Desserts and sweets are an important part of most cuisines, regardless of geographic origin. The same is true for Greek cooking, which boasts a slew of unique confectionery delights and baked goods like baklava, a bread-like pastry made from phyllo dough covered in syrupy honey and fruit or nut toppings. Greek snacks aren't all about baklava, though. Among the ranks of traditional Greek food are Greek cookies. Greek cookies are like other cookies: small, flattened cakes with a crispy or flaky texture and a sweet taste.
Greek cookies vary in form and flavor based upon purpose and geography. Each region puts its own spin on the basic cookies. Koulourakia, for example, are made with either butter or olive oil depending on personal preference and availability. These cookies are rich and simple and are usually cooked with an egg-based glaze on top to give shine and deepen the color. These cookies sometimes resemble Greek pastry snacks in form and flavor.
Moustokouloura cookies forgo water in the ingredients list in favor of fresh grape juice. The juice, also called "must," contains remnants of the grape seeds, skins and stems. While other spices may be added to these cookies, the flavor is established by the unusual inclusion of the grape juice.
Finikia are Greek cookies named after a village on the island of Santorini. The flavor of these cookies comes from the juxtaposition of sweet and spicy notes derived from orange juice and cinnamon or nutmeg. While this Greek dessert still utilizes flour, crushed nuts are added for bulk, texture and flavor. These cookies are traditionally made using almonds, though walnuts are also sometimes used. The finished cookies are topped with chopped nuts.
Some cookies are reserved for special occasions. Kourabiethes cookies are Greek Christmas cookies made from flour, butter and crushed and roasted almonds. The finished cookie is coated in powdered sugar for a deliciously decadent treat. Melomakarona are Christmas cookies soaked in diluted honey syrup and covered in crushed walnuts. The flavor and texture are similar to that of a sticky bun.
One needn't be Greek to enjoy Greek cookies. Recipes are widely available in cookbooks, on the Internet and from some food manufacturers. The ingredients used in these Mediterranean confections are widely available and can be found in most grocery stores. Specialty ingredients like crushed nuts can be found in whole food or organic stores, and ingredients specific to Greek cookies are often obtainable from ethnic food stores and other specialty retailers.