Make Ahead

Koulourakia (Greek Sesame Twist Cookies)

May 28, 2014
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 28 to 34 cookies
Author Notes

A traditional Greek cookie recipe given to my Mammina Loreta when she immigrated to New York from Italia. Her newfound Greek friend made her and my Papa Pierino these cookies to welcome them to their new home... This generational recipe has become a beloved one in our famiglia for years. —cucina di mammina

Test Kitchen Notes

I really liked these cookies—not very sweet, and there's a really nice taste from the Cognac. She is right to warn you to not overbake. 11 minutes was perfect. They are still soft when they come out of the oven, and then they finish cooking on the sheet (and be careful not to remove them from the cookie sheets until they're cool, or they'll break). I asked my Greek friend and she said these are traditionally eaten in the morning or afternoon with coffee. They are definitely the perfect pair! —Anna Francese Gass

What You'll Need
  • Cookie dough
  • 14 tablespoons organic unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons or so fresh orange zest
  • 1 scant cup + 1 tablespoon organic sugar
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Rémy Martin XO Cognac
  • 4 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • White or black sesame seeds
  • Egg wash
  • 1 large organic egg
  • 1 tablespoon Rémy Martin XO cognac
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease two large cookie sheets and set aside.
  2. In your large mixer bowl, combine the butter, oil, and orange zest. Blend until well combined and creamy.
  3. Add in the scant cup and tablespoon of sugar; blend until well mixed. Now add in the egg, vanilla, and Cognac and continue to combine until mixed through and very creamy.
  4. Slowly begin adding the flour one cup at a time, mixing each time until all ingredients are combined.
  5. When all the flour is added, blend in the orange juice, baking powder, and baking soda until a smooth, creamy dough forms. The dough will be soft, somewhat sticky, and will hold together well.
  6. Begin to shape the cookies by taking about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the dough and rolling it into a log shape about a 1/2-inch or so thick.
  7. Note: If the dough sticks to your hands; rub a bit of olive oil on your hands before rolling. Form an upside down “U” shape with the rolled log then braid or twist the "arms" to the end and press lightly to seal.
  8. Place on the greased cookie sheet and continue rolling and twisting until the first tray is full (place the cookies about an 1 inch or so apart as they do increase in size while baking.)
  9. In a small cup, whisk the egg and 1 tablespoon of Cognac together until blended. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash over the top of the cookies and sprinkle with the sesame seeds (I prefer black sesame seeds for flavor and color).
  10. Place in the preheated oven for about 11 minutes or so. These cookies need to have a light golden brown appearance and must be immediately removed from the oven to cool.
  11. Overcooking them will change the flavor and texture so watch your oven temperature and cooking times carefully. Let the cookies cool completely before removing them from the tray (or they will crumble and crack.)
  12. Place on a large serving platter to enjoy immediately, or, once cooled, store in containers or large plastic bags in the freezer for future use.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Renie Zahariades Groumousas
    Renie Zahariades Groumousas
  • jlriddell
  • cucina di mammina
    cucina di mammina
  • nomnomMKE

5 Reviews

nomnomMKE January 4, 2016
These have a nice orange flavor, though mine didn't turn out nearly as pretty as the ones in the picture. Mine puffed up and spread out during baking, so you could barely make out the twist pattern. Still tasty, though.
Renie Z. December 20, 2015
Very close to my family recipe. Cognac is the only difference and I will try that this year. Thanks
cucina D. December 20, 2015
That is a wonderful compliment, Renie :)... I do hope you try my recipe and let me know what you think. I wish you a wonderful and happy holiday season
jlriddell November 21, 2015
Could I substitute St Germain for Cognac? What might make other goods subs?
cucina D. December 17, 2015
jlriddell, I think you could sub the cognac for any flavorful brandy or cognac you prefer. It may adjust the flavor of the cookie a bit but not in a bad way I would think :). Thanks for contacting me and for trying this favorite holiday recipe for my famiglia. Happy holidays to you and yours!