Buttery, crumbly, and aromatic these traditional Greek Easter Cookies are so delicious and beautifully shaped.
Happy Easter everyone! I was really in a hurry to finish writing this recipe while doing all the holiday cooking. So, here is the most fun to make Greek Easter cookies recipe. You knead them into any shape you like, which makes them a fun way to spend some time with the kids (I know I really used to enjoy making them when I was younger).
How To Make
To make the best Greek Easter Cookies you need to make their butter really soft. To do this the most important thing is to properly cream the butter together with the sugar right in the beginning.
You need to let it beat for at least 10 whole minutes on your electric mixer to become really soft and fluffy. And then you can start adding the remaining ingredients. Like milk, orange juice and zest, eggs, flour (sifted), the flavorings, and leavening agents (baking soda and baking powder).
Resting the dough before shaping is also important as it gives time to activate the baking powder.
They’re so crispy when you take a bite, and then they start to melt in your mouth. They also contain an unusual aroma, that of Mahleb. Mahleb is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry and is also used in our traditional sweet braided bread, called “Tsoureki” which is made on Easter as well.
This comforting sweet spice is what makes me think of Easter when I smell it. Like cloves and cinnamon reminds me of Christmas.
And let’s admit it, what are Holidays worth, if it wasn’t for all this lovely food that we’re making? Can you imagine Thanksgiving without a turkey? Or Christmas without gingerbread? Not really…
Especially in Greece, we really like to grab every chance we get to have a “Glenti” (The word for a Greek party with friends and family) with lots of food.
I also included a mini step-by-step pic-guide for the different shapes we make here in Greece.
The Traditional Greek Easter
And because Greeks are Orthodox, Easter is one of the biggest celebrations of all. For 2 whole days, this big “Glenti” takes on, in everyone’s backyard.
On the first day of “Pasha” (Easter), every household in Greece has a whole lamb on the spit. And most people have some “kokoretsi” as well. The music is on, from early in the morning, playing very old and traditional Greek songs (if you ever saw the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding“ then you know what I’m talking about). I literally step out of the house, and the music can be heard, all around the neighborhood, coming from almost every home.
And like in every Greek celebration, big carafes of wine are on the table. And right in the center, you find a basket filled with the Greek Koulourakia (these Greek Easter cookies recipe), “Tsoureki” and red-dyed eggs. Already waiting, to treat every guest that comes to say “Xronia Polla”, in this case, it translates to “Happy Easter”.
HAVE YOU DYED EASTER EGGS YET?
If not, you may want to try these naturally dyed Easter eggs using onion skins. And skip all the chemicals from commercial dyes.
So having started in the morning, this celebration takes place until late in the afternoon. When most, just drag themselves back to their home for a much-needed siesta.
All in all, these Greek Easter Cookies are the centerpiece of everyone's Greek Easter celebration table, and they are for a reason. They are truly scrumptious!
You can keep Koulourakia for up to a month in an airtight food container at room temperature. I prefer using good old-fashioned cookie tins to store cookies. Their texture never spoils even after a long time when stored this way.
Greek Easter Cookies Recipe
For The Cookies:
- 300 grams / 10.6 oz butter at room temperature
- 200 grams / 7 oz sugar
- 150 grams / 5.3 0z eggs
- 100 ml milk
- 20 grams orange juice
- ½ orange zested
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon Mastic powder or ¼ teaspoon Mastic tears
- 700 grams / 1lb + 8.6 oz all purpose flour
- 2 grams (a generous pinch) salt
- 10 grams / 0.3 baking powder
- 2½ teaspoons Mahleb powder
For the egg wash:
- 1 small egg
- 2 tablespoons water
Make The Cookie Dough:
- In a bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder, and set aside.
- In another small bowl or cup add the orange juice and zest. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. Set aside as well.
- NOTE: If using Mastic tears instead of powder please see note 1 below.
- Cut butter into small pieces and add to your mixer bowl. Cream butter with sugar over medium-high speed for at least 10 minutes.
- Add the eggs one by one. Wait a minute or two for each to incorporate into the mixture before adding the next one.
- Add the Mahlep powder, Mastic, vanilla extract and orange juice mixture.
- Scrape the sides of the mixer's bowl. Then start to add the milk gradually by slowing down the speed a bit.
- Once fully combined transfer the mixture to a wide bowl.
- Gradually add the flour mixture in batches using a flour sifter. Mixing with a silicone or wooden spoon after each batch. When the dough starts to become too firm to mix with a spoon start kneading it with your hands.
- Once all the flour is mixed in you should end up with a really soft dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest for 20 minutes in the fridge.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F.
Shape The Cookies:
- Take a small piece of the dough (about 35 grams or 1 loaded tablespoon) and shape it into a ball squeezing it a bit to remove excess air.
- Shape the ball into a long cord (about 25 cm long) and then into any of the shapes shown in the text above or in the recipe video.
- Place cookies on a parchment paper covered sheet pan leaving 2-3 cm space in between.
- Lightly beat the egg for the egg wash and then mix it with 2 tablespoons of water. Brush each cookie.
- Bake the cookies for about 20-25 minutes. Check the bottom of the cookies before taking them out of the oven. They should be golden brown at the bottom as well.
- Cool the cookies on a cooling rack. Then store in airtight food containers or cookie tins.
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