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Food

Greek Cookies to Make and Enjoy during the Holidays

November 20, 2023

With the holiday season approaching, cookie swaps are a fun way to share the fruits of our baking labor. A cookie swap is a type of party when friends get together and each person makes enough of one kind of cookie to share at the party. After sampling the cookies, everyone selects their favorites and can take them home packaged in appealing assortments ready to give as gifts or to share for dessert at the Christmas feast. Plus, everyone goes home with new recipes to add to their baking repertoire. Greek favorites, such as kourambiedes and melomakarona, are always a hit at the cookie swap. From Thanksgiving through Christmas, New Year’s and Epiphany, these special treats are a staple of the season. The following is a classic kourambiedes recipe to try. Be warned, the confectioners’ sugar will get everywhere, but the resulting cookies are worth the effort.

 

Kourambiedes

 

2 cups unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup blanched almonds, chopped, toasted and set aside to cool

4-5 cups all-purpose flour

Ouzo for sprinkling (optional, but highly recommended)

Confectioners’ sugar for coating

Beat the butter with the 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar until fluffy. Add 2 cups of the flour, the vanilla and the almonds and mix together. Add the rest of the flour, or as much as needed for the dough to form and not stick to your fingers, though not more than five cups. Do not overwork the dough or add too much flour, or you’ll end up with tough cookies. Form half-moon shapes and place on cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until lightly golden.

Meanwhile, sprinkle a large piece of waxed paper with a generous amount of sifted confectioners’ sugar. When the cookies are done, remove them from the cookie sheet and immediately place them on the waxed paper covered with confectioners’ sugar. If using the ouzo, sprinkle the cookies at this point and then sift confectioners’ sugar on top to coat the cookies completely. Once cooled, place the kourambiedes on a platter or store them in an airtight container. Makes about 50-60 kourambiedes.

 

Melomakarona/Finikia (Honey Cookies)

 

7 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup farina

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

1 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

1/4 cup cognac

For the syrup:

2 cups honey

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

For topping:

1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, farina, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of Greek sea salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, juice, zest and cognac and add to the dry ingredients, mix until combined. Form the dough into ovals about two inches long. If desired, form the cookie with a walnut half in the center or a combination of finely chopped walnuts and ground cinnamon as a filling. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven about 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a large saucepan, combine the honey, sugar, water and cinnamon stick, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Dip the just baked cookies into the syrup and allow them to absorb some of the liquid, but work quickly so they don’t dissolve in the syrup. Cool the cookies completely and garnish with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and a dash of ground cinnamon. Makes about 40-50 cookies.

Melomakarona. (Photo: Giorgos Kontarinis/ EUROKINISSI)

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