I dated a Greek guy for three years when I was younger and absolutely loved the holidays at his parents’ home. Tons of cooking and baking and I learned a lot about simple, tasty food from his mother and Yia Yia (his Grand-Mother). Every Easter, his Yia Yia would come to the house and bake her Koulourakia cookies. She didn’t have a recipe, just memories from the old country but was willing to let me write down the ingredients and her techniques for the enjoyment of the next generation. I’ve come up with the measurements in the following recipe as I didn’t think many people would appreciate the “put enough flour so that the dough will be okay”. These cookies are dry and almost tasteless, but are addictive and you’ll want a dozen at-a-time. Here’s to Theodora!
- 2 sticks butter
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 ounce of whiskey mixed with a pinch of baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla
- flour (approximately 3 1/2 cups)
- 1 large egg beaten with ¼ cup milk
- sesame seeds (approximately 5 tbsp)
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- In a large bowl, whip the butter until creamy, approximately 1 minute. Add sugar and blend. Add eggs, beating well after each one. Add baking powder. Add whiskey mixture and vanilla. Add flour. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- On a lightly-floured surface, form a tbsp of dough into a ball then roll it into a 7-inch long rope (sprinkle dough with some flour if too sticky). Take the two ends of the rope, join them then twist to form a braid.
- Line 4 cookie sheets with wax paper. Place cookie braids about 2 inches apart on the wax paper-lined trays and brush tops with the egg and milk mixture. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with sesame seeds.
- Place two cookie sheets on the top rack of the oven and bake until tops of cookies are browned, approximately 10 minutes, then switch the cookie sheets from the upper oven rack to the bottom oven rack and bake an additional 10 minutes. Repeat process with additional baking sheets.
- Take cookies out of the oven and cool for 2 minutes, then transfer them to a kitchen towel and cool completely.
Makes 48 cookies.
Notes: You’ll need 4 cookie sheets for this recipe (can cool and wash the first 2 cookie sheets after the first batch of cookies have baked). You’ll likely need to re-refrigerate the dough after you roll and braid enough cookies for 2 baking sheets. Not into braiding? Koulourakia can also be made into a circle using a 7-inch long rope! Do not store cookies before they’ve cooled completed or they’ll lose their crunch.