Greek Butter Cookies | Koulourakia
Koulourakia are traditional Greek butter cookies; a pastry like cookie, crisp on the outside tender and buttery on the inside, with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla — the perfect dunking cookie! These butter cookies are mouthwatering and perfect to kick off the holiday baking season, but I’ll let you in on a secret, they are delicious any time of the year.
Are you a cookie dunker? I am! Some cookies just scream for a rich cup of coffee or tea to dunk them in and these Greek cookies are perfect!
What Does Koulourakia Mean?
The name koulourakia (pronounced ku-LU-ra-KA) translates to “little koulouria”.
Koulouria (whose name comes from its round shape) are sweet, bready rings that can be served at dinner or as a street food.
Koulourakia, on the other hand are a much smaller, butter cookie that are hand rolled and shaped into fun twisted designs.
They traditionally have an egg glaze and are topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Authentic Greek Easter Cookies
You might be wondering if these are authentic or traditional Greek butter cookies?
I asked our dear neighbors (who happen to be Greek) to taste test the cookies, asking for honest feedback. This is what they said:
- The Koulourakia they’ve made and eaten are much smaller in size (but they loved this size)
- They are typically more dry (they use them for dunking)
- Texture and flavor were delicious
- Like many traditional ethnic recipes, there are hundreds of variations passed down from generation to generation over the years
- Spices were just right
- They gave them a 10 out of 10!
- Water | I used filtered water
- Cinnamon sticks | I use cinnamon sticks in various recipes, so I buy them in bulk.
- Salted butter | The real deal, if it is soft coming out of the fridge, it’s not real butter
- Cane sugar |I used unbleached all natural cane sugar
- Vanilla extract | the pure stuff, make your own vanilla and stop paying the high prices!
- Cake flour | I happened to have a box of Swan’s in my freezer* but would have preferred to use White Pastry Flour, mainly because it’s unbleached.
- All-Purpose Flour | I use this one the most often as I buy in bulk from Costco
- Eggs | I always use large eggs in my baking, typically free range
- Baking Powder | just a touch, original European recipes used baking ammonia (or ammonium bicarbonate) which is not used very often, it is a traditional leavening agent, which we replace 1:1 with baking powder.
FRESH COOKY TIP | Keep specialty and whole grain flours, grains and rice in the fridge or freezer; the higher levels of natural oils in these products causes them to go rancid quicker at room temperature. Typically it extends their shelf life in the fridge to 6 months and freezer up to a year.
Cinnamon Water Reduction
I loved that Mimi’s recipe has a secret ingredient, what I am calling a cinnamon water reduction.
This dough is soft, pliable and a tiny bit sticky, like a traditional sugar cookie dough or similar to my Frosted Sugar Cookie Bar dough.
Using your hands or a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop (makes the cookies come out pretty evenly) scoop a generous heaping portion of dough (about 1.5 oz or 45 grams) and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.
Roll into ball and then into about 7″ long ropes, form a “U” shape, then cross one side over the other and twist twice. Place twists onto parchment lined baking sheet, one inch a part.
Bake at 375F.
Check out the full recipe at www.thefreshcooky.com and search Koulourakia.
Greek Butter Cookies | Koulourakia
- 1 cup Water
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups salted butter, softened (4 sticks)
- 1 3/4 cups Cane sugar | I used unbleached all natural cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 5 cups (scant) Cake flour or a White Pastry Flour
- 1 2/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour (I use organic AP Flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 2 eggs, large
- Add water and cinnamon sticks to a small saucepan and bring to a rapid boil, over medium heat. Once the water has reduced by about ½ remove from heat. It's better to boil off too much water than not enough, you want the flavor of the cinnamon to shine through. If you do boil too much off, simply add cool water to bring to ½ a cup. Cool completely!
- Using a mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the soft butter, vanilla and cane sugar mixing until smooth and combined on low. You don't want any chunks of butter remaining.
- Whisk together in a large separate bowl; cake flour, all-purpose flour and baking powder.
- With the mixer on low, add eggs to the butter mixture, then add the flour mixture alternating with a little of the cooled cinnamon water until it comes together and forms a soft, smooth dough. Preheat oven to 375°F and line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Using your hands or a 1 ½ tablespoon cookie scoop (makes the cookies come out pretty evenly) scoop a generous heaping portion of dough (about 1.5 oz or 45 grams) and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Roll into ball and then into about 7" long ropes, form a "U" shape, then cross one side over the other and twist twice. Place twists onto parchment lined baking sheet, one inch a part.
- Bake at 375°F for 17-18 minutes for high altitude and about 20 minutes for sea level until golden brown on edges and bottom. Allow to cool completely on baking sheets. Store in airtight container on the counter up to 7 days or up to 3 months in the freezer.
- TIPS & TRICKS
- I found refrigerating the dough for 10 minutes after portioning into dough balls made it easier and more uniform to shape these into their traditional twists. For more tips, visit the blog at www.thefreshcooky.com