Culture . Tradition

Food & Drink: Christmas cookies Kourambiedes and Melomakarona

Recipe: Christmas cookies Kourambiedes and Melomakarona
There is hardly a Christmas covered or decorated table in Greece, where the Kourambiedes or Melomakarona cookies are missing.
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Although Christmas is not even around the corner, I’ve seen the first “Kourambiedes and Melomakarona” already in the “Sacharoplasteio”(pastry shop) . The word “Sacharoplasteio” is a combination as follows: Sacharo = sugar, plasteio derived from platho = mold; therefore at a confectioner’s it revolves around a “sugar-mold”.

Recipe: Christmas cookies Kourambiedes and Melomakarona

“Kalanta,” by Nikiforos Lytras, 1872. Every year on the morning of 24.12. and 31.12., children with triangles or even adults with musical instruments wander from house to house singing the “Kalanta”, the traditional Christmas carols. In exchange you give them 1 or 2 euros and also offer them Christmas cookies.

There is hardly a Christmas covered or decorated table in Greece, where the Kourambiedes and Melomakarona cookies are missing. These two types of baked goods are the traditional Christmas sweets in Greece and also Crete.

Other types of Christmas cookies are unknown to the traditional house wife. The housewife prepares both types fresh and they taste the best the day after they have been baked.

 

Recipe: Christmas cookies Kourambiedes and Melomakarona Recipe Kourambiedes (50-60 pieces)

Preparation: 20 min
Baking time: 30 min.

Ingredients: 225g butter, 225ml tasteless oil, 80g icing sugar, some vanilla, 150gr peeled, coarsely chopped and oven-toasted almonds, 500gr all purpose flour, and 1 package powdered sugar to roll and cover the Kourambiedes.

Note: as a neutral tasting oil is taken here by the way refined olive oil for baking.
Whisk the butter, oil and powdered sugar together in a food processor to a frothy and light mixture, add the vanilla, almonds and about 200gr flour. Then, as much flour (in total around 200-250g) pull slowly until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers.

The secret to soft Kourambiedes lies in the amount of flour and the dough, be careful when handling both; the longer you knead the dough, the harder the Kourambiedes will get.

Lay sheet with parchment paper. Form by hand or with molds crescents, round crowns or balls and place them on the sheet at small distances, the dough goes in baking just barely on. Oven heat to 175C and push the sheet; the baking time is about 30 min., the Kourambiedes should have a light brown tint.

Immediately afterwards, but with caution (when hot they break easily) place on baking paper sprinkled with powdered sugar and sprinkle from above with plenty of powdered sugar (with a strainer); they should be completely covered. If they are cold, put in a cookie jar and cover again with the powdered sugar.

They are also served with plenty of powdered sugar; the guest takes a Kourambie by hand and knocks off either a little from the sugar on the plate or enjoy it as it is. Well-sealed in a Cookie metal tin they keep for about 1 month.

 

Recipe Melomakarona (40-50 pieces)Recipe: Christmas cookies Kourambiedes and Melomakarona

Preparation time: 30 min
Baking time: 30 min.

Ingredients: 330ml tasteless oil, vegetable oil 110gr, 225gr sugar, 200ml freshly squeezed orange juice, 1 shot glass of brandy, 2 teaspoons grated orange peel, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon soda, 1kg multi-purpose flour.
For the syrup: 700gr honey, 450gr sugar, 450ml water.

To sprinkle: 200gr chopped walnuts, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon clove.
Note: as a neutral tasting oil is taken here by the way refined olive oil for baking.

Whisk for 4 min oil, vegetable oil, sugar, orange juice, brandy and orange zest in a food processor. In a large bowl, combine flour, soda and baking powder, pour in the whisked mixture in a hollow of the flour and slow process with more and more flour.

Mold by hand or with molds (kept small because they are amply rise in the oven), give on a lined baking paper (ware distance) and bake in preheated oven at 175C for about 30 minutes light brown color.

In the meantime, prepare the syrup: Boil honey, sugar and water together for 5 minutes, skimming if necessary. As soon as the Melomakarona come out of the oven, pour the still hot syrup; if they have absorbed this, turn around and leave to cool down completely.

Mix the chopped walnuts with the cinnamon and clove. Invert the pastry again, individually take each piece with a spatula, sprinkle with walnut-cinnamon-clove mixture and set on the for storing selected surface (also on each other), cover with kitchen membram.

The Melomakarona can be stored in a plastic container for a long time.

More about the Cretan Christmas customs, you will find the article  The Christmas season in Crete.

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