Monday, 12 October 2009

KOULOURAKIA or ... Greek Butter Cookies. Koulourakia Methysmena: Greek Butter Cookies made with brandy!

Six thirty, and dark outside. We've jumped into fall. I've planted some colourful chrysanthemums all around my garden. They look lovely and they blend in well with the changing foliage. I am enjoying the crisp weather with its sudden gusts of wind which make the first crop of fallen leaves swirl and fly on. I think of what's ahead: other holidays are on their way. Soon it will be time to bake and box cookies for gift giving. Koulourakia, my childhood delights! I made some this weekend using my favourite recipe. Come Christmas I'll make them again, and swirl them into pretty shapes.

Sometimes these things happen: 
I was heavy handed with this batch and went overboard with the sesame seeds. No one (that I know of) seemed to mind. 

  • 16 ounces/450 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1cup sugar
  • 1egg at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 shot of your favourite cognac
  • zest of one large orange
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 cups of flour, sifted
  • egg wash: 1 egg beaten with one teaspoon water
  • about 3 tablespoons sesame seeds to sprinkle on the cookies (optional)


  • Mix the baking powder with one cup of the sifted flour. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your mixer cream the butter until it's light and fluffy. 
  • Add the sugar and beat about five minutes until it's well incorporated into the butter. 
  • Add the egg and the egg yolk and continue beating.
  • Stir in the vanilla and orange rind.
  • Slowly pour in the orange juice and cognac and mix.  
  • Gradually add the flour and baking powder mixture. 
  • Begin gradually adding the rest of the sifted flour. As the flour accumulates into the mixture you can begin gently kneading the cookie dough by hand. It will be ready when it's soft and pliable.  
  • Line three cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
  • Cut off small pieces of the dough and shape them into spheres. 

  • On a smooth surface shape the dough spheres into cookies. First, roll a strip ... 

  • Then fold it in two, cross one of the ends over ... Then cross the other end. You are basically rolling and twisting. 
This is the classic shape for koulourakia, but there are others which are also popular. Look at the photographs below.
How about a snail shape?
The serpentine rendition! After the traditional twist, this is the second most popular shape.
  • Once a cookie is shaped place it on the cookie tray on top of the parchment paper.
  • Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash. If you like,  sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the egg wash. 
  • Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until the cookies are light golden in colour, about 20 minutes depending on the oven. Don't overbake them because they will come out hard and lose their flavouring notes. 

Enjoy them: not too sweet, and with such a wonderful buttery/fruity flavour! One of the best treats to have with coffee or tea!