Just recently, I made my very first batch of Koulourakia. Yes, it’s true. While I always helped my mom, I finally made them on my own. I was working based off of my mom’s recipe so I was expecting results similar to hers. Well, that didn’t happen. The texture of the dough was not smooth because I put too much flour and I skipped the egg wash step (thinking it didn’t make much of a difference) so the cookies had no color. The worst part was that my lumpy, pale cookies didn’t even taste good.
Determined to redeem myself, I decided to make them again. This time, I did some research and made changes to improve the flavor, texture and appearance with complete success. I learned that some small changes can make a big difference.
Here are my 5 secrets to Koulourakia success:
1. High quality, salted butter. I learned from another cookie recipe that this has a big impact on the flavor of sugar cookies and I’ve started to experiment with salted butter in other recipes as well. So far, I’m a fan.
2. Smooth ingredients = a smooth cookie. Make sure that all of your ingredients are the right consistency to give you a smooth dough and final cookie. In Koulourakia, this includes your flour, sugar and orange zest. Sift or whisk your flour and process your sugar/orange zest in a coffee grinder if needed.
3. With flour, less is more. The final texture and visual appearance of the cookies is highly dependent on the amount of flour you use. The key is to use as much as needed to form the dough into your desired shape. No more, no less. Even when a recipe specifies how much flour should be used, go by this standard.
4. Don’t skip the egg wash. Don’t be lazy when it comes to this final step before baking. It takes a few extra minutes and makes a big difference in the appearance of your Koulourakia. You can find different types of egg wash options depending on the look you want here.
5. Pop them in the freezer. To ensure that your cookies maintain the shape you roll them into, stick each tray in the freezer for 5 minutes prior to baking as you would any sugar cut-out cookies.
Now that you’ve learned from my mistakes, check out the before and after of these cookies on Instagram @sophakicooks.
CHOCOLATE DIPPED KOULOURAKIA
Makes 50 Cookies
2 sticks salted butter
1 1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp cognac (I used Metaxa)
1/4 c orange juice
zest of 1 orange
2 tsp baking powder
4 1/4 c flour (more or less as needed)
For Egg Wash:
1 egg (for egg wash)
1 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees farenheit. In a large bowl, cream butter with sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, cognac, and orange zest to mixture. Stir orange juice together with baking powder in a bowl and add to bowl. Mix well.
Sift or whisk flour into a separate bowl and gradually add to wet ingredients, combining with hands. Use only enough flour to create a soft dough that can be formed into desired shapes. Be careful not to use more flour than needed.
Roll dough into desired shape and place on baking sheets. You may choose to put in baking sheets in the freezer for 5 minutes before going into the oven. This will help the cookies retain their shape while baking.
Whisk egg with water to create egg wash. Using a pastry brush, gentry brush cookies with the wash.
Bake each tray for 15-18 minutes or until golden in color.
If dipping in chocolate, allow to cool thoroughly first. Dip each cookie in melted chocolate, sprinkle with chopped nuts and place on wax paper until completely cool.