Traditional Greek Holiday Cookies

Hi friends. My mom and I had a great little girls day last week where we baked up about 450 cookies (yikes!) for the holidays. While I could probably eat them all myself, we made as many as we did because we like to give most of them away to friends and family every year. Who doesn’t love receiving tins and platters of cookies, am I right?

The two types of cookies we made are called melomakarona and kourabiedes. Melomakarona are dark brown honey cookies topped with walnuts, and kourabiedes are sugar cookies coated in… you guessed it, sugar.

I will be coming back with recipes and directions for these cookies at a later time, but for today’s post I wanted to share the “behind the scenes” of the baking process. I snapped some photos as we were going along, as I think it’s so fun to watch the process progress. Let’s start with melomakarona.

fullsizerender-15The dough should be wrapped in some foil for about 10-15 minutes to let the ingredients blend/rest before starting.fullsizerender-5You can make whatever shape you want, but melomakarona are traditionally this kind of log design. We made two different types because of two different recipes. The round version are vegan!
fullsizerender-4Poking holes with your fork not only helps the cookie bake completely, but also aids in the absorption of the honey syrup.
fullsizerender-3The syrup should be made 3-4 hours in advance and set aside.fullsizerender-10You want to soak the cookies in the syrup immediately after they come out of the oven. That’s when they absorb the most.fullsizerender-13Crush the walnuts and add cinnamon for the topping.fullsizerender-6Sprinkle on top!fullsizerender-2We had some craziness going on…
fullsizerender-11So. Stinkin’. Good.

Time for kourabiedes! The dough looks similar and you want to let it rest the way you would with the other cookies.fullsizerender-8Make about 1in balls – again, you can make these into any shape you want.fullsizerenderOnce they’re cooked, let them cool completely. The sugar will get wet and nasty if they’re the slightest bit warm.
fullsizerender-14Coat the top and bottom.fullsizerender-1Add as much sugar as you want. I love adding a lot!fullsizerender-9Gimme some oven lovin’.

Greek Week: Baklava

The day has come! I’m finally sharing one of the world’s most loved desserts’ recipe. Though the traditional baklava is made with layers of phyllo dough, this recipe is much easier, cheaper, and amateur-friendly for all of my anxious and hungry readers. It just finished baking and the smell has invaded my home. My mouth is salivating as I write this. Warning — this is a very sweet and sugar-filled dessert! You’re in the wrong place if you’re someone that’s watching what you’re eating 🙂

I won’t lie, this is one of my sloppiest dishes. Lucky for me, it tastes a lot more delicious than it looks. Practice makes perfect, don’t forget that!

You’ll need:

  • 2 (8oz) cans of crescent dinner rolls (Pillsbury, store brand, etc.)
  • 3 cups walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

glaze:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Note — I like my baklava gooey and very moist. If you don’t like too much syrup, cut the glaze ingredients in half.

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Open one can of crescent rolls and press the dough on the bottom of a 13×9 pan. I used an aluminum one but any kind works. I like this one because I can just throw it away and not have to worry about the messy clean up! Make sure there are no gaps and even push up about half an inch on the side to create a bowl-type crust.

3. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes.

4. While the crust is baking, prepare the mixture. In a medium size bowl, combine the walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix well.

5. Spread the mixture evenly throughout the pan.

6. Open the other can of crescent rolls and roll out one big piece of dough. Place it on top of the walnut mixture and press out to the edges of the pan.

7. Using a sharp knife, score out lines length-wise and diagonally to create diamond shaped pieces. Set side.

8. In a small saucepan, bring glaze ingredients to a boil.

9. Poor half of the syrup evenly throughout the pan and set the other half in a small bowl on the side.

10. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven and dough. Remove from oven when the crust is golden.

11. Spoon remaining syrup over the cooked baklava to soak in. Refrigerate, cut, and enjoy!

I would love to hear if any of you have made this or any other recipe I’ve provided. Let me know! And be sure to gimme some oven lovin’.