When Sarah reached out and asked if I wanted to participate in the Blog Hop Cookie Swap, I was a bit hesitant… after all, we don’t have a kitchen currently! But it also felt like the perfect excuse to finally share my grandma’s Koulourakia recipe with you. And to indulge in some holiday baking since I haven’t gotten to do any of that yet this season. So I took over my soon-to-be father-in-law’s kitchen and made a batch of these delicious butter cookies over the weekend.
I’m a bit overwhelmed with nostalgia because of these cookies! Every time I visited Yia Yia (which Greek for grandma), she had these koulourakia cookies on hand. They are always stored in the same spot, in a covered dish in the lower cabinet to the left of the fridge. As a kid, I was also convinced that each shape tasted slightly different and had my favorites. My obsession with koulourakia is real — I used to get care packages of them from Yia Yia while I was in college!
Before we dig further into the recipe, I have a few disclosures about this recipe: my grandma doesn’t use traditional measuring cups, so this is an approximation of the original recipe. Instead, she has a glass that is about 12 ounces and that is her personal unit of measure. How cute is that? Also, she owned a diner, so this recipe was made in an industrial-grade mixer… it may or may not have been way too much for my normal stand mixer. Just be aware ;) Some Koulourakia recipes call for ouzo, also. I like to joke that the shot of ouzo is actually for the chef, not the recipe. And lastly… this recipe makes literally about 100 cookies.
My Grandma’s Koulourakia (Greek Butter Cookies) Recipe
- 1 lb unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
- 12 ounces powdered sugar
- 12 ounces granulated cane sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup warm milk
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 2.5 lbs of sifted all-purpose flour
- zest of one orange
Egg Wash for Each Cookie:
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon heavy cream
- a pinch of granulated cane sugar
- sesame seeds
Fit an attachment with fat blades onto your mixer (not the whisk). Turn on the mixer and add half of the flour and 3 tablespoons of baking powder. Blend well. Set the mixer to the lowest setting and slowly add the remaining ingredients except for the flour. Mix well. Sift and add the remaining flour. Continue mixing until firm.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees while you move on to the next step.
To form the koulourakia:
Sprinkle a smooth table liberally. Plop all of the dough onto the table and knead well. If the mixture is sticky, add small amounts of flour until it is firm. Keep your hands floured to prevent sticking, too.
Next, pinch off small pieces of dough and form the koulourakia shapes on a greased baking sheet. After that, make the egg wash by beating together the egg yolk with heavy cream and sugar. Using a pastry brush, paint the cookies with the egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds over the tops.
Bake on the lowest rack in the oven at 350 until barely golden. Then move them to the top rack and place the next batch of cookies on the low rack. Remove the cookies when they are golden. Allow to cool completely before serving.
While the flavor of the cookies is simple and no-frills, these treats satisfy my sweet tooth every time. I really like to have mine as breakfast with a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, too. Typically, Koulourakia are served at Easter, but I grew up with them always being on the menu, holiday or not.
For even more holiday cookie recipes, be sure to check out everyone else participating in the Blog Hop Cookie Swap:
Room for Tuesday | Making It Lovely | Kate Lester Interiors | Life on Virginia Street | Claire Staszak | Bria Hammel Interiors | House of Hipsters | Place St. Russell | Francois et Moi | Coco Kelley | Erin Kestenbaum | Boxwood Avenue | Simply Grove | Anita Yokota
Looking for even more Greek recipes from my grandma? Check out these: