour.
- 1 cup/195 g ghee (highly clarified butter like this kind)
- ½ cup/ 63.77 g powdered sugar, sifted, and more for later
- scant ⅛ tsp/ 0.5 g baking powder
- 2 cups/ 240 g all-purpose flour, sifted
- Handful slivered almonds (optional)
- Place ghee in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand-held electric mixer like this one, mix on low until ghee is whipped.
- Add powdered sugar, then mix again using hand mixer. Start mixer on low and then increase speed as needed to medium until the ghee-sugar mixture is whipped (should look smooth and fluffy.)
- Set the mixer aside. Add baking powder, then add 1 cup flour. Knead with your hand to work flour in, then add the remaining 1 cup flour. Knead again until flour is well incorporated into a super soft dough.
- Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes so that the dough will firm up a bit. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (see tip #2). And prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- When ready, remove dough from fridge. Take small portions of dough (heaping ½ tablespoons) and form into small walnut-sized balls. Ever so lightly press the top (do not flatten). Arrange on prepared baking sheet, about 2 to 3 inches or so apart.
- Lightly press a slivered almond on each or some of the cookies.
- Bake in heated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or so (cookies should firm up and gain a bit of color on the bottom. But should remain pretty light in color on top.)
- Remove from oven. Do NOT touch cookies until cooled (they will fall apart). Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!
- Cook's Tip #1: In case you're wonder if you could just use unsalted butter in place of ghee (clarified butter), the answer is no. Ghee is the key ingredient in ghoraybeh butter cookies. Because ghee lacks the water content of regular butter, it produces far softer, melt-in-your mouth cookies. If you use butter instead, you will end up with crispy butter cookies. Frankly, completely different cookies than ghoryebah. Similarly, there is no substitute for the powdered sugar.
- Cook's Tip #2: If you have a super strong oven, adjust the heat. Maybe try 325 degrees F. The bottom of the cookies should only gain little color.
- Cook's Tip #3: Some Egyptians add a pinch of ground cardamom, you can do that if you want to add more interest and flavor.
- Storage: Store in tight-lid tin. If stored properly in a cooler area, they will keep for a couple of weeks.
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- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Egyptian
Keywords: Butter cookies, shortbread cookies, eggless cookies