Ghoreiba is basically a Middle-eastern butter-cookie decorated with almonds. I’ve never made shortbread cookies, but ghoreiba reminds me of a mix between them and Russian tea-cookies. A quick google search later and now I know that all three of the above cookies are basically the same cookie made in different ways.
When I made ghoreiba with gluten flour my cookies came out dense and buttery, very good but somewhat heavy. Something that really surprised me is that this time, using my gluten-free flour mix, the cookies came out super light and flaky. They basically crumbled and melted in your mouth. The texture change threw me but, as has happened with most of the recipes I’ve tried, I actually liked the cookies better gluten-free than with gluten.
Sometime soon, later this week most likely, I will blog about the gluten-free all-purpose mix I made and link it on here and all my future recipes.
But for now, here is the recipe for gluten-free ghoreiba.
This recipe was given to me by my Egyptian mother-in-law. Many people have their own version of ghoreiba and add things like rose water, or orange blossom water, but this is the very basic version. Mama (my mother-in-law) makes her own variations on this by adding cocoa powder for chocolate ghoreiba.
Gluten Free Ghoreiba
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter
2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla (1.5 tsp if you’re using powdered vanilla)
Whole blanched almonds to garnish
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
If you don’t have a mixer then get ready to work out your biceps because the KEY, absolute key, to fluffy ghoreiba is creaming your butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy. I have a much-beloved kitchenaid and I highly recommend getting one for anyone who is even slightly interested in baking. It makes all the difference.
Cream your room-temperature butter with the powdered sugar and vanilla until the texture is fluffy and the color has lightened. Mix in your flour until the dough comes together in a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I had to add a few teaspoons of additional flour until the dough would pull away. Test it, if you need to add, add lightly until the dough pulls together. You want it to make balls without sticking to your hands.
Once it pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl stop mixing it, you don’t want to over-mix the dough.
I bake the cookies on parchment paper and I feel this crisps up the cookies better than baking directly on the cookie-sheet.
Take enough dough in your palm to make a gumball-sized ball. One of my initial mistakes was making the cookies too big which made them heavy and doughy. Roll the dough between your palms until it makes a perfectly round ball and then, after placing the dough ball on the parchment, press your thumb into the middle, smooshing the cookie down and leaving a perfect thumb-print. Into this thumb-print you will press one whole almond.
The cookies will spread out so make sure you have at least two inches between each cookie. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. With the GF flour I found that my ghoreiba didn’t really brown like I’m used to, so I over-cooked the first batch. Thankfully the recipe is very forgiving and the cookies were still good, if a little too brown on the bottoms.
I made a few variations in this batch: I started with basic ghoreiba and then for the second round I rolled the ghoreiba balls in shredded, unsweetened, desiccated coconut and baked them without an almond (because I may or may not have forgotten to add the almonds), and for the third round I rolled the balls in coconut again and then added the almonds.
I think next time I may try adding cocoa powder to the mix and make chocolate ghoreiba, and sometime in the future I may try adding jelly to the thumb-prints and make thumb-print cookies. Another version Mama has done in the past is putting jelly between two mini-button ghoreiba she made (without thumb-print) and then edging the sandwiched ghoreiba-buttons in more jelly and then rolling that in shredded coconut. Those were very good and very pretty.
This ghoreiba recipe is a very good base upon which you could jump off into many directions. AND if you are not gluten-free, simply use regular all-purpose flour. The recipe stays the same.