Gluten Free Greek Easter Cookies with Mastiha
Gluten Free Koulourakia Using Mastic Tears from Chios
Orange and Amaretto Gluten Free Easter Cookies
Greek Easter Cookies, or Koulorakia, may just be the perfect accompaniment to coffee, tea, a glass of milk, or even a toddy. Unlike most cookies, they aren’t overly sweet. While they do contain sugar, the flavor for these bite-sized cookies is so distinct, too much sugar would disturb the satisfying balance created from the comforting base cookie ingredients and the invigorating essence of orange and mastiha.
You’ll find that many koulourakia recipes call for brandy and orange juice, but we chose Amaretto, several drops of orange essential oil, and carbonated orange soda. The almond flavor works really well with citrus and the piney notes from the mastiaha and the bubbles in the soda assist as an additional leavening agent.
We also made our Greek Easter Cookies gluten free so they could be enjoyed by everybody! Turning this traditionally non-gluten free item gluten free worked wonderfully, as the expected texture of koulourakia is crispy on the outside and slightly soft on the inside—a textural mix that is naturally obtained in most gluten free baked goods due to the lack of the gummy gluten protein.
Note: this recipe makes about 4-5 dozen cookies (depending on how big you make your cookies). If you don't need that many, this dough will freeze well.
- 2 tablespoons Amaretto
- 1 tablespoon orange soda
- 10-15 drops (food safe) orange essential oil
- 2 ¾ cups rice flour
- 2 tablespoons xanthan gum
- ¾ cup tapioca starch
- 3 eggs, plus one additional egg yolk
- 1 cup (2 sticks) softened sweet cream butter
- 1 tablespoon frozen mastiha
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon greek sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tablespoons half-and-half
- Remove your mastiha from the freezer and use a mortar and pestle to grind it with your sea salt and about ½ teaspoon sugar.
- Sift together your riice flour, xanthan gum, tapioca starch, mastiha mix, and baking powder. Set aside
- Using a handheld or standing mixer, blend together your sugar and butter until smooth.
- Mix in the eggs (reserve the single egg yolk for the egg wash).
- Add in the brandy, orange juice, vanilla extract and orange essential oil and continue to blend until ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Add the dry ingredients ¼ cup at a time, allowing it to incorporate into the mixture without forming large clumps.
- Once all of the flour mixture has been added, continue to mix until the dough has moved through the crumbly phase to become a soft, smooth dough. Note: if the dough seems sticky, sift in a bit more of the rice flour..
- Preheat your oven to 350° F
- Roll the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, cover in plastic wrap, and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pinch off about 1 ½ tablespoons of dough at a time and roll it between your hands until it is about ¾-inch thick. Find the center and gently fold and twist the two sides together. Alternatively, shape however you choose.
- Place the braided dough on the cookie sheet and repeat until all of the cookie dough has been used, ensuring you have left about on inch of space between cookies.
- Whisk together the remaining egg yolk and cream and brush it overtop each cookie.
- Optional: sprinkle each cookie with sesame seeds prior to baking.
- Bake for 16 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.