Shortbread Cookies with Cloves: Ghraiba bil qurunful الغريبة بالقرنفل

Ghraiba are delicious, easy to make and endlessly versatile, a simple recipe that allows for different flavorings.
These Arab shortbread biscuits are both a stand by for unexpected guests and ubiquitous on special occasions like Eid.

This version cuts the melt-in-the-mouth sweetness of Ghraiba with the sharp piquancy of cloves.

200g butter
60g powdered sugar
300 g flour (may vary depending on the type of flour used.)
1 tbs of finally grated cloves 
2 teaspoons vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

A handful  of  cloves
Powdered sugar (optional)
Mix the sugar, butter and flour into a smooth dough. 300g of flour (about 3 cups) should be enough, but depending on the kind of flour you use you may need more. Add as much flour as you need until the dough is firm enough to shape.

Grind the cloves into a rough powder.

Sprinkle the powder on the dough, add the vanilla and work in.
Divide the dough into small lumps.

Take a bit of dough and roll it into balls. Press it gently between the hollows of your palms to make a slightly convex shape: Press a clove in the centre of each ghraiba. Some people prefer to use slivered almonds even in clove ghraiba, but I think whole cloves are prettier. Being in the oven weakens their taste, and fills the kitchen with the aroma of cloves!

Bake in the over at 220°C degrees for about 10 minutes. Take them out of the oven when they are still pale or your buttery soft ghraiba will harden and become indistinguishable form sugar cookies. It is usual to cover Ghraiba in powdered sugar, which is best done when the cookies get cold. They are sweet enough as they are though.