The island of Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization and culture from 2600-1400 BC. It is the oldest recorded Greek civilization. The Minoan’s may have taken their name from king Minos, who was said to rule over the island with a labyrinth which housed the Minotaur in Greek myth.
One variation of the myth states that after a war Athens was required to send human sacrificial offerings every year, as surrendering terms to be given to the half-man half-bull monster. One year a young man named Theseus volunteered to be part of the offering, in hopes of slaying the Minotaur. On arrival to the island, the king’s daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and gave him sword to fight the bull and ball of string to find his way out of the Labyrinth.
Ariadne is thought to be the true fertility goddess of Crete, depicted as a Snake Goddess, reduced to legend and myth. The Minoans worshiped the snake for its healing powers. A traditional Greek cookie called Koulourakia (koo loo rahk yah) is often shaped into spirals like small snakes.
I made a batch of these up for the first time this weekend and I must say they are deceivingly addicting. They look almost like pretzels, with the egg glaze and sesame seeds, but taste like a light sugar cookie. The hint of vanilla slowly grows on you makes it difficult to eat only one…
3 1/2c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3c softened butter
3 egg yolks
Reserved egg whites
1 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp dark spiced rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest or juice
Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time beating between additions. Stir in yogurt, rum, vanila and lemon.
Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients gradually, kneading until you have a dough-like substance. Do not over knead or the dough will become too dry. Add some water if needed.
Break off chunks about the size of a golf ball and roll into 3 inch ropes and shape. Brush on reserved egg whites, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake on a sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.