As promised here are two Christmas recipes of sweets that you can can always find in a Greek house. And they happen to be two of my favorite sweets in the entire world.
Well, maybe after halvah. Have you tried it?
This is not my own recipe, since melomakarona are not easy to make and I have never tried to. But I have translated this recipe by Argiro Barbarigou.
- 240 gr. vegetable oil
- 240 gr. olive oil
- 50 gr. cognac
- 160 gr. orange juice
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 200 gr. sugar
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 2 tsp cinnammon
- the zest from 2 oranges
- 900 gr. all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
For the syrup:
- 400 gr. sugar
- 400 gr. water
- 400 gr. thyme honey
- ½ lemon
For the topping:
- Ground pistachios or walnuts (most of the times it is walnuts)
- Sieve the flour and baking powder in a big bowl.
- Add the olive oil, vegetable oil, cognac, sugar, cinnammon, cloves, and orange zest.
- Mix the baking soda with the orange juice before adding it to the bowl.
- Mix (with the wire thingy, that I have no idea what it’s called in English)
- Then gently incorporate the flour, but be careful not to over-mix. The dough must be moist from the oil (Not oozing with oil just smooth and kind of… oily. I’m sooo bad at this!)
- Taking some dough in your hand that is slightly more than a walnut in size, start shaping your melomakarona and line them up on a baking sheet. (The photo shows you what one of them looks like up close for reference.)
- Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated oven at 160o C.
- When they are ready, take them out of the oven and let them cool completely.
For the syrup:
- Add all of the ingredients in a pot and let the syrup boil for 3 minutes. (For the geniuses of this baking class: boiling time starts counting, when your liquid has started boiling.)
- Remove the foam and reduce the heat to low.
- Dip the melomakarona one by one into the syrup from all sides for about 20 seconds and then set aside on the tray or plate or wherever you are planning to store them anyway.
- Finally, sprinkle them with the pistachios or walnuts and your melomakarona are ready. Enjoy!
A much simpler recipe, kourabiedes are an all-time favorite Christmas treat. This is another translated recipe. The original recipe is by Stelios Parliaros, who is one of the best Greek confectioners. Only the best for my readers… 😉
- 300 gr. butter (it’s best to use butter made by sheep milk and it needs to be cold, so that it is solid)
- 120 gr. very roughly crushed roasted almonds (optional)
- 1 dash vanilla powder (I don’t know if you can find this outside of Greece, just like it is hard to find vanilla extract inside Greece. But you can substitute that with the seeds of about an inch of a vanilla bean)
- 110 gr. powdered sugar + some more to add on top
- 25 gr. black rum or cognac
- 600 gr. all-purpose flour
In a mixer add the butterand powdered sugar and mix at a high speed for about 20 minutes. (The more time you mix them, the better. That’s the secret for great kourabiedes.)
- In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and vanilla and then slowly add them to the butter and sugar, keeping the mixer on on a slower speed and mix for another 10 minutes.
- Finally, add the almonds and rum.
- Shape the kourabiedes with 3 cm a diameter, slightly press them at the top with your finger and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven at 170°C for 20-30 minutes, depending on their size.
- When they are done, take them out of the oven and let them cool completely.
- After they have cooled, throw them in a deep bowl with powdered sugar and mix them with your hands until they are nicely coated from all sides.
- Afterwards, put them in a big plate on a pyramid making sure to coat each level with additional sugar.
And just because I am a very nice person, I have included a video where Parliaros himself shows you how to recreate this very recipe step-by-step. Unfortunately, the video is in Greek and doesn’t have any subtitles (because I’m not really a nice person at all). However, you can still watch the video and along with my own very well translated instructions you can get an idea of how kourabiedes are made. So here is the video:
- When mixing the butter and sugar it is important to keep the mixer at a very high speed. But when you add the flour you must mix very slowly.
- Kourabiedes need to be baked in a low temperature and not for too long, so that they don’t harden and remain white.
- It’s also very important to let them cool completely before coating them in sugar.
- Kourabiedes need to be kept covered with a plastic membrane or in a box with a lid.
- If stored in an air-tight container, they can be preserved for quite a bit of time.
- Finally, the most important thing -at least in my opinion- you can leave out the almonds. This will allow you to use cookie cutters to cut your kourabiedes in various shapes, the most common of which are cresents, stars and hearts. Also, it will give your kourabiedes a much more crumbly texture. Yum!
So, these were my two favorite traditional Christmas treats. What did you think of them? Would you like to try these recipes? Have you ever tasted melomakarona or kourabiedes before? What are your thoughts? Tell me in the comments below…
P.S. As I think I have mentioned earlier, I am really bad at translating kitchen equipment. So, I apologise for turning this blog post into an elementary school picture book.