Thursday, December 20, 2018

Ladokoulouro: Greek-style Sesame Seed -Olive Oil Cookies

As Doug and I continue to explore Charlotte, NC and the surrounding around, we tend to seek-out Greek and Middle Eastern stores and establishments (meaning restaurants).

We stumbled upon a rather small Greek store called the Agora Greek Market on the east side of Charlotte which offers lots of goodies – spices, sweets, oils, cheeses, even family-sized packages of frozen pastitsio, moussaka, and baklava!

The cookies we bought at the Agora
We purchased a few items including a bag of Greek sesame seed-olive oil cookies called Ladokoulouro, a product of Crete. Once home, it was imperative that we sample the cookies right away. I put on a pot of coffee and opened the bag of cookies. We found them to be not too sweet – which we liked, with a gentle hint of cinnamon and cloves, and a pleasing crunch – just right for dunking into our coffee.

Since the Agora is a bit far from home and we won’t be going that way too often, I thought it wise to find a recipe for Ladokoulouro to make at home. I searched several recipes online and pieced one together that made sense to me.

Here’s the result of The Armenian Kitchen’s first attempt at making Ladokoulouro …

My version of Greek-Style Sesame Seed-Olive Oil Cookies - Ladokoulouro

Greek-Style Sesame Seed -Olive Oil Cookies
Yields about 30 cookies

1-1/2 cups olive oil (Note: I found this amount to be too much. Next time I’ll cut it down to about 1 cup.)
¾ cups sugar
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice PLUS ¼ cup water to equal 1 cup liquid
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
Zest of 1 orange
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cognac, optional (I chose not to add cognac.)
4 - 5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 375° degrees F.

Zest an orange before juicing; set aside until ready to use.
Wet ingredients (L); Dry ingredients (R)
In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups of the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves until blended.
In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, water, orange zest, sugar,   vanilla and cognac (if using) until well- incorporated.
Whisking together the wet and dry ingredients.

Add the flour mixture a little at a time stirring with a wire whisk to combine. At this time you may add additional flour, but not more than 5 cups total.

If the mixture becomes too thick to mix with the whisk, use your hands to combine.
Folding-in the sesame seeds.
Fold-in the sesame seeds using a rubber spatula and mix until combined. (NOTE: Alternately, before baking, you could dip the shaped cookies into the sesame seeds, pressing so seeds adhere, but this will be more time-consuming.)

The dough may appear to be quite sticky to this point; don’t panic! Set it aside for 10 minutes or so. You’ll find that the dough will become quite workable.
Unbaked log-shaped cookies
Pinch-off walnut-sized balls of dough. Roll the balls into 4-inch logs and placing them on a parchment-lined baking pan. You can also create a doughnut-shaped cookie by taking the walnut-sized ball, placing it on the parchment-lined baking sheet, flattening it, and making a hole in the center with your finger. Personally, I liked the doughnut-shaped cookies better than the logs. They came out crispier - just the way I like it!
Unbaked doughnut-shaped cookies
Be sure to leave some room in between each cookie on the baking pan to allow for expansion.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or until the cookies become slightly browned around the edges and top.

NOTE: If baking more than one tray of cookies at a time, rotate the trays halfway through the baking time by switching the bottom tray to the upper rack and the top tray on the bottom. This will ensure even baking.

Place the cookies on wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an air-tight container.

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