Middle Eastern Butter Cookies
MAKES ABOUT 3 DOZEN
Popular from Morocco to Turkey, the cookies called kurabia—also rendered as gourabia or ghorayebah—may be shaped like little balls or even bracelets. They are sometimes made with semolina instead of flour.
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 tsp. vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups superfine sugar
2 cups sifted flour
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, skimming foam that rises to the surface. When foam subsides, remove pan from heat and carefully pour clarified butter into a large mixing bowl, leaving milky solids behind. Refrigerate clarified butter until almost solid, about 40 minutes.
2. Add shortening to the clarified butter and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth and pale yellow, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar while beating constantly, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour while beating constantly, stopping mixer to scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as needed, until flour is fully incorporated and mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until silky smooth (dough will be soft and pliable but not sticky). Cut dough into 4 equal pieces, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 350º. Use your hands to roll dough pieces out on a clean surface into 1 1/2"-thick ropes. Cut ropes on the diagonal at 1" intervals, then gently press 1 pine nut on top of each diamond-shaped piece, flattening dough slightly, and transfer to ungreased cookie sheets about 1/2" apart. Bake cookies until very pale golden on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and set aside to cool completely on the cookies sheets. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.