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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Cookie Buffet: The Greek Cookies

When I finally decided to do the cookie buffet for my bridal shower, I knew that I had to include some Greek cookies to honor my heritage. My favorite Greek cookie of all time, finikia, is a honey-dipped spice cookie perfect for autumn, but believe it or not, I've never gotten around to making them before. I usually just make the rounds of local Greek festivals to get my fill. So, because I didn't feel like debuting yet another new recipe (I already had 2 other new cookie recipes planned), I decided to stick with what I know.

In my house, we make two kinds of Greek cookies, mostly around the holidays: koulourakia and kourambiedes. I forgot to take pictures while baking, so I included a later pic of koulourakia as an example of the traditional shape. The pictures of the cookies in the basket below are the ones from my shower.

Koulourakia are Greek butter cookies, typically made around Easter time. They often have an egg glaze, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top. The dough is normally rolled into ropes, and then twisted into circles, spirals, or simple hairpin twists:

My recipe for koulourakia comes from my Aunt Sondra. Although it also calls for twisting the dough, I opted to make them as drop cookies using a cookie scoop because, well, it was just easier! My mom typically does the same thing, so I knew they would still taste great, even if they weren't in the traditional shape. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 3/4 C butter
  • 1/4 C solid shortening
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 1/2 C flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and shortening together on medium for 5 minutes (trust me)
  3. Add eggs one at a time, reserving one yolk to brush cookie tops with
  4. Add vanilla
  5. Combine baking soda, baking powder and flour in a separate bowl
  6. Add half of flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined, then add the second half of the flour mixture
  7. Using a #40 scoop, scoop out dough and drop onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet 1" apart
  8. Lightly brush tops with reserved yolk and a tsp or two of milk

  9. Bake about 12 minutes, until golden brown
And you get about 8 dozen of these:

Kourambiedes (also spelled kourambiethes, kourabiedes, etc etc) are Greek almond cookies normally made aroun Christmas time. They are close relatives of Kahk and Mexican Wedding Cookies. The traditional shape is a crescent, but they are often formed into balls as well.

Again, I opted for balls, because drop cookies are always easier to make than a hand-formed cookie, especially when you have a lot of cookies to make! This recipe comes from my Aunt Ellen.
  • 1 lb unsalted (sweet) butter
  • 1/4 C confectioner's sugar
  • 6 oz almonds, corsely chopped
  • 4 C flour
  • 2 yolks
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 jigger of whiskey
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F
  2. Cream the butter and sugar on medium for 10 minutes
  3. After the first 5 minutes of creaming, add the vanilla, yolks, whiskey, baking soda and powder, and continue to beat for 5 minutes
  4. Add the flour in 2 batches and mix until just combined
  5. Using a #40 scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet 1 1/2" apart
  6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until bottoms start to brown
  7. Cool completely, and then roll in powdered sugar. Also, add powdered sugar to whatever container they will be stored in.
Although we store them in a cookie tin filled with powdered sugar, we tend to put them individually into cupcake cups when serving, and I know a lot of other people do the same. It is just neater.
And when you are done:
Yummy Greek cookies, ready for the taking at the cookie buffet!


Anonymous said...

Stumbled onto your site via Pinterest. Great post on Greek cookies! I enjoy the ones my Yiayia makes... Mine just never taste as good to me. But yours look beautiful!!

Meredith said...

Thanks for the comment! This recipe for kourambiethes is my all-time fave. The key to me is having different size bits of almond. The larger chunks kind of toast as the cookies bake, and it tastes wonderful! This koulourakia recipe is very tasty too, but my all-time fave koulourakia recipe is my aunt's: Give it a try sometime, you won't be sorry!

MHal9000 said...

Hi, Just to follow up, TOAST the almonds (and cool them) before you put them in the dough!!! It really enhances the flavor of the cookie, AND that's how MY Yia Yia made them!! LOL