Sunday, April 20, 2014

Koulouria (Greek Easter Cookies)

Back when I had my first job, my first real, full time, not-Christmas-help-in-the-cosmetics-department job, I met a Greek man with a wonderful cookie recipe. Each year at Easter, he and his wife would bake up a huge batch of these and distribute them to everyone in the department. Because they looked rather plain, my expectations were low, but overwhelmed by his sincerity, I tasted one.  Proof positive that one cannot judge a book by its cover or a cookie by its rather simple appearance, these cookies were addicting. They are also very special, not just because they came from a friend in whose family they had been a long tradition, but for the way, through delicious food, they can illustrate the true meaning of Easter. The shapes of these cookies, you see, are to represent the crown of thorns and nails used in the crucifixion.  

This recipe makes a huge batch, but it is considered good luck to receive them, so you will want to share them with all of your friends. 

(Greek Easter Cookies)

1 pound unsalted butter
1 cup Crisco
6 eggs
4 cups granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
4 teaspoons baking powder
Dash salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Juice of one orange
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup whole milk
14-15 cups flour

1 egg
1 Tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter and Crisco. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored. Whisk in vanilla. Combine egg mixture with shortening mixture and beat to blend. Blend in baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 

Mix baking soda into orange juice and add all at once to above mixture. Add milk and blend together on low speed. With mixer still running on low speed, add flour slowly. Continue adding flour until dough is soft and pliable and doesn't stick to your hands. 

Empty dough onto work surface. To shape, pinch off walnut-size pieces and roll into a rope about 5" long and as big around as your finger. Shape into crowns, thorns, or nails. 

Whisk together egg and water to make egg wash. 

Place shaped cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets and brush with egg wash. Bake about 25-30 minutes or until light golden brown. 

Note: This recipe can easily be halved, or if you are rather clever with math, cut by thirds.  The dough can be made ahead of baking up to two days prior. The dough freezes well if you find yourself overwhelmed with cookie baking.

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1 comment:

Kaz @ Melting Moments said...

Yum! I have fond memories of eating these at my best friend's house during Greek Easter. I haven't tried to make them but I may just give them a go now :) Thanks.