Adapted from “Aromas of Aleppo” by Poopa Dweck


  • 3 sticks of butter
  • 1 cup of superfine sugar
  • 3 cups of flour
  • slivered almonds
  • 1tsp almond extract

Clarify the butter by melting it on low heat. Do not stir. Skim off the foam and discard it. Let it cool to room temp.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Beat the sugar and butter for about 5 minutes until the mixture is white and frothy, add the extract, then add the flour one cup at a time.  The dough will be pretty crumbly. Knead it by hand until it sticks together more easily.

Roll the dough into walnut sized balls and place them onto an un-greased cookie sheet . Press your thumb into the middle to make a little well. Stick some almond slivers in the well.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the bottoms are lightly browned but the tops are still white.

Cool and eat!


Rafael’s grandmother Dora is famous for her baking. She’s Guatemalan and her family is of Middle Eastern Jewish decent. She also spent part of her life in Italy. This means her baked goods run the gamut from pizza to chocolate cinnamon cake to challah. Her challah recipe was actually published in cookbook called “A Blessing of Bread“.

For years, every time I’d make a crumbly sugar cookie Rafael would say they tasted like “draibes” a cookie that Dora used to make. I was intrigued but Rafael could tell me little about them besides that they were sweet and crumbly. I googled every possible spelling I could think of but nothing fit the bill. Then a couple of weeks ago  I mentioned the elusive “draibes” to Rafael’s mom Elena while we were visiting DC. She told me that they were actually called “graybehs” and that she had a recipe for them. It turns out they were in a cookbook I already had at home, the wonderful “Aromas of Aleppo” by Poopa Dweck. Dora’s side of the family is originally from Aleppo Syria so this book is chock full of the delectable foods associated with her.

Elena and I made the graybehs and everyone said they tasted close to Dora’s. It’s possible they were just being nice but I thought they were exceptional, crumbly and light and totally tasty.