When you think Christmas cookies, you probably don’t think about Greece. But Top Chef cheftestant and Kapnos chef George Pagonis is of the opinion that you should. Light and crunchy, classic Greek cookies are a great way to shake up your usual cookie routine. “They’re not super rich or sweet, but they are very tasty,” he says. “Traditionally, the cookies are served as soon as dinner is over. The host serves coffee, and platters of cookies make their way to the table.” Here, Pagonis’s top five Greek cookies to try this season—all available at Kapnos and all fun to try to say out loud.
Typically braided, this crispy cookie is usually flavored with orange juice and zest and dusted with sesame seeds.
2. Melomakarona Semi-soft and shaped like an e
gg, these cookies are dipped in honey after they are done baking and dusted with crushed walnuts for a buttery crunch.
These flourless, chewy cookies are made with an almond base (amygdalo is Greek for almond) and topped with more almonds.
Somewhat similar to biscotti, these crunchy cookies are baked twice and flavored with cinnamon, cloves and almonds.
“Halvadakia are made with either sesame or semolina flour, depending on what part of Greece you’re from," Pagonis. The most common version is made with semolina, flour, sugar, eggs and water. “Every Greek puts a variation on their halva with the addition of nuts or sesame seeds,” he says.
Honorable Mention: Kourambiedes
These sugar-dusted shortcakes (left) are traditional Greek Christmas cookies. They’re easy to make at home with this simple recipe.