Koulourakia (or Koulouria) are one of the most revered traditional Greek desserts. Growing up in a Greek community, friends always offer the sweet butter-based cookies as a casual afternoon snack; they are also fixtures at every celebration, and on every holiday spread. Koulourakia are most often associated with Easter, but I don’t think I’ve attended a holiday party in a Greek household where they didn’t make an appearance.
Outside of soirees, they are the perfect compliment to coffee as an afternoon snack or breakfast. Legend has it that the cookies date back to Minoan times. (I haven’t seen any authoritative documentation of this, but like the sound of it.) Minoans worshipped the snake, which explains the coil-like foundation of the cookie. Logistically, if Minoans did eat these cookies, they would have probably made them with olive oil instead of butter, sweetened with honey instead of sugar, but I digress. Luckily today in Greece, you can go to any zaharoplastio and easily purchase them by the kilo — and you’ll want to fill your box because they disappear quickly.
But if you don’t live near a Greek bakery, you’ll want to make them for yourself using this easy recipe.
My sweet history of Koulourakia
Like most Greek kids, I first started making these yummy cookies with my yiayia. Then I really upped my game when my mom took me down to our church during the summer to help them bake for our annual Greek festival. Our community in Dayton, Ohio made nearly all our food and pastries from scratch. I’d spend my summer break sitting among everyone else’s yiayias, my seven-year-old fingers rolling hundreds of the prized biscuits. I really perfected my skills, so much so, that my mom always put me on rolling duty when she made them for our family. She’d still make me do it if I didn’t live across the country from her. Now she makes my dad help! It’s ok. He eats them all anyway.
But this recipe is based on one from our dear friend in Ann Arbor, Michigan: Andriana Skinner. Yiayia Andriana was an incredible baker — a Greek pasty expert — and we’d often stop by her house in the afternoons and I would gobble down handfuls of these cookies and her powdered sugar-covered Kourambiedes while my mom visited with her and her daughters.
Please, use the next page button below for the recipe and ingredients and don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on Facebook.