Christmas is almost here, and as with most religious holidays celebrated in Greece, food is a central aspect of the festive days.
There are two traditional deserts that are prevalent in Greek homes during these days: the almond based kourabiedes and the honey and cinnamon filled melomakarona. Though different in taste, these two treats accompany each other well and they are a must-have Christmas treat in every Greek home.
For the syrup
7 cups sugar
8 cups water
2 cups honey
2 cinnamon sticks
2 wide strips of orange peel
For the Dough:
5 cups pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely ground walnuts
zest of 1 orange
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground clove
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
3/4 cups sugar
Beat until melted
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp. honey
Add baking soda into a glass with orange juice
1/2 cup orange juice
3/4 tsp. baking soda
Ground walnut topping
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cups of ground walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground clove
Pre-heated 350F oven
- For the syrup, add all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil and lower to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, take off the heat and allow to cool.
- Into a large bowl, add your wet ingredients (except for baking soda and orange juice). Mix for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved.
- Combine the flour with the other dry ingredients. Once sugar is dissolved, add the baking soda/orange juice mixture then add dry to wet ingredients. Use you hands to mix the dough.
- Using your hands, roll the dough into small balls (about the size of apricots), then form them into quenelle shapes.
- Take your box grater (the side used to zest) and place a cookie on top of it. Press the cookie down a bit to form a grid pattern on the top of the cookie. Repeat this process for all the cookies.
- Place your cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake in a pre-heated oven (middle rack) for 30 minutes.
- Using a large slotted spoon or Spider, drop the hot cookies in batches into the coolsyrup for 10 minutes to absorb the syrup then flip for 3 minutes on the other side. Reserve on a cooling rack and repeat until all the cookies are dunked in syrup.
- For the topping, add the above ingredients in a bowl mix well with a spoon. Brush each cookie with the remaining syrup and then sprinkle each cookie top with the walnut topping. Allow to cool.
- Store in a cool, dry container for up to a month.
(recipe is for 2 baking trays/80 cookies)
1 lb. unsalted butter, clarified* and room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups of roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1 shot of brandy
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 heaping Tbsp. of baking powder
5 cups of of all purpose flour, sifted
Extra icing sugar for powdering (about 2 cups)
- Using a mixer and a large bowl, cream your butter, oil and sugar. Add the egg yolks and continue to mix.
- Add your brandy to a large glass and then add your baking powder and stir it until dissolved. Now pour this mixture, along with the vanilla extract and continue mixing until blended in.
- Start kneading with hands the mixture and s-l-o-w-l-y add the flour to the mixture until all the flour has been absorbed. Add the almonds and knead them into the dough mixture.
- Using your hand, grab a piece of dough the size of a walnut and form them into the shape of choice crescents or patties). Place each formed cookie on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Repeat process until all dough has been shaped into cookies.
- Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven (middle rack) for 25 minutes for each batch. Allow the cookies to cool until you are able to handle ((on the tray is fine).
- Place about 2 cups of icing sugar in a large bowl and place the a cookie in the sugar and cover to coat. Place in your serving platter and repeat with the remaining cookies. Now place some more icing sugar in a sifter and generously dust the Kourabiedes with more icing sugar until well-coated.
The cookies can be stored in a sealed container, in a cool, dry place and they’ll keep for 3 months.
*Clarify the butter by melting it over medium heat then remove from heat and allow to cool in the fridge until solid. Now poke a hole into the solid butter and carefully pour out the water that’s underneath. What you have left is clarified butter (you may also use/buy ghee).