By Natalia Alexander
DRUMROLLLLLL PLEEEEASE….the day we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived! The 2014 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap recipe reveal day is finally here! The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap brings together food bloggers from all over the US to make and send a dozen cookies to 3 other bloggers and receive a dozen cookies from 3 respective bloggers in return! This year we partnered with Cookies For Kids’ Cancer, ‘a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease.’ So let’s all bite into a cookie swap cookie to support both the food blogger community and a great cause!
What’s more is everyone who participated also scored some goodies from product partners…! I got an awesome Baker’s Decorating Bottle Kit from OXO which I used to stuff some lemon Greek yogurt cookies with fig spread (although I’m still perfecting the recipe so look out for that sometime in the future) and a cool cookie tin from Imperial Sugar and Dixie Crystals, with a sweet reminder to send a treat to someone who needs a smile!
As I write this I’m sitting in a funky coffee shop called…..wait for it….Fuckoffee in London with a great view of The Shard as I patiently await to celebrate my birthday London-style in a few days. I also plan on visiting some fun new restaurants and markets filled with yummy food stalls, pictures of which I’ll be sharing with you all via social media. Or maybe I’ll dedicate a post on The Greek Glutton to my London food diary…..We shall see! But now on to more important things! My Cookie Swap recipe!!! At the last possible minute (more on this later) I finally settled on Koulourakia, which are Greek butter cookies scented with orange zest. These crunchy little cookies are pretty much a staple in most Greek houses. Greeks eat these at breakfast or more often with their afternoon coffee. The hardness of the cookie makes it perfect for dunking into coffee or tea and is just the perfect pick-me-up when you’re feeling that afternoon slump coming on. I don’t know about you guys but for me that’s ALWAYS at 4:00pm/16h00.
And I also love koulourakia because yes ok they have butter in them, but they’re not really COOKIE cookies. They’re more like….little tummy fillers!! Does that make sense? What I mean to say is that I wouldn’t necessarily consider these unhealthy like I would most cookies. Why? Because the recipe calls for just 1 cup of butter and 1 cup of sugar to produce over 4 DOZEN small braided cookies or about 2 DOZEN cut out cookies. And they’re kind of like the Greek version of biscotti. You’re only going to eat about 2 small braided koulourakia or 1 cut out koulouraki as a snack with your coffee or tea. SOOOO I’m declaring them guilt-free!!
So, to backtrack and explain to all my cookie recipients why they received their cookies so late (sorry guys!!!), I’ll take you through the saga of finding my Cookie Swap recipe. So before I was even notified of my blogger matches for the swap I SCOURED the internet for ideas to make the perfect cookie with a Greek twist. I’m surprised my bookmarks bar didn’t give up on me, or crash, or blow up…! So after a few weeks of searching I decided to make lemon cookies stuffed with fig spread. But trying to be healthy I substituted most of the butter in the recipe for Greek yogurt and they ended up tasting a little weird to me, and they were also way harder to stuff with fig spread than I anticipated. Sooo I chose instead to keep things simple and make an already established and traditional Greek recipe.
Ok, enough ranting. Below you’ll find all of the yummy cookies I received from some fabulous food blogging ladies. Check out their blogs, browse, drool, be happy……
Coconut Almond Crispies with Chocolate Chunks & Dried Cranberries by Lisa Lotts ofGarlic + Zest
Sugar Cookies by Jenn Ballman from Not Starving Yet
Chinese Almond Cookies by Stephanie Manley of CopyKat Recipes
And lastly, below you’ll find some (hopefully) helpful pictures on what the dough should look like and the steps to take to braid the dough if you decide to braid it:
- 2 sticks butter, room temperature, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs + 2 eggs for glazing
- Grated zest from 1 orange
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- Sesame seeds for topping (optional)
- Parchment paper
- Cream together the butter and sugar
- Mix in the vanilla extract and orange zest
- Beat in the 2 eggs 1 at a time
- Add the first cup of flour and the baking soda and mix
- Add the 3 remaining cups 1 cup at a time, mixing after each cup
- You may need to knead the dough with your hands to get all of the flour incorporated
- The dough should be smooth and firm like in the picture and shouldn’t stick to your hands
- Preheat your oven to 350 F/176 C
- Now it’s time to braid and/or make shapes with the dough
- If you want to create cut-out shaped cookies:
- Roll out the dough until it’s about 1 inch/2.5 cm thick
- Cut into whatever shapes you want with cookie cutters
- If you want to braid the dough:
- Break off small pieces/balls of dough about 2 inches/5 cm in diameter (it should fit in the crook of the palm of your hand)
- Roll the dough out into a long thin string
- Shape the string into a U and twist each piece around to braid
- See the picture above for reference. This isn’t hard to do! It just sounds complicated
- Line your cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper
- You can put as many cookies as you can onto the baking sheet because they won’t expand while cooking. Just make sure they’re not touching
- Whisk the remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl to combine/mix the yolk and white
- Brush the egg wash onto the cookies
- Bake for 10 minutes
- Remove from oven and brush on more egg wash
- Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown
- Sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional)
- Enjoy these cookies for breakfast or dunk them into your coffee or tea!